February 23, 2011

Reflections on Week 20

Transfer week! Which meant I was taking over some but not all of my classes.

Year 8 aren't too bad, I've quite content infront of them and we did some good stuff together. The first lesson plan had way too much (as I wanted, better too much than too little) but to a greater extent that I expected. This was partially due to my late arrival (no choice; tutor group across the grounds), their teacher wanting a word with the class about something or other and the register taking forever because the class is large, I'm learning names, and some people aren't on it so have to be added each time. Second lesson had too little because I wanted to finish area of a triangle without starting the next bit. A little bit of something then a week off before seeing it again isn't good.

I find the room quite hard to adapt to, my old classrooms were long and thin (ie board at the shorter side of the rectangle) whereas these are the other way around. The seating plan makes my eyes spin because it's 3 or 4 rows deep and 6 or 7 wide! I struggle with spacial awareness at the best of times (eg working out which knob works a particular ring on the hob) so I can't use this one quickly at all, I can only give myself co-ordinates from my desk then count them out in front of me. Not ideal!

I also have a projector and whiteboard which are next to each other so I can't scrawl over my projected diagrams. Horrible! It's so hard to work without that, I never realised what a useful tool it was. It's really useful for presenting the basics and making the pupils fill in the rest, or an exam style question and how should we annotate it? Asking that then clicking the next bit of info up when they say one I've done already feels false. Loses the spontenaity and makes answers which I didn't prepare for look 'wrong'.

Year 9 are tough. Team teaching is new to me and it's the combination of my toughest class yet and the way there is an extra person to factor in (from both our perspectives) that make it hard. We're still getting used to each other and each other's expectations. I've been worried about us treading on each other's toes and I've been afraid of accidentally making one/both of us look like an idiot by doing something eg telling a kid not to do something when he was specifically given permission by the teacher, which could easily happen with my attention elsewhere. I've possibly gone to the other extreme so there is stuff left with neither of us covering it in an effort to be too nice. I've been trying hard not to undermine her's authority especially at the start when it's important she can establish it. I've never team taught before and she has team taught where they both stand at the front and do the teacher role at the same time so this set up is a new experience for both of us. After the first lesson our mentor said I need to have a more specific role so the teacher asked me to work with two specific boys who were sat one behind the other. I was to avoid hovering over their shoulder all lesson (I approved of this, nothing more offputting or obvious) but would stick in that general corner of the room. Unfortuantly one of the boys had crutches and so was sat across the room - which we both didn't realise would happen. I instead moved between the two, looking at the pupils around them instead, which turned out to be an unpopular move with the mentor. It's difficult I think because the job description of TA is different to teacher, it's not my place to do a general overview of the class which is what I slotted into. So the things I will do differently:

*Bfl for pupils talking when the teacher is talking.

*confront pupils who get out of their seat.

*Focus on the pupils that my support has been planned for and don't spend time I should be helping them, getting other pupils on task.

*A difficult one is that I explained a big concept to another girl who passed it on the 5 around her - again, not where my provision was planned! As time goes by we'll know the pupils better and be able to judge beforehand if I should facilitate this - perhaps we could anticipate this girl or others being in that situation and therefore plan for me to facilitate it. We did both like how this happened though, peer teaching is good and wouldn't have been able to take place if I hadn't helped the first girl.

*Don't wander around the room - again too general when I should be specifically targetting.

*An interesting one is the advice not to stop talking when the teacher is addressing the class. I have done from advice I picked up from readings or sessions: a TA should not carry on when the teacher has asked everyone to stop as it shows the rules don't apply to everyone. I like it as it shows where everyone's focus should be, any kids who I was taking to needs to pay attention to her anyway, and it gets ambigious if my talking requires an answer as then there are pupil voices during the "silence" too. But it does mean I stop the targetting help I was providing and the pupil looses out on the personalised learning opportunity. Mentor suggests I carry on then if pupils start talking the teacher can ask "who's voices should I be able to hear?" and they can say "yours and Miss Knapp's". Given that he does this with his classes, they should be trained to know how to answer and it would go smoothly.

Lots to think about! I'm starting to think team teaching is harder than solo teacher because of the extra coordinating that needs to take place, especially during the lesson as events unfold. I can see that when the partnership has developed more then we will be more effective together than alone. I am lucky to have someone similar to me to team teach with - it's something I requested before placements were decided as I thought it would be a useful experience.

These lessons have been a challenge, as planned for us! My mentor put in two lesson before half term as he warned us the first lessons would be a shock and it would be useful to have the break to prepare ourselves for it. It certainly worked!

Master's is going terribly. Despite expectations of a light teaching load until Master's is over, I've spent all my spare time planning for lessons, having it fine tuned by my mentor and replanned again. So Master's is making me panic.


- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Liz, I know I’m hardly one to give lectures in professionalism, but points 3, 4 and 5 make you sound like you’re criticising Emily. Now I’m sure you didn’t mean them to sound that way, but I still think it would be good if you edited them to say something more like, “Emily told me to stay with 2 particular individuals, which I failed to do”.

    24 Feb 2011, 18:54

  2. Ooh er, no! To be edited in a min! All 5 points are from the mentor! Emily was happy with what I was did, mentor was not. She’d specified two boys to work with that lesson but not to be obviously velcro-ed to them hence the wandering. On said wandering I noticed some girls needing help which neither of us anticipated before the lesson which is why they weren’t on the list. I helped. Was good thing to do according to me and Emily, was bad thing to do according to Mentor. I’m torn between doing what I think is right and what I am asked to do as a TA (I believe in following the teachers requests to help up their authority to the class) with what the mentor says. He intended for it to go that way I think – to see what we’d do when left to it then give up half term to correct it (his reasons for making us do two lesson before half term). Hard to know what to do really, the class is pretty bad and Emily has a stressful ol’ job being their teacher. From the more peaceful role of TA, it’s easier to spot those not working, needing help, etc, which is why we liked me doing that especially in the early days of teaching them with 32 kids to keep track of!

    24 Feb 2011, 20:36


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