Getting Papped

Do you have a school papper?

Go into any school these days as a visitor and you are likely to get ‘papped’ by pupil, staff or both. Even if you aren’t a celeb then a school will make you feel like one.

Schools love taking photos because they can publish them instantly on social media and dump them on their website. It’s great publicity for what’s going on and not even GDPR seems to scare them away. Teachers who love to Tweet will waste no time in taking a picture and sharing so that the whole world can marvel at Emily’s handwriting. Lovely.

No that long ago the only real image capture was done by ‘the school camera’. Then a bit after that digital cameras took everyone’s breath away and papping anything that moved became the norm.

Now, phones and tablets make papping and photo-bombing second-nature and part of the school day. If you haven’t put at least half a dozen photos on Twitter by lunchtime then you aren’t doing your job.

Schools that pap the whole day through and share every living moment takes time. Heads with time on their hands will justify taking photos to showcase the wonderful things happening at school. Yeah, right. For schools that are fire-fighting and busy doing other stuff, taking a photo isn’t a priority.

But we need those photos as evidence of what’s actually happening and if staff haven’t got the time then now is the time to employ a full-time School Papper. This person would spend their entire day taking photos visiting every classroom and capturing the action. They would also grab corridor moments, playground incidents and even staff with their guard down in the staff room.

Of course, employing a School Papper will be an issue so it’s more likely to be a voluntary role or given to a TA. Of course, there are human resources in the school that we can give this job to and there are a lot of them: pupils.

Pupils love to pap. Look around, they are probably doing a selfie right now. But there is a serious side to all this. In their rather magnificent book Talk-Less Teaching, Isabella Wallace and Leah Kirkman reckon we should promote Paparazzi Pupils in our lessons for peer teaching purposes.

They say that a really important part of being a pupil is being a good judge of what a good piece of work looks like. So, give them an opportunity to look at each other’s work and start papping. This is quite simply selecting a couple of pupils at a time and asking them to circulate in the classroom searching for and then papping examples of what they think are great pieces of work.

At a suitable point in the lesson these images can easily be shared with the whole class and a discussion started as to why the photos were taken and what makes the work so special or stand out. When pupils have to justify their choices then this requires them to think carefully about the why. It also makes them think what is and isn’t good about their own work.

As Wallace and Kirkman (2014) say, “In this way, you are enabling learners to explicitly articulate the features of excellent work, as well as magpie all kinds of quality ideas from the best examples in the class.”

It can be used to motivate pupils because if you know that your work could be snapped and then shared will this make you put in the extra effort? I think so, especially if you say you’ll “put it on Twitter”.

Taking photos galore and plonking them on social media is great PR and parents love to see their children but what about the work? If we can discriminate more and select images that are worthy of being shared then pupils realise there is a high standard they need to reach and that involves some real effort.


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