All entries for March 2011
March 28, 2011
I have something serious to say.
Today marked the start of a big change for me at school, and it is really grating me.
As a year 11 associate form tutor, I have been assigned with 2 forms all year. The 54 students in those forms are the people I know best at school, are people who I have developed really good relationships with, and there have been incidents over the last couple of weeks which suggest a few of them see me as someone they trust to discuss topics they perhaps wouldn't with others. Over the 7 months, I have built an awesome rapport with every form ember, and I really enjoy the first half hour of each day.
Today I was greeted with 21 girls as my new form. 4 of them were from my previous form groups, 17 were completely new to me. These girls have been highlighted as having similar abilities/strengths/weaknesses etc, and like the rest of year 11, have been this week separated from their tutor groups they have been with for nearly 5 years. Apparently the idea is for these groups to develop similar goals, to make intervention easier, to get them out of their comfort zone. Now, I am someone who doesn't really get out of comfort zones as I am relatively laid back, and make a joke of everything. This has been my way all my life. Now I am acutely aware this is not the case for everyone, especially 15/16 year olds. They have arguably their biggest 3 months of their lives ahead of them, and it will be intense. Coursework being completed, lesson content getting more indepth as they cover the last bits of each course. Revision sessions will start, exam practise. This will happen in every lesson of the day. 5 days a week. And needless to say, a good majority will step up the work at home too, revising for their final GCSE exams.
So I am struggling to see the logic in taking away the more informal time of the day, which of course can be used to do intervention and revision, which has happened all year. Indeed I have been observed by the head teacher and deputy head teacher, both grading me outstanding for the intervention work I was doing during the form period. So if Outstanding intervention can happen, then why did it have to change? I know that members of my original form are disappointed to be split up from friends (they have been told being with their friends too much during exam period can lead them to falling out, so being split from your friends is a good thing), and also to change tutors too. Today was spent introducing ourselves and learning names. Surely this is wasting potential intervention time? The group of girls I was with today were lovely, and they are deemed a high ability group of girls. They will no doubt do lots of revision during form period, much like they would have done in their original form groups anyway.
Having come from a background where I would introduce an idea, saying what it is and why I want to research it, make some predictions on current literature, describe a method for testing something out, analysing results from which I draw conclusions, here at school there is a concerning trend of 'ideas' being enforced. There is no feedback stating why we are doing it, what the idea is based upon, any scope for testing it out and analysing if it is actually worth carrying out. If it falls flat on its face, then there are a number of year 11s whose futures are being messed with. I am sure it'll work fine with the high ability groups, as they'll achieve regardless. But low ability groups have been established, and the kids will know what is thought of them and I can only see it as a demotivating thing. 'Oh look, I'm considered stupid'. The underachieving category is amazing, where students have been placed based on the number of subjects in which their predicted grade is below their target grade. So someone who is getting A's and A*s across the board, but perhaps 3 of his A's were predicted A*s, is now in a form with someone who is predicted D's but getting E's. And such a student with A's and A*s is not considered a high achiever either. Perhaps immersing them with other high achievers might stimulate them enough to push for the extra grades.
CVA, results tables, Ofsted. They influence a school's decisions too much.
I hope I will be able to say come June, like a man in orthopaedic shoes. 'I stand corrected'
Have a good week everyone!! Steve :-)
March 27, 2011
Had a pretty crazy week. Very busy, two full days in there somewhere, two observations, a glorious week of weather which seems to equal students becoming nut-cases..... then my year 11 form groups have been split up into ability groups for the remainder of the year (ridiculous in my opinion, but I'll be glad if proven wrong)....
Well if I reflect on the start of the week. Decent enough Monday. Observed some year 13 stuff, and had a pretty neat lesson with my year 10s. I am having to become pretty innovative to cram in so much content into such a short time. I will have to give them A LOT of homework over Easter. Had 4 lessons Tuesday, and I was pretty pleased with them too. My BTec class again were impeccable, and I feel this is one of my biggest achievements to date in terms of building a relationship with a class. the class is littered with apparent 'trouble', but they are truly splendid. I will miss them next year! Then Wednesday came. My 1st lesson was potentially awesome, but the class arrived late, the projector failed, and my demonstrations didn't work so well.... awesome! I was observing my year 7 class who are still being taught by another teacher during this time, and it was pretty shocking. Not the teaching, but the behaviour of some. My year 8 class was possibly the worst lesson I've experienced so far all year, with one student being particularly vulgar towards another and to be honest it just made me pretty sad about the whole thing. My lunch was spent sorting that out, contacting the relevant people etc. No rest for the wicked however, with two further lessons to go.
