All entries for Saturday 15 October 2011

October 15, 2011

crazy week

Blimey! I am pooped!

It's been a pretty full-on week. I've been playing alot of netball this week but that's not why I'm tired. It's nice to have the netball to let off steam and just run around like an idiot for a couple of hours (that's valuable therapy for me). I'm pooped because this week I've had a crash course in real-life teaching. Due to illness my mentor has been off for a few days at the start of this week and the end of last week. A cover supervisor was available to cover all her lessons but suggested to me that I lead the lessons, as she wasn't trained in science. Eager to please I jumped at the chance and ending up teaching a full day of five lessons; four of the classes I knew and one I did not. I thought it would be a good chance to test to my classroom management, particularly with the new class.

I struggled.

But i survived.

Needless to say there are areas that need improvement. We had a particularly good, and very interesting, lecture on classroom management the day after. Did you know that the area of the brain responsible for matching actions with consequences doesn't even start to develop until approximately eight years old and in most people will finish development at about 21 years of age? However, the area of the brain responsible for the flight or fight response develops, and reaches maturity, much earlier. So when pupils are around year 9 age (13-14 years) and all the teenage hormones are starting to kick in, they are mostly unable to link an action with a consequence, and hence get into trouble for it. E.g. a boy punches another boy and then wonders why he's got a detention and probably tries to blame the other boy. It is our responsibility as teachers to develop this link between actions and consequences and strengthen it as much as possible. When we discipline the pupils we must always give a verbal warning which will clearly state what will happen if the pupil doesn't change his or her behave and then offer the student a choice as to which behaviour to display. If the warning is not heeded then the teacher must give out the appropriate disclipline with a definite reminder that the pupil was responsible for his or her own actions and must now face the consequences for said actions. All the while the teacher must be non-confrontational and to the point, this is known as "assertive discpline". My problem is that I am too woolly when it comes to giving directions, warnings and then handing out punishments. For example, in one lesson this week the whole class were muttering and fiddling and shuffling and generally being disruptive but this one boy at the front was consistently turning round and talking over me and the other pupils so I gave him a verbal warning. This verbal warning was clear but I then warned him another few times before eventually recording his behaviour in his planner. He, quite rightly, pointed out that the rest of the class was talking also and was as difficult as possible for the whole lesson; so much so that in the end I had to remove him from the group work entirely as he was distracting the other pupils in a determined effort to get them disciplined also. This whole lesson could have been managed in a much better way. Firstly I should have stood at the front of the class and almost created a funnel between me and the door so that as the children came into the classroom they could only come in one at a time and they would have to respect my space and I could stop any uniform offenders. This would have immediately marked the classroom as mine and the fact that they were coming into my space where I was the one in charge. Secondly, I need to not be happy with second best. I need to clearly state my expectations and not rest until I get them. This particular class are a lively bunch of very nice kids but they're very loud and not particularly polite when it comes to general social skills. I needed to clearly state that I expected absolute silence suring the register and that they should be writing the words into the bingo sheets. They needn't call out but put their hand up and wait for me to finish the register if they had any problems with the task they had been set. Any children talking during the register, no matter how quiet, needed to be warned and this warning followed up if their talking continued, even if this means handing out multiple red marks. Once they understand that I mean business it will get alot easier and I will be able to be more lenient but this bunch of scoundrels need very firm boundaries to lean on. I've also realised that I need to be more organised with my papers. I aim to free a space on the desk at the front of the class for my resources, lesson plan, register, seating plan and a sheet to keep a record of red marks and learning points so that I can a) keep track of the repeat offenders and little superstars and have a quiet word at the start of the next lesson and b) remember to actually hand out the red marks and learning points before the kids leave the classroom, which I've forgotten to do on numerous occassions! I need to take more control of the class as they leave the room also, and not just let them be dictated by the bell. I can use this as another reward system by letting the hard working and quiet pupils go first. So, watch out kids, Miss Roberts is getting tough next week! I also learnt from that one lesson of year 9s that kids can't be trusted! I had done this lesson a week previously with a bottom set year 9 class. It was a revision session consisting of four, ten minute activities which the groups rotated round. The previous lesson had been sufficient in that the majority of the kids stayed on task and actually worked hard on the activities. I had been free to roam around the classroom and extend some of the more able kids. However, my time-keeping was appalling and some of the activities were too short so that kids werenot kept occupied for the whole 10 minutes. Or rather, they were kept perfectly occupied using rulers as light sabers. The second time I did this lesson I changed one of the activities and had a countdown timer on the board. Foolproof. But actually the activitity I changed was now too hard and required me to devote all my time to the group struggling with this activity. I also put the answers to each activity in envelopes next to the activity, so the pesky kids just opened the envelope and copied the answers! Also, who knew that the countdown timer didn't just work on thought alone, I actually had to press the button! Crazy! So yes, all in all, I learnt alot from that lesson. I think that particular class needed a much more structured revision lesson. My plan would be more suited to a higher ability group.

On a final note, if a cover supervisor thinks it would be a great idea for you to take on all your mentors lessons for that day, politely decline even just one lesson so you can get that goddamn assignment done that's in for that Friday!!!


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