Two Great Days at the Office

It has been a great couple of days – days where you remember why you love being a leader of teacher professional development.

Yesterday was our professional learning day. I call it that, others hear me call it that, but they still call it ‘inset’. Oh, well. I can’t have it all my own way. I and my  great team of lead teachers decided early on that we wanted the focus for the day to be subject knowledge: what we teach, and how we teach it. That should be no revolution, but the truth is that, in common with much of the country (as testified by repeated Ofsted reports on PD) subject knowledge development has probably been our weak link in the chain. So, without quite knowing how it would turn out, we decided on a three-part structure to the day:

Teach Meet – where volunteers would share a teaching strategy that was working for them.

Masterclass – where heads of subject were given an hour to deliver some pure knowledge from their subject to their teams, followed by ways of applying it to their lessons.

Faculty Development Time – in which faculty teams worked on an element of their development plan, and focused on standardisation activities.

Though I blush to admit it, I have never attended a teach meet. I have pretended to be at several (through what I call ‘invader tweeting’), and I have close colleagues who have made it their habit to go. So, with blindfold on, we put ours together. We issued minimal instructions to would-be presenters. They had three minutes and one slide in which to be enlightening and entertaining. Sixteen colleagues stepped forward, with only minor cajoling. the-great-chace-teach-meet


Lead Teacher, Louise Legg, talking about clever ways of interleaving the curriculum.


IOE Student Teacher, Jordan Bonner, shows how he uses Kahoot to inspire his A Level Sociologists.

No hour of professional development at our school has been as well received. The school buzzed all day yesterday, and the shine did not even tarnish today (when the students returned).

The Masterclasses which followed were just as good, with the only regret that we could only attend our own. Every subject lead was told that they had to put together a high quality ‘lesson’ for their own colleagues. The topic was of their own choosing; they could lecture, or they could attempt something more interactive; it could – but it did not have to be – related to a scheme of learning. My history head regaled us with stories of historic Whitechapel. Drama teachers worked on key language. English spent an hour on biblical allusions. The PE department fired shuttlecocks at balloons suspended from a high jump bar.


It’s easy to enjoy your professional learning when there are no kids about; it’s what happens the next day that really matters. Several colleagues made a point of telling me what they were doing today that they had learned yesterday. This is the moment when a piece of professional learning starts to become professional development, and it’s great to witness it in colleagues who have been with us one week (new trainees) as well as others who have been in the job a lifetime.

My Day Two was every bit as uplifting as Day One. This was my diary entry for Thursday 26 January:

Lesson 1: peer observation of a History colleague. She is a much-loved senior colleague but, after many years, this is the first time I had actually observed her. I wish I had earlier!

Lesson 2: meeting of the lead teacher team: reflecting on the inset day, planning for the afternoon’s NQT induction.

Break Duty: in the freezing queue to the diner.

Lesson Three: interviewing Katie Wood for the post of Head of Graphics. Katie was an NQT only last year (self-proclaimed the youngest in the country), so it was an especial pleasure to confer this position on her. Read her blog if in any doubt about how good she is.

Lesson Four: teaching my Year 7s about the Domesday Book, while being observed by three visitors on the School Experience Programme. (The SEP, which allows proto-candidates for ITE programmes to spend some time in school, has harvested many trainees for us.) Being science and maths candidates, they were happily wowed by my lesson.

Lunch: I did no work.

Lesson Five: teaching my Year 11s about the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.

Lesson Six: on-call, escorting reluctant learners into spaces where they could allow others to get on with learning.

After school: NQT induction.


Here, lead teachers Barbara Terziyski and Dan Saunders are helping some of our NQTs to plan round two of their Lesson Studies. We are running four Lesson Study groups to help model good lesson planning, while their focus is engaging some of our recalcitrant boys.

So: a teach meet, a masterclass, a marking standardisation, an observation of a colleague with feedback, a PD planning meeting, two lessons of my own, one of which observed by putative teachers, an internal interview and appointment, and four lesson studies.

Two great days at the office.



For What it’s Worth… what is it worth?

I have a headache. Or rather, I have had a headache since Monday, and it’s now Friday. I check off the usual suspects: alcohol (cheap and red and, to be fair, not that much of it); eyesight (I now have three different pairs of glasses, for different focal occasions); sleep deprivation (but I was in bed at 9pm last night, and it was half-term only last week); I am an assistant headteacher for staff development in a busy London comprehensive (Eureka!)

