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August 26, 2011

TIP NUMBER 1 – Push to be a form tutor

Howdy

So I will quickly compile my recommendations for how to maximise your GTP experience.

Without a doubt, being a form tutor / associate form tutor is an amazing thing to do. It really helped me to settle in to a routine each day, get to know a class, and gives you ample opportunity to meet a shed load of the standards. Intervention, dealing with personalised issues, finding solutions, PSHE, working with other staff members etc. You get to grips with school policy much quicker. And even more importantly, if you fall on your feet like I did with the 55 tutees I had over two groups, you quickly gain some allies in the school who will back you up and spread the gospel of how cool you are. At least that's what I think they did. Getting to know a bunch of students well as a tutor is awesome, and though the contrast from going from year 11 associate tutor during my GTP to a year 7 tutor at my new school is large, I feel prepared and excited. Things go well at my new school, I could see this year 7 form grow up throughout their secondary school career, and I could potentially be their one constant throughout their school life. Massive responsibility. I am thankful for my complimentary placement, where I was actually assigned to a year 7 form group, so I have a few weeks experience of how it should roll. I find out more about it next Thursday.

There is one draw back, I adore the tutees I had, and will now miss them. I am a bit sad not to have the chance to teach those staying to do A-Level Physics. Still it was great to see them today as they collected their GCSE results. Oh wait, I didn't.

So last week I missed seeing the year 12s and 13s get their results (mainly wanted to go to convince the year 12s to stick with Physics into A-Level) due to an unscheduled visit to a local hospital. But today, nothing was in my way. Except Kwik Fit. Currently, we're a one-car family, and its MOT was Wednesday. It failed, like me inmy French GCSE. After a number of repairs, it wasn't quite done last night. 'It'll be completed first thing in the morning.' Now this garage was 3 miles away, and was effectively a 50 minute walk away. Opening at 8.30am, I set off from my house at 8am, so I could collect it at 9am. I arrived, Icould see the car, still raised on a ramp. Waiting in reception, I settled down and played poker on my phone. After 30 mins, someone finally entered reception, 'how long will the Corsa be?' '2 hours'. '*&&(( %^%$££* )*^^*( )(*?>:L' was my reply.

So a cab and a bus got me to Brum International station, missing the direct train to Leam by 1 minute. Students collecting their results from 10-12, it was already 10.15..... I thought a train to Cov and a quick change to Leam there. So I did it. Got to Coventry station at 10:26. The hourly train to Leamington was at 25 past the hour it transpired. I was gutted. 59 minutes later I jumped on a train (next bus was 10 minutes and a 44 minute journey, and taxis quoted me £28-35), and finally got to Myton for 11.59am. All students been and gone.

In summary, I felt pretty pants after that. But, I am glad I felt pants, as my anguish was only cus I wanted to see how the wonderful 11M and Y had done, along with GCSE groups I taught. And they had done brilliantly too. I have no way of contacting them to say awesome job boys and girls, hopefully they sensed my vibe!!

My hard working girls did awesomely, Myton published their top 10 sets of results on a press release. 5 were in my form, including two of the three straight A*s. So proud! I saw how hard they worked for their grades, staying after school every night for some revision or enrichment session, and both of them were logged onto my Physics Q&A forum group the night before their exam way past midnight. Rachel and Melissa, big hand.

Thoroughly deserved, and I am stoked about it. Also by Physics results generally. Beat Chemistry and Biology, and had more A*s than any other subject, along with 100% C and above. I put a lot of effort in with revision sessions over Easter and half term in May, along with after school classes. I am sure that contributed to the success in some way.

But yeah, GTP'ers of 2011/12, ask to get involved with a form group if you are not already. That is tip number 1!!


March 28, 2011

Form–ula for success? Nah mate

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

Angle of Reflection

Howdy

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!


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