All 16 entries tagged Teaching

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March 27, 2006

Cross Sexual Area

Due to a slight speech impediment I have a rather inconvenient inability to pronounce the words 'cross-sectional' without saying 'cross-sexshunal'. As a future teacher of mathematics I can see I slight problem forming here.

During a rather fraught year 8 lesson (more to follow) I found myself stood at the board trying my best to get the pronunciation right, but the more I thought about it the worse it became – like some kind of nightmarish self-fulfilling prophecy.

Curiously the speech-therapy I had a child never picked up on this and was more focused on my lack of aptitude with the word Skwoo-el (Squirrel) or my tendency to say dis and dat. How frustrating.

March 11, 2006

Taking over

'Teaching is more than just a job – it's a way of life.'

I scoffed when I first heard these words, but after completing six months of a PGCE I think my cynicism may have been premature. I now finding myself wanting to shush people talking too loudly in pubs, asking my friends if they have any questions when we arrange to meet up, and last night at a gig I was sorely tempted to tell the bassist of the support act to spit out the gum he was chewing. If only there'd been a bin handy.

There's no escaping it, I'm becoming a teacher. All that's left is to start moaning about marking and calling children 'oiks'.

March 06, 2006

The story so far…

After graduating from Warwick last summer I started out on a foray into the world of teaching. Boldly going where so many have gone before (but not so many that they don't pay you £7000 just to train), meeting friends and oiks, driving away from school bashing my head against the steering wheel after hearing the words 'I don't get it sir' for the hundredth time inside five minutes.

My first placement was filled with adventure: students turning up drunk, telling me to 'Just Leave!', alliterating my surname with another word with which it shares five letters (not walked), blowing kisses at me, pretending to have Tourette's Syndrome, feigning punches and generally being little sxxxts.

Now, however I find myself at a successful Catholic School. After not having been to church since longer than, oh being at school, prayers have become part of the routine, the mundane, not something crazy people do on Sundays. And even though they're that bit politer the kids are still kids.

And so the adventures continue.

July 02, 2005


Follow-up to Friday from Bloggle

Iíve just finished my last week in school. Unfortunately I went W.I.A (Without Internet Access) this week so was unable to blog daily reports. But here are the highlights:

Monday & Tuesday

I taught my last two lessons on these days, the lesson on Tuesday being formally observed by my mentor. This week I had a new partner in school who was a bit of a personality clash, seeing as I have one and she doesnít! Haha. She didnít endear herself to me from the off by shouting at the class I was trying to teach only a couple of hours after having met:

  1. This undermined me.
  2. Was unnecessary as the class werenít causing trouble.
  3. How dare anyone be mean to my lovely year 7s?
  4. Fuck Off!

The lessons I taught actually went quite well, not perfect but in the words of my mentor it was satisfactory. Though seeing as lessons are rated as satisfactory, good or better, itís a little worrying. I mean, I effectively scored the lowest mark possible. If Iíd started throwing chairs and tables around (my best friend nearly had his head taken off in such a scenario where a teacher kind of lost it) would that have still been satisfactory?

Being observed was a little like taking my driving test again, the teacher kept making little notes, just like an examiner marks down minors. I have to say keeping control of a car is much easier than a class of pupils. As a rule cars donít jump out of their seats and go for walks to the other side of the room or say ďI donít get itĒ. Well built ones donít anyway.

The best bit I managed with the lesson was the entry to the room. I made them wait outside (This included a conversation with pupils who had eaten pizza and curry for breakfast. As in two individual pupils, one eating pizza the other curry. Not one pupil eating pizza and curry together, thatíd just be weird) until there were enough of them there to make it worth letting them in. The idea is that you donít get dribs and drabs so the start goes smoother. So I can make the first minute go okay after two weeks teaching experience, give me another 98 and Iíll sort out the other forty-nine!