The kids at school have been acting up a little bit more than usual – Guy Fawkes’ unintended explosive legacy – but aside from that the job has been what the job often is. This is not a moan. I am one of the lucky ones. I still get immense enjoyment out of working in the classroom, and in some respects I am still getting better at it. I am surrounded by colleagues I admire. I am backed to the hilt by my Headteachers and fellow SLT members. This is not a moan. But I have a headache that hasn’t gone away in five days.

I have just done a mind-splurge of everything I am working on at the moment. The inter-connections are so convoluted, like neural pathways, this could be a cross-section of my actual brain. Mere words won’t be up to the task of describing it. But I’m thinking: maybe blogging is better than paracetomol. What follows will not be classic prose, unless I reach Joycean heights of internal monologue.

I am Professional Coordinating Mentor for ITT. Across three universities, I have 11 trainees, each of whom comes with a uni tutor and a school mentor. I get invited to steering meetings I cannot attend, but was suckered into delivering a ‘keynote’ at a careers day at Middlesex this coming January. Professional Studies comes every Wednesday – after teaching all morning and before the SLT meeting that touches the night. We are a School Direct lead school, and with @Bterziyski I try to remain disentangled from the sticky UCAS/NCTL web. Our school partners, and main university provider (London Met) lean heavily upon us, adding to the downward pressure of emails from potential candidates. This week I had 6 visitors from the School Experience Programme in my A level History lesson. I had fewer students in the room than adults.

I am Induction Coordinator for NQTs. I had 8, but I lost one at half-term. I hadn’t seen that coming, because I struggle to keep close enough watch on them. They each have a mentor, and I try to support them too. The induction programme per se runs most Thursdays after school. This is a serious business – they are seriously stressed – but we have a laugh too. The programme rests upon a series of mini enquiries (AfL, differentiation, that kind of thing): they get a bit of input from me or someone more expert; trial the ideas in their own classrooms; then come back in week 3 or 4 and blog about it. That stresses them more, but I try to convince them that enquiry is the best form of professional learning, and that blogging is the most fun they can have on the internet without being arrested. I have been dropping into some of their lessons, but haven’t done so formally yet.

Observations. This term we went grade-free. I won the battle of ideas, but I’m wary of a counter-insurgency. I’ve been reading things on our new ‘Dialogue and Development’ forms such as ‘In old money this would have been an Outstanding.’ SLT colleagues are squirming, trying to find ways of not uttering the word ‘good’. I tell them to speak instead about what makes it good, what could make it better. We are getting there. My Headteachers were probably happier with the old system, but they have backed me on this because I’m the Appraisal guy. This is an appraisal-ish time of year: I am thinking of renaming the season. I do my share of appraisees, and therefore my share of appraisal observations. But I also oversee the policy, which in recent years has meant rubbing off the harsher edges of PRP, holding firm to the principle that it should support teacher development and student outcomes. I’ve become good at squaring circles. I’ve had half a dozen colleagues applying for the Upper Pay Range; by custom they run their portfolios by me before they submit them to the Headteachers and the Pay Panel. It’s a part of my job I can’t afford to get wrong.

‘Professional Development’. Two words: the first having no fixed meaning, the second with no fixed ending. So my job is both endless and meaningless? Well, the first maybe. We do allow a few people out of school for courses, but increasingly this has been for exam board training, and increasingly they have been online. I also coach three colleagues on National College leadership programmes. But most of our PD is in-house. Our Development Time work – with all teachers, spread across 5 afternoons – is led by volunteer ‘development coordinators’, and Lead Teachers, from whom I take the glory by line managing them. They also lead our professional learning days. Next week we start our first Twilight PD course – offered to staff over 4 sessions, in 4 different areas (Leadership, Behaviour, Differentiation, Marking and Feedback.) Some teachers gladly fell in, while others were gently pushed. It’s our main response to their development needs as identified by appraisal.

The differentiation course will be run as a Lesson Study by two of the Lead Teachers. I have been trying to develop the school as a ‘research community’. I have signed up for the IOE Leading Evidence Informed Practice in Schools course. I tutor 4 colleagues for their MA in Education through Middlesex University. I host the discussion pages on the IOE Research and Development Network website. The work I do for IOE means I have to read government documents, policy announcements and research summaries, and I do what I can to pass on the love.