My period 5 lesson, I tried something different and it worked a dream. Just started a topic on electricity generation. I made a poster, stuck three copies of it outside the classroom. Got them into groups of 3, and I randomly called 1, 2 or 3, and that person would go outside, look at the poster and transfer as much info onto an A3 sheet as they could, with the idea they replicate the poster I had made. The class got very competitive (drawings on hand, photos on phones....) but it was done in really good spirit and they did some exceptional work. It cheered me up :-)
Thursday was another 5 lesson day. Year 9 again and some consolidation of the poster work. Year 12 followed by year 13 (first time I had taught that class and it went really well), a lesson with my 3rd year 10 class talking about my life story pretty much given my familiarisation with ultrasound, x-rays and gamma rays, followed by my BTec class again. Tiring, but really happy day. Was observed that day with the year 9's, and feedback was pretty good. Need to work on the relevance of my plenaries. Friday was a quieter day, just two lessons with my year 12 monkeys and my year 10 double set, and overall pretty good. Was observed by senior leadership teaching the year 12 class (my first post 16 observation - something I needed to sort out too (tick)) and feedback was positive. Good old potential dividers.
Then Friday night, went to the school production of Treasure Island. 6 of my form were in it, and I was very proud, and topped off a good end to the week after a wobbly middle!
So the weekend.... loads of lessons to prepare for.... Folders to get ready for my Q1-9 assessment this week, a Masters to write, more lessons to prep for.... 2 subject knowledge enhancements courses to attend this week too. When time is short, the one thing you don't need is the clocks going forw... What do you mean they are going forward by an hour in 25 minutes time? That really sucks!
Big hand to the England cricket team who produced their most comprehensive peformance of the world cup today. I also want to give a big hand to Fabio Capello for choosing the right captain, and hopefully he notices that England are a much better team without Barry and Gerrard in there. Better balance, better footballers.
Come on the Chels!
March 21, 2011
It turns out I am the final male science GTP, which is a real shame. If any of you guys who have recently dropped off the course read this, I want to wish you all the best.
I am still having a quality time, though the responsibility and pressure is cranking up as we head towards exam time. This morning I noticed a real change in attitude from my year 11 form group. They were revising, asking questions etc, and I am now running an impromptu revision session tomorrow break and lunch for them on some Physics-related problems.
I have also been given the task of teaching a Physics module in about 20 lessons in total. I have previously taught the module in 28 lessons to a year 9 class, so I am having to be creative with the lesson planning. It is quite a challenge, but my EM Spectrum work is going from 7 pretty funky lessons which mainly involve me acting like a plank, into one quick-fire information heavy session.
I have also been informed I will be observed by a few head of science candidates this week, and then be given feedback from each of them. Not sure how many there will be, but I think it will be a wonderful training experience from me to get so many lesson observations in one go! It is also nice I might have a little influence on who may get said job, but I won't be there next year anyway....
Have planned a shed load of lessons tonight, powerpoints completed, onwards with the Masters!
Keep going everyone, 3 months left!
March 17, 2011
Yo yo yo!
Had a really interesting couple of days. I've sat in the staff room, hearing a continuous cry of dismay from a number of staff, saying the students are out of control, misbehaving etc etc. This week, each lesson I have taught, the behaviour of everyone has been impeccable. The 'troubling' BTEC class have been simply awesome; engaged, on task, completing assignments. It has even changed my opinion of the BTEC qualification.
Since my return from complimentary, I have taken on more AS and A-Level teaching, and I am loving it. The Physics is a tad more interesting, and is certainly more to what I have been used to over the last 9 years. Along with the classes, I am heavily involved now in intervention sessions, and 18 turned up for one class this week. They AS groups have matured considerably since getting their first exam results last week; I guess they now know they are into their A-Levels and have got to start knuckling down.