There was a ďYear 7 Maths Challenge DayĒ which I thoroughly enjoyed it because the pupils were relaxed because of being out of lessons and as a rule of thumb pupils in a good mood are pleasanter than grumpy bored ones. Not that my school partner agreed:

Her: ďI donít like that sort of thing.Ē
Me: ďWhat? Fun?Ē
Her: ďWell no, I mean I prefer discipline and respect.Ē

This sparked a whole row about teaching methods, she said she didnít think (actually she didnít use the word think, she just stated it as a fact) it was possible to be a good teacher without being a complete fascist. Or words to that effect.

Eventually I just said, ďLetís stop this conversationĒ, because it was about to go nuclear. Her response was ďYou started it!Ē Oh good Lord! Iíd get more maturity out of the year 7s. I tried to take the opportunity to diffuse the situation by turning it into a joke by echoing, ďYou started itĒ back at her. She didnít get it and repeated what she said. I was forgetting she has no sense of humour. Eventually I just gave up, I suppose the ďfunĒ comment might have been slightly inflammatory, but how could I possibly resist?

That nearly spoilt the day but the pupils were being funny enough for it to merely be a minor blip. They had to complete some quick mathematical puzzles and were offering bribes; I got offered Twenty Pounds, a fiver and a dinner card with ten pounds of credit on it. I refused of course, what would I want with ten pounds worth of school dinners?

Thursday & Friday

These were my final two days and there wasnít much going on. Thursday was quiet because Iíd run out lessons to teach and Friday was a ďpayback dayĒ for the staff, which meant an opportunity for them to catch up on some administrative type bits. In short it meant nothing for me to do! I did make a nice wall display of some of the work Iíd done with the year 7s. Though thereís only so much cutting and sticking I can take without getting bored. I also caught up with my own administrative bits, but it was pretty dull.

Iíve enjoyed the chance to go in to school. Itís been a nice situation to be in because Iím halfway between a pupil and a teacher so I kind of got the best of both worlds: being treated like a human being, but not having to be too serious and teacher like. Whether or not I should have been like that Iím not sure. Afterall we were there to get some genuine experience not to just piss about.

Iím pleased with how Iíve got along with the pupils. Iíve definitely managed to come across as a good guy with them. Itís not about popularity but itís nice anyway, and I really do believe that you donít need to shout (at most pupils) if you develop a good relationship with them from the start. Itís very encouraging. Naturally there are some key areas I need to work on, such as being more authoritative, but thereís a limit to how far Iíll go with that. Teachers are famed for being bossy and I donít want to end up like that. If I find I canít teach without changing then I wonít teach. Itís as simple as that.

June 24, 2005


Follow-up to Thursday from Bloggle

Another week over and a second consecutive slightly unhappy day. Ho hum! The trouble today wasn't from the kids it was more general exasperation. I really don't know if I can shout at kids, so may be I'll never be able to manage behaviour properly. It's a bit of a worry, my mentor in school keeps encouraging me to raise my voice more and be more authoritative, I don't know if I can and more than that I'm not sure I want to. But then, if given an aptitude test, who when asked "I like to yell at kids" would tick anything other than "strongly disagree"? I certainly wouldn't want to meet anyone who enjoys yelling at people half their size.

It's frustrating because I'm good at the other stuff. I get on well with the pupils (surely that's a necessity, why would you become a teacher if you don't even like kids?) and I can explain the maths really well. In the lesson my partner in school, Kar, was teaching one of the pupils said to me "Mr Walker. How come you're so much better at explaining things than Miss Low?" Seeing how I didn't want sound offensive about Kar I sort of muttered something about Kar having to try and manage the class whereas I didn't have to worry about that part and sort of trailed off. Inside I was beaming of course, that really made my day. This comment was followed up by a number of pupils asking hopefully if I'd be teaching them at some point. So at least someone thinks I'm doing a good job!

June 23, 2005


Follow-up to Wednesday from Bloggle

The main event today was helping out in an ICT room with some year tens using spreadheets to analyse their coursework with graphs and such gubbins. I did thiss for two lessons, the second class were what I'd come to expect from the kids at George Eliot; polite, friendly and generally pleasant. Unfortunately the first class were absolute horrors!

