Drew Buddie: This is how I work

I am Drew Buddie and this is how I work


Twitter: @digitalmaverick

Current job: Head of (newly titled) Computing

Been a teacher since: 1987

Location: Rickmansworth, Herts

Current mobile device: iPhone 5

Current computer: I currently use a battered old Acer laptop creaking under the strain of all of the malware software that my son has inadvertently downloaded onto it in his eternal pursuit of the perfect video file conversion software. I also am starting to rely more and more on my iPad but I sometimes feel like I need a much more robust device (if some kind soul has one lying around).

School-issued devices: None – having an iPad of my own, I ‘donated’ my school-given one to a colleague so that she could participate in our staff iPad pilot scheme.

One word that best describes how you work: Flibbertigibbet

How do you manage your calendar/diary?

My daughter is in charge of that 🙂

How do you manage your lesson planning?

I guess having taught my subject for over 20 years, most of my lessons are ‘in my head’.  I seldom use notes, except when I am being observed, or if I am covering a topic that is new to me.  I work paperlessly with my students, seldom if ever giving out worksheets, or printing out their completed work.  I try to prepare thoroughly for each lesson I teach by ensuring that the resources we need are available and that they work properly.  Crucially, I have a back-up plan for every occasion, in case the technology that I have to rely on does not work – so for every ICT lesson I have a non-ICT lesson up my sleeve, just in case.  I currently teach all of Years 7 -9 (that’s 4 classes in each year group) so a lesson is well-refined by the time the final group has me for a particular topic.  I always make notes on what happens in class and frequently ask  for feedback from my students about what they thought of what they did in class.  The 4 R’s (Resilience, Reciprocity, Reflection, Resourcefulness) are firmly embedded within our school curriculum and I practice what I preach by employing each of these when evaluating my own performance. I started Twitter as a reflective tool, never for a moment thinking using that indispensible tool would take me on such a life-changing personal learning journey.

How do you manage your marking?

I do it all in school, as my classes tend to be small. I use comment only marking as my assessment for learning policy.

What’s your best tip for term-time weekends?

Don’t forget your family! Also, don’t forget yourself! After I have enjoyed a relaxing weekend, if possible I allocate myself 7pm onwards on Sunday evenings to doing school-related work, the only exceptions being at pressurised times of year (such as when 120 reports have to be written).  I also use weekends to learn what I can from reading – usually by  following the links I’ve favourited  in Twitter.  I feel that ‘favouriting’ is massively undervalued by most Twitter users, and (let’s be honest) by Twitter themselves.  I have in excess of 75,000 Twitter favourites, all of which are (or were) linked to my Delicious account via Packrati.us. I allocate a 2-3 hour period during the weekend to sift through the Favourites I’ve made during the week.  I also use this process to read articles that I have saved for offline reading via Instapaper.  I live on the school premises, so it can sometimes be hard to escape from the parochial nature of our school community, hence I try to go to gigs or travel around if I can when the opportunity arises.

What do you do during school holidays?

I start the summer holidays watching the spectacular coverage of the Tour de France (I bought an HD TV for this specific reason). I then go to music festivals later in the year – Green Man and End of the Road.  I have started volunteering for various organisations and I do a fair bit of that during the holidays.  This summer I am an invited speaker at the Scratch Conference in Barcelona, a city I have never visited before,  so i am really looking forward to going there. I was recently awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship with which I have been given a sizeable grant to carry out personal research around the world during this coming year – I will be doing my travel (to Estonia, Ireland, Colombia & southern USA) over the holiday periods in the coming academic year.  Although relaxing during my holidays too, if I see a course I am interested in, and can learn  from, then I sign up to attend it. Holiday periods also give me time to explore new topics that I want to embark on for the coming year eg. Open Badges, programming, our Comenius project are some topics I will be looking at this summer. I also maintain a project for our Gifted and Talented students which takes place within our VLE every summer.  The participants have anonymised accounts so that no participant knows the identity (and therefore the ages) of other participants.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Scoop.it, Bit.ly, Toondoo, Kerpoof, Bubbl.us, Tagxedo, Delicious, Storybird, Powtoon are just a few.