My day job is actually a 4-day job. On the 5th day I travel to Bedford Way to develop and faciliate courses for the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at UCL IOE. Aspiring Leaders, PD leaders, Middle leaders, Heads of Year, appraisal, school improvement planning, impact evaluation. I’m meant to be writing a chapter for a book. My name is on a bid for something. I’m teaching Swedish headteachers next week. Who ever said I know anything about any of this?

I know about teaching. Or, rather, I know how to teach. My year 10s will tell you I’m sick. My year 12 History class are less convinced but they liked what I did this week. My year 13 Politics class mainly want to study Politics at university, and that means a great deal to me. And I think I know how to line manage… not in the show-me-your-data kind of way, perhaps, but certainly in the I-know-you-can-do-it fashion.

Anyway, it’s Friday and this headache has been nagging me since Monday. I’ve got a lot on. But, now that I’ve written it all down, it does seem to mean something. And that is something.


Breaching our Cosy Bunkers


Bruce Bairnsfather

For all the inducements to engage in research, to become more evidence-informed, our staff are largely happy to be in the ‘ole they’re in. We prefer to think we do things differently here, so looking outside for answers doesn’t really occur. On the rare occasions we invite in an outside speaker, we tend to duff them up. “They don’t work with our kids,” is a familiar refrain. I call this our ‘cosy bunker mentality’: things aren’t perfect here, but the grass really isn’t greener on the other side you know.

I don’t blame them really. Just when they were getting comfortable with just marking the kids’ work, I made them whip out their green pens and commence a dialogue with them too. They bought my promise that independent learning was ideal for lazy teachers, only to discover that it was just another way to work bloody hard. My school has been a Pedagogopolis these past few years, and its teacher-denizens have been a pretty LO-abiding bunch. Research engagement / practitioner enquiry has been a toolkit too far for most of them.

But, slowly, we are beginning to breach their cosy bunkers. Some credit for this goes to the SLT. We are a largely internally-recruited bunch, with limited experience of working in other schools, and traditionally we would have been as splendidly isolationist as the rest of the staffroom. But two years ago I inserted into our improvement plan that we become a ‘research community’, and though we don’t yet deserve that immodest tag we are edging that way. On Pupil Premium, life beyond National Curriculum levels, the gainful deployment of TAs, and how we measure the quality of teaching without grading lessons – on all of these we have trudged through the blogs, reached for The Key or looked up the EEF. We have refreshed the way we tackle internal reviews: now we start with an enquiry question, devise a review approach (observations, scrutinies, the like) then publish our findings in ways which are much more useful to the teams under review. So, we have looked outside and we have looked inside and altogether we have achieved a much clearer view.

But, given my professional development role, I need also to be busting the bunker from the inside – getting ordinary colleagues engaged in and with research. I have posted here before on my management of our Masters in Education programme. Being a North London school, we have access to the capital’s universities and libraries. Middlesex University operate an arms-length MA module, whereby I get to tutor and assess my colleagues on their action enquiries. I would not say that we as an organisation have learned enough from the research conducted by these individual colleagues; but 15 busy teachers have themselves read some of the latest thinking, and devised valid tests for gauging the impact of new initiatives. They have engaged in and with research, become informed, savvy and inspired. They have found better ‘oles.

Finally, if enquiry is to be embedded as a go-to means of professional development, I need to get to my teachers when they are still young and know no better. That’s why our NQT induction programme is built upon a succession of 5 or 6 mini enquiries across the year. On school priority issues (independent learning, AfL, literacy) they are introduced to some piece of research or a set of strategies; they then have to consider them, plan around and teach them, then reflect upon and present their findings in a blog (which they are encouraged to share and comment on.) It’s enquiry, rather than research, but it’s my attempt to get them to discover and exercise the muscles they’ll need if they are ever to search for the theoretical underpinning for their practice. I now have colleagues – two and three years past their NQTness – for whom this form of enquiry is an instinct. Not many of them, but some. They have climbed out of the bunker.

It’s not so cosy in there now.

