October 02, 2011

Counting coins on the counter of the seven 11 from a quater past six to a quarter to seven….

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RC0DdrHbGg

Well it's the final week of the month and, like many around the land, I am starting to feel a bit like Jermain and Bret....Friday and payday can't come soon enough! So while I say in, hunt for coins down the side of the couch and write this blog amongst other things ... let’s 'reflect' on what on the whole seemed quite a disjointed week.

Monday had returned to us with its customary yell from the alarm clock and I was finally back at school getting to do some teaching! A welcome break from the weekend where Mr McLeish and his eleven muppets...I mean puppets seem determined to ruin any visit to different city by not turning up for 45 minutes, getting a lead and then shooting themselves in the foot by scoring own goals ... sorry about that rant over. So Monday and teaching....

It was great to be back in the classroom after the few days away at uni the previous week. Today I had year 9 and year 7s with a year 11 class thrown into the mixer. With the year 9 class I got to try out one of the new tactics for controlling the behaviour issues I ran into last week...and it sort of worked a bit. The kids actually got some work done and we managed to complete most of the lesson. At points it was a struggle though and one thing I have learnt from the lesson is that I need to control my frustration. But I look forward to next week and seeing what will happen as I plan to do a practical with them...

Year 7 lessons are always fun and the big overall theme from the two lessons today was that I need to improve on my AfL! I found myself being rather pleased with myself that we had managed to cover everything I had planned and a number had done that much work they had moved onto my extension work sheets....then it dawned on me that I had no idea how the kids felt about the lesson and if they understood everything that had been covered.

Something that is rather important in this teaching lark!

It's again one of those things that are so fundamental and easy to forget...allowing enough time at the end of the lesson for a quick recap. I had tried to do a thumbs up/thumbs down true or false quiz with my second year 7 class however this was a bit of rushed addition to the lesson after AfL being noted in a previous observation - the problem with thumbs up and down being that every pupil can see each other and 'go with the flow'! Next week I am planning more appropriate plenary to try and cover this issue.

From all of the lessons so far I have found that being an expert in juggling should be high on the list of standards and at the bare minimum be put on to the qualifications needed to get on the GTP course. You finally get used to something and think you're getting the hang of it when another ball is thrown in and throws you off your timing! This is a skill I am having to learn very quickly and can only improve with experience.

And that was it for teaching this week...one whole day!

On the Wednesday I was out of school and off to a special school. This was a fascinating and very enjoyable visit. It was great to see how the children with severe SEN are provided for and how the whole school and the lesson plans are geared to dealing with not only mental/physical needs to learn, but also the emotional and behavioural support offered to the children and young adults from primary level to sixth form. This experience has opened my eyes and made me realise how little I knew before. I now know what focuses I need to write on that sheet for the complementary placement and more than that I feel this is an area I really want to be involved in and I am going to become active through work and volunteering.

Thursday was spent at Uni during the day but by night I was finger deep in food colouring, PVA glue and Borax. It was open evening and I was in the Science club room making SLIME!! I can some this night up in three words...Fun but exhausting. Getting to meet the year 6 kids from all over the area was great and the look on their faces when they got to make and play with the slime was awesome. It was a chance to meet parents for the first time as well so this was a real learning curve and great to see just how involved the parents want to be in their kid’s education.

Of course the parents had loads of questions....now being a GTP student with the mammoth number of 11hours real teaching experience I was in no position to start answering most of them...so I had to pick and chose my answers and figure out where the other members of staff were (luckily we had two in the room!) as to make sure the school had a year 7 cohort next year!

So that was the adventure away from uni this week. At uni the subject sessions rolled on. Some of the points that are brought up are interesting and some are very useful. I do feel however that we GTPers are forgotten some what as everything is so focused on introducing concepts to the PGCE crowd. I can't speak for everybody but I do feel that being in school gives us a working knowledge of the key concepts being put across in the sessions and we could do with something more appropriate. At the moment I feel I can learn more in an hour at school than in a day at uni.

Having said that though it was nice to be given a whole morning to plan a 15 minutes teaching when it’s normally 15minutes to plan a whole mornings teaching!!!!!