There was one kid who upon entering the classroom started jumping up and down. Clearly he was very enthusiastic about his coursework or has ADHD. I think he's in the habit of calling everyone cockers so decided that I should be renamed appropriately. His attempts to get my attention from then on consisted of shouting "cockers" across the room. My response was to ignore him until he called me "sir" or "Mr Walker". That might sound kind of arsey but it's no good the pupils thinking they can call me what they like. And you know what? It worked! He cracked and resorted to calling me sir, okay so he followed it up swiftly with "cockers" but I think that was a point to me.

To be fair to the guy he wasn't aggressive or nasty, he just had too much energy and in his own way was probably trying to be friendly. One of the other kids though was the nasty little sneery kind, you know the sort. He just asked rude (and rather stupid) questions to try and embarrass me ("Do you know what a heterosexual is?" "Do you like males or females" etc…). It didn't work. I just answered straightly (haha) as if he were asking what the weather was like. I guess the way to deal with it would be to shout "HOW DARE YOU ASK ME THAT YOU LITTLE SHIT!" (well maybe minus the "little shit" bit) but I'm not quite there yet in terms of volcanic-esque explosions, so managing to not let him get to me was probably a decent enough outcome for the time being.

The next thing I had to deal with was a load of trick questions from the first kid, for instance "how many months have 28 days", the obvious answer being one – February, but all the months have 28 days when you think about it. I managed to get the correct answer, I couldn't tell whether the kid was impressed that I was smart enoguh to figure it out (I knew doing stupid online quizzes would pay off one day!) or disappointed to not have had his pound of flesh.

Some of the other nonsense was the "guess his age game", someone suggested I might be twelve, I just sarcastically replied "Yeah I'm twelve", which in other circumstances would be a quite rude response because sarcasm implies the person asking the question is a bit dumb, but I think it worked as a get out because his mates laughed at him.

I suppose it's inevitable, some teenagers when they see a student teacher get blurred vision and confuse them for easy meat but I survived intact. Admittedly my responses weren't great as teacher responses but as a human being I think I did okay. The best piece of advice I've received since going into school is to not take anything a kid says to you personally. Remembering that today was a massive help otherwise I might have crumbled.

Waiting in reception for my taxi home a pupil started asking me if I were a student teacher (I say "yes" because to explain that I'm just on a scheme to get some experience before starting teacher training would be too complicated). The thing was that he was really polite and friendly but he was saying that he was to be excluded. Often these kids only get in trouble because of problems at home. It made me a little sad, because like I said he was really polite, yet gets the same treatment as the horrors I'd put up with in the morning.

After a rather less than happy day I had a real highlight still in reception. The fax machine sounded very much like the T.A.R.D.I.S. Superb! The Doctor saves the day again.

June 22, 2005


Follow-up to Tuesday from Bloggle

The taxi this morning was another Mercedes. I could get used to that sort of thing. I think I'm an anomoly amongst students because the taxi driver said that he'd been told he could go early to pick me up because I'd be there waiting, rather than the usual ten minutes late scenario. It would never occur to me to be late for anything, I get twitchy if I'm not on time.

The morning was fairly dull, I was planning the lesson I would be teaching in the afternoon and did a huge batch of photocopying, mind numbingly dull but it was nice to do something useful for the school, they should at least get something out of me as compensation for my miseducating of their pupils.

The lesson I taught was frantic. It's so hard trying to get them all to pay attention, I'm still not entirely comfortable with raising my voice though it was necessary in places today. I'm much better at the explanations and generally getting on with the kids. The whole nasty shouting bit seems a mystery to me thus far. Foolishly I made some question sheets for them to do. I say foolishly because now I have to mark them.

June 21, 2005


Follow-up to Monday from Bloggle

I actually taught a class today. Beforehand I had magical visions of everything I planned fitting perfectly into the exact amount of time I'd expected it would and all the kids sitting listening to me with big smiles on their faces desperately waiting to hear the next mathematical gem I would tell them.

Naturally the reality wasn't quite so film-esque but it was fun anyway. It's quite overwheliming asking questions and half a dozen hands shooting up, each attached to a twelve year old who looks like they may explode if they don't shout out the answer within three seconds.

