October 08, 2011

Observation Week – Thursday

This morning was spent shadowing a student. I know that some of us were a little apprehensive about it, thinking that it might be a little awkward to follow a student around all day while they were working or talking to their friends. Luckily we were given absolutely lovely students, which helped a lot! They were chosen from across the school, and my tour guide for the day was from year 10. I took the approach of treating the shadowing as an opportunity to see how the timetable worked and look in different departments. The latter didn't work out quite as well as I'd hoped; it turned out she had double history. I was interested to be seeing a science lesson, but it ended up being about the discovery of penecillin (more Medicine Through Time than I was hoping). But I also got to see English, which I really enjoyed. To be honest I'd really love to have a go at teaching it! I sat there reading through their GCSE poetry anthology while they worked on their presentations on Duffy's "Valentine" and realised just how much I miss my A-Level Literature days. I rarely have the brainpower or the time to sit and read these days, and I used to love it. Who knows, though? I've applied to be a tutor for a Looked-After Child and put English down as a possible subject, so it may not be the last I hear of Shakespeare!

As I went through the lessons, the same pupils kept cropping up. And it may not have been a fair representation of the year, but my god, what a year! Some of the teachers really struggled to keep them quiet and get them engaged, and excellent teachers at that. It certainly got me thinking. And being grateful for the time to sit back and see how they coped with it! I noticed that the older the pupils, the more prevalent the tactical ignoring technique was for managing behaviour. And sometimes it worked. Note to self: what never worked was shouting.

I had a lot of time today to sit back and watch and think. Taking extensive notes and working my way through the observation book, it really hit me exactly how much you have to think about when you're taking a lesson, from how you ask questions to the order you ask them in, from how you use your voice to how you check that the students are up to speed. We were told in one of our early lectures that teaching is a bit like learning to drive. At that, my ears metaphorically pricked up. I'd spent most of the summer learning and had passed my test about a week previously.

Just like with driving, there is a lot to think about. When you start teaching it will feel overwhelming, and you will forget things. Concentrate on learning to walk before you can run (i.e. learn changing gear before you try dual carriageways). The basics will become natural, and then you can work on everything else. I'll let you know...


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  1. Polly

    Love this post! Also love that you still have a passion for Shakespeare and English in general, after an English degree this does threaten to slip.. Still there most of the time though, the love is returning! Teaching like driving…I can see that. I think I’ll personally stick to driving though! Good luck with the rest of placement! :)

    27 Oct 2011, 19:10


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