All entries for January 2012

January 03, 2012

TIP NUMBER 6 – Be observant

Starting a GTP year, you have little experience of standing in front of a class, let alone, imparting wisdom. It is therefore imperative to find out who the awesome teachers are in a school (best way to find that out - ask the students) and go and observe them. I had 3 ASTs at my school last year, and another 4 at my complimentary placement, and I managed to see all of them at least once. One thing that struck me with all of them, was their awareness of what has occurring at any given point. Simply brilliant, and now something I want to aspire to.

Pupil tracking is a great way to start. and you fully appreciate the school day as a whole. Observing teachers in other subjects is imperative. I learnt so much last year from an English and a D+T teacher in particular. The English teacher even made taking the register useful, asking each to answer with a key word from the previous lesson. One thing I wish I would have done, and aim to do this coming term, is go and observe an IT teacher. My computer based lessons have been hit and miss, as it so much easier for a student to go off track. Getting some key ideas in how to maintain their on-taskness (it is a new word I've invented) is a priority for me.

I had one of those mini-essays on observing 5 good pieces of practice. Maybe it would be a good initiative to write the same essay each term, but using different examples. 15 good pieces of practice in the bank seems like a solid foundation to build a career in teaching upon.

So, watch as many people as possible. If you are in a department with a number of sets all doing similar things, observe a couple of teachers teaching the same thing. It is so interesting seeing how colleagues approach things differently, what they emphasise in lessons as important.

So watch, watch, watch.

January 02, 2012


It became apparent that each teacher, as they went through training, their NQT year, and established themselves within their schools, developed their own method to teach specific topics within their subject.

All I can say is, when observing a lesson, take everything at face value, and reflect on whether you, and your personality, could do the lesson like you have just seen. During my GTP year, my mentors were amazing, offered tonnes of great advice and some wonderful ideas, shared some resources and a few tricks of the trade. As a trainee, use them when stymied. But if you are teaching a lesson about a topic you know well, then develop your own way of doing it. Put your own slant on it, and most of all, enforce your personality on it.

I am quite the showman, I don't mind singing and dancing to entertain the crowd, making a fool of myself etc. This of course, would be a night mare for others. I also love sport, Chelsea til I die, Frank Lampard is my dream man (don't worry, the wife knows), and I have in the past achieved quite a lot in Badminton, Cricket and Golf. To really showcase your passion for a subject, introduce other things you are passionate about also.

Now there are things I would struggle to manipulate to include any of the above. But there is 1 thing students love to do: build models. My obsession with Lego has never diminished since the age of 3, my Lego watch is my pride and joy, and really helps develop a rapport with the class. In my classroom, I have a good stash of Lego models set up: cars, planes, boats, bikes, buildings, space shuttles..... and they make great props.

I would hedge a bet, if you were to ask any student I have taught so far in 4 terms, what my hobbies were, Chelsea, golf and Lego would be mentioned by the majority. Of course, the giant Frank Lampard poster in my classroom is a major give away!

Anyway, in conclusion, what I am trying to say is, do not be scared to put your own slant on things, make lessons your own, and even if you have an unusual hobby nobody else has ever done, well it might make a good starter, show a video of you doing it (I love making videos for lessons). This is the year to fall flat on your face in a lesson, because we are all here to train and develop. To be honest, your NQT year is even better, as you are on your own. If a lesson doesn't go to plan, then only you and 30 odd kids know. And as long as you've put some effort in, they'll appreciate it.

So in a nutshell: Be yourself.

January 01, 2012

Ho–Ho–Holy smokes, more marking?

Christmas - 'tis the season to be jolly.

Absolute tosh!

Well it is really, and I have had an awesome time so far. Back to school Wednesday, so nearing that dreaded time when I have to fight with the ironing board and rid my shirt collection of those creases (which after Christmas takes me up to 15 shirts (3 week supply - boom (not including the tux shirts I have, and 3 Hawaii style numbers - incase of a real emergency))).

My last post mentioned I had 135 pieces of coursework to mark. Sweet odours raven (in the words of Ron Burgundy), It has been a dull few nights on my own once wife and daughter have hit the hay (anyone understand why hitting hay would make a suitable metaphor for sleeping? What has hay ever done to us). Talking of hitting Haye, Klitschko bottled his last fight didn't he?

I have come to the conclusion that marking is the single least fun thing in teaching. However, I do appreciate its importance, and from what I saw from ofsted inspectors, they spend as much time looking at books and asking them questions as they do observing teachers teach. So it is something I, and we, must get on with and do properly.

Guess I am not really allowed to tell the world how my classes have done in this coursework assessment, but I have at points been surprised, confused, delighted and angry when marking them. I would also say it has given me a much better perception of each student, on how mature they are and their ability to listen to instructions, never mind their fundamental science and exam skills. It will inform ones planning and intervention no doubt.

Hope everyone has had an awesome Christmas, and may 2012 be super duper.

January 2012

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