I think I manage to do more or less okay, though I'm still not sure I can imagine myself as an authority figure. The trouble I have at the moment is that I'm too worried about getting along okay with the kids so I'm too easy going. I'm sort of in limbo between being a pupil and a teacher, it's not such a bad place to be I guess but it can't last.

Tomorrow I have to do it all over again. Well not exactly I don't think I shoudl teach the same class the same thing twice, though seeing how there were a great deal of confused looking children leaving the room at the end maybe it's not such a bad idea.

June 20, 2005


Follow-up to Friday from Bloggle

It's come around really quickly to Monday and off to school again. I invigilated yet another exam this morning. I'm getting really bored of them – possibly more so than of my own exams. This time it was a mental maths test, so my function was to press play and stop on a tape player. You need a highly trained operative for that, I don't think just anyone could manage it.

Later in the morning me and my partner in school, Kar, were helping with some Year Seven thing which for some reason I can't remember the name of. It was all about feelings and how to cope with them, not really the terrain of a mathematician. I had no idea how to really do anything, but it was okay. I think I even learned some useful stuff myself! Part of the activities was the pupils making a poster. It was fairly anarchic. One of the interesting things was that the girls took control and bossed the boys around. I suppose some things are the same whatever age you are.

In the afternoon we were doing the same but for some reason the kids got on with the work better. I think the sun had drained their energy, if this is true perhaps schools ought to consider boiling the children into submission before each lesson. Or perhaps not. The bizzarest thing today was someone asking me – in all seriousness – if I was French. I checked me head for a beret but didn't find one so I have no idea where that came from.

I've had a number of exchanges with pupils along the lines of:
"What's your name sir?"
"Mr Walker"
"Do you support Leicester?"
It was cute at first but now it's getting tired and dull. The whole crisps connection is especially boring. I suppose they're only kids so can be forgiven, but isn't it annoying when people say things about someone's name they must have heard hundreds of times as if it were some brilliant insight? Though it is always tempting to be one of those people.

Tomorrow sees me teaching a class for a whole lesson for the first time. It could be crazy but I'm well prepared, I just hope they don't ask any quetions I can't figure out how to explain.

June 17, 2005


Follow-up to Thursday from Bloggle

Today kicked off in the Staff Room listening to the bi-weekly staff briefing. The main topic was a game some of the Year 9s are currently playing which has been dubbed "killer". The idea is to go around choking each other until they go blue in the face and pass out. No kidding. I think some neolithics at my school had some kind of wrestling equivalent – nothing to do with me, a prerequisite for taking part was having an IQ of 50 or less – but this is in a whole other league of stupidity.

I wasn't in a classroom much today, mostly it was spent between talking to various membeers of staff about their roles in school and lesson planning. I do seem to have spent a long time planning the lessons I'll be teaching next week, so hopefully they should be reasonably good – I'm dreading turning up and having run out of ideas after five minutes, I have absolutely no idea how long each thing I have planned will take.

I invigilated another exam today, which was kind of dull seeing as the novelty value had worn off from the first time. I felt sorry for the kids sitting the test, they were only Year 7s and it was boiling. I could hardly concentrate on invigilating – ie. standing around a bit – it must have been really tough sitting what for them was probably a really hard exam. The most funny thing was being asked for that technically named piece of mathematical equipment, the "angle measurey thing".

Again I waited ages for my taxi to show, fortunately this time it did. And it was worth the wait, they sent a Mercedes of all things! Talk about luxury, I stepped in from sweltering heat to the nice cool air-conditioned interior of Stuttgart's finest. Very pleasant indeed, today the taxi stopped to pick up some other people on the same scheme from schools in Coventry. It was nice to chat and exchange experiences.

Next week as I mentioned I'm actually going to be teaching a class. I've come across them before and they seem a nice bunch of kids, I hope they don't turn into horrors especially for me. The normal teacher will be there anyway so I don't reckon I'll end up skinned alive and I'm quite looking forward to it.

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