TWTWTW in #ChacePD

 That Was The Week That Was

Everyone experiences professional development through their own prism. Mine, principally, is as a ‘producer’ rather than ‘consumer’, as I am PD leader for my school. This week, much like any other, I led professional studies for our teacher-trainees and an induction session for our NQTs. But this week I was allowed also to be a participant, sitting back as my wonderful colleagues took the PD reins.

MONDAY…was the calm before the storm. We had our customary meeting in the morning, the Chace Lead Teachers and I, planning for the days ahead. We have staff training on DIRT coming up, we are getting exercised by growth mindset, and there is the nagging business of Lesson Study.

TUESDAY…was the real ‘Start the Week’. This year our team of volunteer PD leaders (our Development Coordinators) have been delivering Mixed Development Time – 5 sessions across the year, centred on the theme of Differentiation. This week we were focusing on differentiating for students working below (old) Level 3. The DCs led 8 Teacher Learning Communities, mixed by faculty, sharing best practice and remembering that the best differentiation is through knowing our students well.

WEDNESDAY…the Midweek slot was occupied by our ‘Pedagogy Marketplace’. The peerless Darren Glyde, recently appointed a Chace Lead Teacher assumed control of this professional learning day back in October, and the day bore the stamp of his meticulous preparation. The original plan was to provide a showcase for the disparate action research projects that several colleagues have been working into MAs over the past few years. Being their tutor (as an associate for Middlesex) I have long been frustrated by the fact that, whereas they have learned tonnes, we have not managed to learn from them. A marketplace was hardly the most original idea, but it at least offered all classroom staff the opportunity to opt into two or three sessions, which might coincide with their appraisal objectives.

@HughHalford reminding us of our ZPD

There was a choice of about a dozen. @BTerziyski promised to save us time marking, by designing tasks more smartly. We had sessions on literacy, underachieving boys, behaviour management, independent learning, using drama, reading strategies, and more. Each session leader was asked to present their theory, what their own research and practice and taught them about what works. We are still collating the feedback but we already know it was a great success. Our next challenge is to ensure there is a next step.

THURSDAY…is ‘Bookend’ day: begins with professional studies for ITTs, ends with induction for NQTs. Setting Targets was the title for the teacher-trainees. I cannot be alone as a Professional Coordinating Mentor in London, tearing my hair out as the various universities we work with (London Met, Middlesex, IOE and Kings) insist on not talking to each other about the start and finish dates of their school experience placements. So, we have trainees who have begun SE2, while others are yet to complete SE1. So this session was designed as a bridge between the two. We discussed first how to set an achievable target; they they wrote each on a post-it note, then plotted them on an X-Y axis to determine where the quick wins could be, and where they could expect to put in the extra effort.

My NQTs usually don’t get any sessions for free: they expect, for any input from me or an expert colleague, to be sent away for the next 3-4 weeks to enquire further before posting a blog on their reflections. At the moment, they are engaged in What is Appreciative Inquiry while also finding ways of introducing the Teaching and Learning Cycle (a device for extending students’ writing) into their classrooms. So today’s session was deliberately lighter-touch. Inspired by

This Sporting Life

…my session, This Teaching Life, asks the question, Is this a job, a career, a profession, a calling, or a life?

FRIDAY…should be Stop the Week. For me, it’s my day at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at UCL Institute of Education. I have been putting courses together for school leaders and, when numbers allow, delivering them at the IOE and around London. This week, the pressure was off so I set my mind to a half day course I am leading in March, Performance Management: Making it work for you No previews, I’m afraid.

WEEKEND… without end! Those MAs that my colleagues spent their year on had to be marked some time. What did I read? An impact analysis of mentoring for underachieving boys. A look at the correlation (if not the causal link) between early morning football and academic achievement. The difference between an open-door Art club policy and one which is tailored for individual needs. The effect of green pen marking in year 8 science. The impact of Chris Watkins’ active reading cycle on a year 8 reading class.

Sitting here, I realise that – but for putting the bins out – I haven’t stepped foot outdoors since this weekend. I could have done, but I’ve decided to reflect on my #ChacePD week instead. That WAS The Week That Was.

NQT Lesson Swap: Removing the Crutches

As a species, the NQT is a self-critical beast. She will admit to falling behind in her marking, or to not quite mastering differentiation for the EAL child. She may experience problems with behaviour management and, without shame, copiously fill out incident reports and referrals for detention. But, on the whole, while all other props may fall away, they will cling on to that reliable handhold: their subject knowledge.