So there we go until next week and to quote Craig Charles from Tekeshi's castle that is playing in the background....

As my old man used to say the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.....Sayonara!


September 22, 2011

I just want to tell you how I'm feeling….

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ&feature=related

I am making no apologies for the song choice this week. While contemplating this weeks blog, thinking about what to write my mind wondered; and a line from Mr Astley's 1987 masterful recording 'Never Going to Give You Up' entered the old grey matter. So 'I just want to tell you how I'm feeling'.....

I think this week has been a real learning curve, well more of a sheer cliff face that can only be climbed with help and a lot of rope.

I'll begin on a Sunday where I believe I made one of the best purchases ever. On a trip back to the parents for a very nice Sunday roast I made a brief pit stop at PC World where a wireless presenter caught my eye. These things are amazing....not only because they shine a funky red light out one end, but because of the freedom they can give you in a classroom. One of the fears I brought with me into teaching is that I would be constantly running away from the kids to press buttons on the computer or would be routed to the spot at the front. This nifty piece of kit lets you get in amongst the action, work on 1:1 teaching, start talking from the side of the classroom to keep the little (and sometimes bigger) pupils on guard as they don't know where you will pop up next. They also have the added advantage being a good incentive to answer questions as the kids get to shine the laser at the board! If you don't have one...go get one!!

Anyway, enough about gadgets and gizmos.

So the working week started with a rather raucous bunch of Year 9's. I knew this class was going to be a tad interesting as I had them during a brief stint of impersonating a maths teacher. I had my plan, highlighted and annotated with key questions to ask during the activities I was sure would settle them down. The hard work was done organising a fool proof seating plan right....wrong! The work I am afraid to say had to take, not a back seat, but a side seat in our car on this particular journey. I had to constantly refer back to expectations and although not the best lesson, I feel towards the end they were starting to see me as their teacher and not the cover teacher that took them for a few lessons last year. I have been speaking to a few people and have picked up some good ideas for new strategies to deal with this class. It is a real shame I only have them for one hour in the week, but instead of fearing seeing them this Monday, I am looking forward it. Its my opportunity to test these tips and advice and find out what works for me and ultimately, make chemistry for the guys and gals sat in front of me, an interesting and fun lesson they want to contribute to and gain allot from as they enter the important GCSE years.

On some fantastic advice I got myself an exercise book for informal observations and notes that the teacher buddied up with me can make during my lessons. This book is now becoming a sort of bible! It’s good to see the things that you are doing well but the highlight for me is seeing where I can improve next time to make my lesson/activity better. One example being in my first year 7 lesson; my starter involved naming pictures and their uses. As I was going through the answers it was difficult to work out which picture they were talking about. This was noted down and spoken about after during little chat about the lesson. A quick update that evening for my other year 7 set and the pictures were assigned a letter. This made reviewing the starter allot easier for me and the kids. It sounds so simple but it’s these little things that are so easy to over look and they can complicate life!

One of the biggest things I have found quite difficult this week has been you need to go through things at such a basic level for some classes. I have found myself assuming too much of pupils knowledge and was something that I really need to work on. This was particularly evident in my first two days so Tuesday night was spent focusing on how to improve this. I thought I had it cracked and had put into my planning demonstrations of the practical’s before the children perform it themselves and making use of as many visual aids as possible. Then I got flustered. The wrong practical was waiting for me in the classroom and somebody else had locked the computer...it was 11.25 and the bright, smiling, expectant faces were waiting to come in. This threw me off balance and made me realise I need the safety of my plan. This was my first lesson in thinking on my feet and becoming flexible. When the right equipment arrived there wasn’t enough acid. More flustering and panic on the inside somehow became a practical where every child managed to get some results and make observations of a few reactions. This is where the observation bible came in handy. After the lesson a 10minutes reading the comments over a coffee helped settled the emotions and turn a horrible feeling into one of 'ok it didn't go to plan but I did this well and I can be proud of that'.

