October 14, 2010

A long long time ago…

I found this on my old soon-to-be-demolished blog from when I was an undergraduate. This was written shortly after the first ever lesson I taught alone. One teacher was ill, so I turned up at her lesson to help the supply teacher (I'd found this to be a great experience as they aren't maths specialists and most aren't confident about the material, meaning I get to take a really active role). The lesson started with some miscommunication between myself and the supply teacher, and she sat at the back with her laptop and got on with something, leaving me to do the lesson. She sent me several dirty looks during the lesson which was confusing until the end when she said "I expect better behaviour management off PGCE students on their final placement" to which I explained I wasn't a PGCE student!

It was an excellent experience to see how badly pupils will behave when they aren't given boundaries, how some will work solidly through the mayhem going on around them, and how I still very much wanted to go into teaching at the end of it! I talked to their usual teacher when she returned back to school days later, who described them as the worst class she's had in 30 years. She did say she'd terrified them into silence the following lesson when she painted me as some sort of class inspector who was highly disappointed with what they'd done! I'm not sure I could manage such blatant lying, but it sure had the maths staffroom roaring with laughter. She knew exactly which boy had caused me major grief, interestingly I saw him again just the other day, now a big year 10. He was as good as gold, even to me when I questioned him on his work. 

EDIT: Highlight to read. I think my old blog had a different background colour therefore different text colour which has been automatically carried over to here. I can't find the change text colour button either...

March 19, 2009

I'm currently spending my easter holidays not at my parents house like usual, not actually *on* holiday (or even better on the climbing trip to Mallorca), not even revising for my really-quite-soon exams. Not even doing much on my maths essay which I've been working on for absolute ever. I'm working full time in school, as part of the Student Associates Scheme. 

At the end of last year I was having a look at what modules I'd want to take in my second year and I came across IE2A6 Introduction to Secondary School Teaching. I'd sort of figured I wanted to be a teacher, I quite liked it in year 12 and it's been my career of choice unless something better comes along (4 years later, nothing has). So this module sounded pretty interesting. I have to write 6 essays on teaching (worth 24CATS in total. Scary for someone who hasn't written an essay since GCSE English but the lack of an exam is a major plus) and to write those I have to have some teaching experience. Thats where the Student Associates Scheme comes in. 

It's some sort of Government organised thing. We get to try out teaching in return for "raising aspirations" of students who wouldn't normally consider going to university. Oh and we get paid £600 for 15 days work. 

So I am currently getting up at 6:30 every morning, going to my school on the other side of Coventry and doing various things in each of the 5 lessons of the day (despite the fact our handbook says to expect to spend 50% of our time in lessons). We do a mix of things, plain old observing, working one to one with a pupil who struggles, walking round the class helping anyone who is stuck (which is either really dull if everyone is ok or like a game of Whack-A-Mole if everyone is confused), teaching a starter activity, or if we're feeling particularily brave, a whole lesson. Which is what I did today. 

It was a year 8 class of 30 pupils, and seriously, I'd forgotten what  kids of that age can be like! It was quite tough compared to other lessons I could have taken; the bottom sets only have 12ish pupils in, plus if their regular teacher is there they tend to behave (incidentally, bottom sets, at least at this school, were not as I expected. They are full of scary looking pupils who look like they'll beat me up after school (and a couple probably would given the chance. But many are genuinely good students who unfortuantly just can't do maths. In year 9 we're currently doing addition of negative numbers and it's a struggle). I was doing a cover lesson with a cover teacher who knew no maths. According the the sheet I was given, the class had started stem-and-leaf diagrams the lesson before and were working through a worksheet on them. If they finished they were to do an exercise in the book. Sounded great, but most of the class had lost the sheet. Some weren't there the lesson before so didn't know what a stem and leaf diagram was. One boy had sized me up well and tried almost every trick in the book: he claimed he didn't understand a think and proceded disrupt my explanation at every moment. The questions not only required knowledge of stem and leaf diagrams but also median, mode, mean and range which most of the class had forgotten. The back row somehow managed to cover themselves and the desks and the floor in yoghurt. Aforementioned boy decided to object to my "picking on him" at this point and refused to see the lack of logic in his statement given he he wasn't in the back row and I hadn't talked to him at all until he joined in. Must not try to reason with pupils in the future. Almost everyone needed the toliet. The girls at the front were cutting up one of their books, in such a way to create a large loop of paper they then planned to stand as many of them as possible in. Some wonderful wonderful pupils has worked solidly through all the work and so unfortuantly had finished half an hour early. The textbook didn't have any more questions. With the advice given by the person who taught us about open questions in our uni sessions, I set them writing their own questions on some paper, then they swapped questions. Plan was to swap back and mark the question they wrote but hallelujah, it was the end of the lesson. 

Luckily it was the end of the day as I was about to have a heart attack. Still, I don't think it can get much worse than that, and I imagine actually that it will never be like that once I am a teacher as I will know which requests are genuine and which are just to cause trouble. Plus tomorrow I'm going to ask how discipline works. Given how loads of the boys were whining about how outrageously unfair it was for me to ask them to be quiet and get on with their work, I didn't want to actually be unfair by giving them a detention or bad mark when the routine is to give a warning first, or whatever. 

I start tomorrow with a very nice top set year 11. I'm going to prove the area of a triangle = 1/2(ab sin C). Piece of cake in comparison I would imagine. :-)


I had a very nice thing happen in my year 7 Whack-A-Mole class: a little group at the side were asking me who I was, was I a teacher, etc. I said I wasn't but would be in a few years and they asked if I could teach at their school as they thought I was really good. Awwww.


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