Day one of el guided observation week.
After a little admin and introductions, the day really began once I had met Carol, a lovely TA who was happy enough to put up with me being joined to her hip for the day. Having my guided observation handbook, notepad and pen at the ready, I was ready to wrangle as much as possible from my lesson experiences. Once I was in the classroom, however, I felt compelled to get in amongst the action as much as possible, whilst making a few key bullet points every so often; as such, the density of my notes aren't quite what I was hoping for, but I still feel like it’s been a very educational day.
Lesson one was science. For this lesson I decided to take some brief notes on the lesson outcome and structure. The LO was 'I can describe how energy is transferred in infrared radiation'. The lesson was roughly chunked into a starter, which recapped previous work on convection and conduction through a Q&A lesson, a development - which elicited why certain situations of heating couldn't be convection or conduction, and a main experiment - which concerned hot water in a black can and a foil wrapped can. The lesson was well broken down, but I would have looked for a little more feedback from some of the quieter students. On the whole I was able to participate and take feedback on work from students which helped me to understand how well they had followed the lesson. Carol described her role with one of the students who requires a little maintenance to stay on task. On the whole he had a very good lesson.
The second lesson was year 7 English, the first of several lessons in my subject field. The teacher was very enthusiastic and gave the class an energy that I would like to replicate once I get the opportunity. The students did some self-assessment and contextualised this (2 stars and a wish) within target objectives so that they could move up on the writing level scale. NB/ AFOREST techniques (handy)!
Principally, however, I did some close work with one lad who was level 3 for writing (with a target of 3plus) and warranted some closer attention. I helped him to organise some brilliantly imaginative ideas which he simply struggled to construct into coherent sentences. It was clear he was as creative as many of the other kids, but he just couldn't express it on paper; consequently he was very shy and withdrawn. With a little patience however, I was able to elicit some good work and give pointers for improving his writing. I was mindful not to throw too many corrections at him, so I focused on punctuation, word order and capital letters, letting some more complex spelling and paragraphing issues go, although I did ask him to check one or two words later in the dictionary. The experience was very useful as I'm sure I will meet many more kids just like him.
The third lesson was year 9 English, which was fantastic, if only for the behavioural theories for learning information it threw at me. This wasn't a lesson I was going to sit quietly in a corner and take notes in, so I went straight into the thick of it. The lesson was disrupted frequently by a small group of loud girls who appeared to be looking for attention as much as possible. The teacher was firm but fair, making early use of the 'choices' system but also rewarding one of the girls with a merit sticker when she did manage to produce some good work at the end of the lesson. I was able to help identify personification, alliteration, similes etc with the students and help them to develop their own use of these techniques in their writing. By making the subject matter creative and imaginative, some of the less focused students became quite excited by the potential to write descriptive, interesting pieces of work. This recalled the lecture where Jonothan Neelands talked about 'discipline' (behaviour) and 'discipline' (subject) - very apt!!
Overall this was a very challenging lesson because I got some personal comments from the girls who were looking for a little rise from me, either to get me feeling uncomfortable or to bring me down to their level. By a mixture of ignoring, stating their comments were inappropriate and bringing focus back to work, this was quickly dealt with. If they were testing me I think I passed. Lesson note - make sure I go round the quiet ones as well! I made a mental effort to do this and saw some brilliant work as a consequence. If I had one critique it was that the teacher gave c1's to the same students several times; although this was probably conscious, consistency would probably be better served by taking the appropriate students onto a c2. In my opinion.
The last lesson I'm going to write about was a year 8 English class. These students were as good as gold, a contrast from the lesson before. What I took most from this lesson was the clear AfL. The students were asked to write on whiteboards examples of similes, metaphors, complex sentences, compound sentences etc... feedback was then give using the 'roman thumb' method. It was clearly useful for the teacher who told me after the lesson that she would use it to inform her next lesson's group work - AfL in operation! A quick quiz starter is a great way to begin a lesson - take note! Further notes: SoW was on biographies, for which their was a long project homework which the students seemed to like - a 3 chapter personal biography. I also liked the teaching of grammar (in this case conjunctives) in context. In this lesson this was done through a class reading of 'Boy', by Roald Dahl.
Conclusion: much to take away from today. Carol was brilliant and gave me great insight into the work of a TA and how useful the support can be. Roll on Wednesday!