So what might happen when the handhold is less firm, the crutch unsteady?

For some time now I have taken an enquiry approach to NQT induction at my school. Over 3-5 week cycles I set up a question or theme (it might be AfL, or independent learning) with an introductory ‘input’ session; the NQTs then spend some of their reduced timetable allocation watching others for these skills, or consciously planning their own lessons to try out a pedagogical technique. Finally they blog the results of their enquiries so that their colleagues and others can comment.

Subject Knowledge Venn Diagram

We started with a fairly classic definition of subject knowledge. My English teacher, linguist, Health and Social Care specialist and geographers are all happy with what they know about their subjects, and are becoming more secure with how to prepare their students for how to succeed. They can swot away questions about Dickens and volcanoes with aplomb. Subject knowledge? They have it sorted.

But just how significant is this to their overall effectiveness as a teacher? What is left of them in front of a class, when they are stripped of the atlases and bilingual dictionaries that they carry in their heads? Dropped into the alien environment of someone else’s subject, how well would they cope?

NQT induction programmes (indeed, pretty much most professional development) concentrate on the wider teacher attributes and pedagogies such as behaviour management, marking and feedback, differentiation and the like. Mine too. The theory goes that, by improving in these areas, any teacher can be effective. More than most in the profession, NQTs are supremely conscious of this, as they hoover up advice from colleagues and submit themselves to observation feedback. My NQTs are as keen as the next, so I wanted to know how far they could rely on those ‘non-subject’ skills, if they were teaching outside their own discipline.

So my English teacher, linguist, Health and Social Care specialist and geographers swapped their lessons – just one – and blogged their findings.

Ali Tan is a geography teacher, just hopped off a plane from Canada. She took on Health and Social Care for her enquiry. “Would you still consider yourself as a qualified teacher without deep subject content? My geographical knowledge was thrown out the window the minute I walked inside Room AP1. What can I possibly say to these prospective students about the learning objective: to explain the physical and psychological changes which may be associated with ageing? No longer can I talk about facts, diagrams, and maps on one-child policy, on battle of biosphere, and on volcanoes! It is now about being able to discuss how can we as citizens help an elderly person maintain their self-esteem.”

She found the experience unsettling. She handled the discussion, relying on her common sense, but she found herself counting down the minutes to the end of the lesson. “My reality is we live in a society instilled with the idea that teachers should know more than students. Isn’t that what makes confident and competent teachers in the first place?” And yet, she found the students engaged, happy to answer questions and to offer suggestions to fill in the gaps in her own knowledge.

mnoursite made the reverse swap, from Health and Social to Geography. “Being able to effectively plan and teach well structured lessons, differentiation, AFL, strong behavior management, creating a positive climate for learning, that’s just a few to name. However, I do think that the securer you are in your subject knowledge, the clearer you are of how you expect the students to progress.”

She was impressed by the students’ awareness of China’s one-child policy, and with their ability to answer questions orally. Her own questioning skills were on display, but she quickly noticed that her own shallow grasp of the subject prevented her from probing them more deeply. She could manage them well enough, but she could not challenge them much.

agiacopazzi swapped his French class for a Geography one. He had earlier spent a year as a cover supervisor, teaching mainly MFL and History, so he was more confident than the others that he could cope with the unfamiliar.

“As the lesson progressed I enjoyed the experience more and more”

He felt the students were very well behaved, and that they were able to discuss the topic (trans-national corporations) fully. He got feedback telling him that his questioning had promoted deeper discussion. As the students were able to reach a conclusion, he felt that he had moved their understanding on.

There is no doubt, from this short enquiry, that subject knowledge does make a difference to a teacher’s competence. They are more confident, they can probe more deeply with their questioning, they can set their expectations higher for their students. But on its own it is not enough. Skills of questioning, of managing behaviour and of structuring learning can come from a different place. So, even without the crutches, a good teacher can walk confidently.

Don’t waste time observing!

There were only about 8 in the class, including normally very rowdy boys and a couple of near-mute girls. Ruth, the Senco, was teaching them PSE, or something similar. I had been having problems controlling behaviour, and it had been gently suggested to me that I might observe Ruth. I was in my first year of teaching, but this was after the days of ‘probation’ and before the days of ‘NQT induction’, so whatever programme I had was ad hoc at best.