What offline tools can’t you live without?

The Moleskine in which I note down the pick of my Twitter ‘Favourites’ (somewhat retro and a bit bizarre I accept). Jesse Schell’s ‘Art of Game Design’ is a remarkable book which has hugely influenced changes in my recent approach to teaching and is my coffee table book of choice. I also like my 20Q quiz machine, my Powerball (which is supposed to eliminate RSI) and currently, my MakeyMakey.

What’s your main workspace like?

I have a VERY CLUTTERED (mainly due to the TEN Big Traks that I have stored therein) office which overlooks our 300 acre grounds – it is a remarkable place to have an office (especially when the apple & cherry blossom is in full bloom) and makes me count my blessings every day. I used to have a ceramic  scale model of Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University in it, but as it was 4 feet square I had to get rid of it.

What do you listen to while you work?

I recently bought a turntable, so have been rediscovering my old vinyl, as well as buying new.  My favourite music to work to at the moment is anything by The Decemberists, Calexico or Sigur Ros, and more specifically the truly beautiful ‘Mariqopa’ by Damien Jurado (I could listen to the track ‘Working Titles all day long)’,  Admiral Fallow’s ‘Boots met my face’, British Sea Power’s sublime soundtrack to ‘Man of Aran’ or Beirut’s ‘Gulag Orkestar’.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Scooping a  great weblink to Scoop.it for later reading by either myself, or my students.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I don’t use one :-O

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

My record player – a recent purchase, it helped me rediscover my vinyl collection and compelled me to start buying vinyl instead of CDs and MP3s.  It also made me decide to play much more music in my home and to buy LPs for my children for their birthdays & Christmas.  I am sad that my children will never know the feeling of being in a queue outside Woolworth’s on a rainy  Saturday morning with pocket money in hand, waiting to buy the latest single releases. Or that ecstatic feeling the first time I put on the ‘Bat out of Hell’ platter having saved for 5 weeks to buy it.  I also like my handheld stapler in the shape of a dog’s head, which I try to keep handy. My Aeropress coffee filter is the greatest culinary aid I have ever purchased – no other coffee maker comes close.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I believe I am good at bringing people together from diverse backgrounds.  I always engage with people on Twitter and follow a diverse number of people from all sorts of backgrounds based on my personal interests.  As a result I have a ‘quiver full of arrows’ to call on whenever people want someone to solve a problem, provide advice or speak at a conference. I am also good at doing a Burns Supper (from cooking, to singing and reciting ‘To a haggis’. I am also good at letting a garden get out of hand.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Erratic.  I’m a bit of a nighthawk – I have to blame satellite TVs almost constant showing of CSI episodes for that! I work best at  around 11pm to 1am.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Anyone who has seen my LOUD  shirts, or some of my TeachMeet presentations will know that I give a very good impression of being extrovert when the need arises, but I fear that this gives a false impression of who I am. I would say I am introverted in my daily life and at home, often preferring solitude to the company of others whilst I read and listen to music.  Having said that,  I am quite an energetic teacher in the classroom, and whatever else my students may derive from my lessons, they can’t fail (I hope) to at least grasp my enthusiasm for my subject. I think, being almost 20 years in the same job, I have perhaps become too comfortable with my working surroundings, which may have led to me almost blending in so much that colleagues and students can forget I am around.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My wee Gran was full of  ‘Scottish Grannie-isms’, one of my favourites being ‘Keep a £1 in each of your trouser pockets and you’ll stand between your two closest friends’.  The worst piece of pre-teaching advice I was given is undoubtedly the old ‘Don’t smile til Christmas’ mantra.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to see  Ian Stuart  (@islayian) answer these same questions.


Many thanks to Drew for agreeing to post here. Other This is how I work posts are available here.

Drew Buddie: This is how I work

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