Despite the highs, there have been a couple of more sombre moments too. Had a couple of incidents of disclosure from students, and to be honest, the circumstances are heart-breaking. Also, had my first serious lunch time issue too yesterday, but I handled it pretty well I reckon. Can't say too much about it, but again, it was not nice to see.
Chelsea cruising along to their Premier League / Champions League double. And I Love That!
Oh, and my best mate's band Ivyrise were on Radio 1 last week. Make sure you check them out when you get chance too!
March 14, 2011
Oh, and I want to say I miss Friday university sessions.
My Masters progress is aptly summed up by;
'Luciano Pavarotti on a treadmill - not going nowhere, slim chance we will'.
The lyrical genius of the Bloodhound Gang there, I'm guessing 1999 or so from an album with a title I probably can't type on such a blog. Blimey, I feel old saying that - 1999! I remember queueing up and buying that CD.
Folders, schmolders. I'm pretty sure I'm off to jail, there is so much incriminating evidence stacked up against me.
I'm having to start planning to lesson plan.
What I need is a 12 day week, with 9 of those days = weekend. If that could be arranged, that'd be good.
So, asides from the work load, I am loving this GTP. And I also love North Warks GC, who have granted me a student membership this year, otherwise the paltry wage I am on would have meant bye bye to golf for a year. We are working below the minimum wage. It is mental!! :-)
With regard to teaching, I am more aware of how to show progress in a lesson, what assessment for learning is, and I am developing a much stricter stance in class on low level disruption.
And Chelsea are well on the way to winning the title. LOVE THAT!
One point of reflection for tonight.....
Never rely on technology during a formal observation. It will only bite you on the bum.
That is all.
PS: Taught 4 lessons today, 1 turned out to be a repeat of what the classes other teacher had taught last week (apparently mine was better as we fried eggs and microwaved potatoes). Observation went ok, but it could have been awesome. Bill Gates will be contacted in due course. And I am really loving teaching A-Level: introduced my AS class to Eddie the Electron today, and his Uncle Erik. Kirchhoff's 2nd law has never been so humerous....
March 07, 2011
Beautiful morning, a journey to school with Blink 182 screaming out of my stereo, a nice little Monday in prospect. Couple of year 13 sessions and I return to teach a year 10 class I last taught before Chrimbo. It is Physics so I am happy with that.
Not a lot going on to be contentious about on my blog. My timetable is nearly (finally) finalised, and I've managed to keep all my classes and just awaiting confirmation of my new ones. Staffing changes have been a real issue this year at school, but it has encouraged us GTPs here (that's me and Shuna) to be adaptable and roll with the punches.
Guess like most, the looming Masters deadline is starting to become more apparent. I know exactly what I need to do which I guess is the main thing. Peer Assessment: Not to Shabby (PANTS) will be a good read if nothing else, and its style may be a little left field. I hope it will be appreciated and not destroyed when marked. I am not very good at sticking to guidelines, and like to 'take risks', which is apparently the mark of an outstanding trainee....
Have received some exceptional support from my mentor in the last week. She has been awesome.
That is all I would like to reflect upon.
Many thanks, Dr Steve
March 01, 2011
The terror has been obviously apparent throughout half term. The dread of yet more dismal failure, the accumulation of another poor grade, the judging, the fall out, the crisis in confidence.
Yep, the first week back after half term was ear marked as 'senior leadership learning walk week for year 11 tutors'...... I am an associate form tutor to two lovely groups, though I am first to admit there are some tricky customers in both. I do really enjoy form time; they are always entertaining and a bright way to start the day. there is one group in particular who do push their luck with the form tutor, and unfortunately this was picked up on during the last learning walk, where the gradings given were less than complimentary. With my other group, the gradings were so-so; goods and satisfactories.
Well I've just read the head teacher's bulletin, who describes his learning walk yesterday as a privilege and used words consecutively such as 'tutors were outstanding', 'excellent relationships' and 'positive ethos'.
One quick press of 'print' and I have introduced said bits of paper to Mr Q1 and Q2. I hope they become well acquainted.
A-Level teaching today. Boom!