I sat at the back of Ruth’s classroom. A couple of the boys were insulting each other, and the girls shared a make-up mirror, but the atmosphere was relaxed and cooperative. Ruth introduced the topic and the kids were immediately engaged. I can’t remember the topic, and I couldn’t see what in particular she did to hook them. I knew enough already to realise that she was working hard and making it look easy: she made sure she addressed comments to each child, especially if she spotted them wavering. But I couldn’t locate whatever magic she had that I didn’t. I concluded that these kids were just ‘good for Ruth’, in a way they were not with me.

It really isn’t easy learning from watching someone else. It strikes me that there are essentially two types of observations going on in schools. The first is where the observer is assessing the teacher. I do a lot of this with PGCE students, NQTs, for appraisal. With younger teachers I won’t usually be putting a grade on the lesson, but they will still demand an evaluative adjective from me, and will still expect me to prescribe a dose of something to make them better. Where the lesson is graded, this can come down to, So how could I have made this outstanding?  The observer in these cases is not really trying to learn anything; they are simply looking for evidence to grade, and a form of words to let their colleague down gently. I exaggerate, but there is no escaping the simple truth: the observer is not the learner.

The second common type of observation is that undertaken by student teachers or NQTs as part of their development programme. There are PGCEs students in schools this week following a schedule of observations, perhaps doing very little else. There are NQTs, instructed by their mentors to use some of their 10% timetable reduction to ‘watch and learn.’ Sometimes they come and observe me. Oftentimes I direct them to someone on a ‘peer observation’ list I keep for the purpose. In they go; out they come. Somewhere a target will have been ‘met’ or a standard ‘addressed’. Everyone is happy, but what ‘learning’, if any, has occurred? I wonder: do we even ask?

Again, I exaggerate: the process is surely never as ho-hum as that. But I still think the question persists: What about the learning?

If we take a step back, and consider what we already know about learning, maybe we can make observation a little more productive. The learners we usually deal with – our students – would not take in very much if we merely expected them to observe us. Very little of our teaching is about being watched, instructing, performing in front of someone sitting anonymously at the back of the room. Rather, we expect learning to be active, and inter-active, with learners usually moving through a taxonomy of applying, analysing and creating in the space of one lesson. Learning also involves a degree of reiteration, practice and gradual perfection. Importantly, we presume learning is best when its objectives are clear and explicit. In sum, learning happens when it is purposeful and progressive.

Now ask: does this kind of learning have a chance of occurring when we put teachers in the back of rooms to watch other teachers? My guess is, not often.

But we do spend an awful lot of time doing it. Oh, the hours! I would be grateful for any replies to this from people who think they have secured good learning from teacher observation. But here I will record a few of the things we do some of the time, but should do more often than we do.

  • Our ‘peer observation’ card lists staff who are willing to be observed. Crucially, they are grouped by area of pedagogical expertise. So, some are happy to be seen doing groupwork, others are whizzes in behaviour management.
  • The same card also lists the staff who are willing to observe others. We realised a little while ago that many teachers stop observing others once they get past induction; likewise, outside of the pressures of appraisal and review, few staff get to try out a teaching strategy and get feedback on it from a sympathetic colleague.
  • Aside from the formal lesson observation forms we use for grading purposes, we have developed half a dozen others which each has a specific focus, e.g. independent learning, literacy, student engagement, behaviour management. Each is structured as a sort of checklist of features that might be seen in a lesson, with space for notes by the observer. The reverse asks the observer to compile 5 learning points; then recompile them after discussing them with a colleague.
  • An integral feature of induction at my school now is NQT Blogging. They have a session where they are introduced to some teaching strategies – two weeks ago our AST and others shared some AfL ideas with them. They then have two to three weeks to observe a colleague, focusing on those strategies, then apply some of this in their own lessons. The NQTs then reconvene as a group to blog their reflections, making sure they each follow each other and post constructive comments.

In these ways, I hope to ensure that observation has a ‘learning objective’ or focus. There is also the chance that it will take the observer-learner through the understanding-applying-analysing-creating phases that we know assist learning. None of this is yet embedded or widespread, and I’m still developing my thinking on it. But, with a little bit of this, I might have made a lot more of my time watching Ruth all those years ago, and those kids might have been ‘good for me’ too.