In-between these small periods of panic have been some funny and great moments. Getting year 8 interested in predator and prey cycles and enjoying drawing graphs. Working on the reflex ark with my other year 9 class gave me the chance to scare the life out of them....everybody in the room including my buddy teacher must have jumped 4 feet in the air when a surprise shout bellowed from my mouth...even had another member off staff walking past the room jump and check up on my lesson to see if everything was ok! A great starter to get everyone excited and talking about the topic.

My final lesson of the week with year 10 I really enjoyed. The topic was cracking hydrocarbons and managed to get some creative writing involved. I think the kids learnt something and enjoyed the lesson however I could be guessing - that is why I am stealing a Warwick idea and setting up lollipop sticks in smiling or unhappy cups for my lessons just to get a general over view of how they feel the lessons went and help me plan the next.

So that was my school week went and its roll on subject studies for a change of pace to the week. Today was interesting and I am quite enjoying the sessions. One of the best things about getting back to the uni is the catch up with everybody and comparing stories and swapping ideas...it's good to know your not alone and allot of things are happening to all of us!

So I hope that gave you a glimpse of just 'how I'm feeling'.


September 15, 2011

Lets get ready to rhumble

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_sJmIQrH54


In the immortal words of PJ & Duncan (now known as the twins Ant or Dec) 'Let's get ready to rhumble'!

I don't plan to title/start every blog with early 90's pop classics however some of the summer holiday is still floating around my brain and procrastination is the name of the game. A fun filled half an hour of washing the dishes, checking emails, looking at funny pictures on the internet and searching cheesy songs to some up my mood seems to be the perfect way to start any task.

So the first weeks of becoming a responsible adult....

To be honest I have been looking forward to starting since I received my acceptance letter and found the holidays beginning to drag after about week 4. I had done all the reading, put words into some sort of legible form to produce an essay and been through the audits and began to fill in a few gaps in old subject knowledge. Then the alarm went off at 6am on Monday morning and I wished we still had one more week of holidays left.

The first two days were a crash course in teacher speak and sitting in meetings where people, instead of using words, just seemed to putting together incoherent letters that apparently stood for something. After downloading the meeting power points and sifting through the acronyms, I started to get the hang of it and everything that was being spoken about began to make a sense and the confusion disappeared. All was well and the countdown was on to invite the kids back with beaming smiles on the Wednesday.

The first 'proper' day back was fantastic, I spent the whole morning with my new form hearing about their adventures while trying to sort of school liaison journals and getting them to tuck shirts in and get used to wearing a tie properly and begin learning names. We played a few games to break the ice and its amazing how your mind can go blank when trying to think of something to draw in Pictionary when 60 eyes are staring at you. After normal timetable resumed and the observations and meeting my classes began. It was a great feeling to be associated with a particular class and knowing that you’re going to be with them through out the year, much better than the glimpses of kids you see during cover supervisor duties.

As each class came in the expectations were dished out and introductions were made, I can say I learnt allot just watching how the other members of staff organised everything in such a short space of time. When the lessons had finished the calls of 'Mark have you got 2 minutes' echoed through the corridors. After being invited into classrooms, schemes of work were piled high. 'Oh is this for the year??'. 'No this is till half term' - THE WORK HAD BEGUN.

A 'quiet' weekend spent travelling to Liverpool to watch the mighty Villa rob Everton of three points was rudely interrupted by lesson planning on the Sunday. It's best to be organised in this education game (and never play Heskey on the wing in the other game) so I had all my first weeks teaching on paper done and dusted, just in time to look forward to meeting the many new faces at Warwick.

The past week at Warwick has been exciting. Meeting everybody, almost falling into a bush (even though I was inside), the tracking down of IT people to explain my name does not contain a ©, & or an even more ridiculous symbol (that doesn’t even appear on the symbol option on this thing!) has all been part of this new adventure in my life.

I know this year is going to be tough physically, emotionally and mentally but after my experiences in the first 2 weeks, knowing who is about, that other people are going through the same things; I think and feel this is going to be a great year. I can not wait to get to know everyone at Warwick, both staff and fellow GTP/PGCE'ers, better but also getting to know myself better and fingers crossed...make it out the other side with lifelong friends and be entering one of the best jobs in the world.


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