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June 16, 2005

Thursday

Follow-up to Wednesday from Bloggle

Today was quite interesting. First lesson I wa sin the special needs department. It's hard not to feel sorry for the kids there. They were doing textiles and it took them an hour to do about four cross stitches.

In the second lesson I ended up watching James Bond, which isn't really what I'm there for, but hey! I'm not complaining. It was an English I was observing and they were studying media. Of course, it was useful for me anyway to see an English teacher in action to see different kinds of questioning techniques… oh, who am I kidding? I was just happy to spend an hour watching a film!

Lessons three and four were in maths. The classes were doing an experiment in order to generate statistical data. They were playing a game (it's fun give it a go) on the internet to test reaction times and I was helping out with that.

I had an interesting conversation about ICT in classes at lunch. I can't believe the technology in schools now, it wasn't like that in my day! I think interactive white boards are amazing, the teachers can do so much.

The remaining lessons were spent writing up some of my bits and pieces. I can't believe I get money for being there, I spend half my time trying to make sure I'm not in anyone's way. Of course the school gets good use out of me, I'll be invigilating another exam tomorrow.

Getting home was the hard part. A taxi arranged by the IoE is supposed to pick me up, unfortunately the company sent one from their fleet of invisible cabs today. I wasn't sure what to do, here I was in a strange town I don't know from Calcutta, with no definite plan for getting home. Oh dear!

It's hard to know how long to wait in these situations, you don't want to leave and then the taxi turn up a minute later. I'd waited for maybe half an hour when a bus went past so I instinctively leapt on and was whisked off to the centre of Nuneaton – at least I know what it's like now. I got off at the bus station and found a Coventry bound bus. Praise ye to Stagecoach! I didn't even have to wait, it was right there. Even more unbelievably the drivers were polite, I almost fainted. I wouldn't like to think that my being dressed all smart rather than like a scruffy student had anything to do with it. Surely not?

The bus I was now on went very close to the school, so I suppose the first bus was fairly superfluous – how was I to know? I wasn't entirely sure where I would end up either, the driver said it stopped near Pool Meadows, but Hillfields is kind of near Pool Meadows, certainly relative to Nuneaton anyway. Hillfields is the last place I'd want to end up. Well, no, I suppose Iraq would be worse, but I found it hard to imagine that the Stagecoach 48 bus stopped at Nuneaton, Bedworth (No I'd never heard of it either) and Basra.

As it happens the bus stopped very near Pool Meadows indeed. I was so relieved I almost cried. I boarded a number 12 bus (back to grumpy drivers – maybe it was because I'd untucked my shirt and slackened my tie because the previous bus was hot and sticky) bound for campus. I got home fully ninety minutes later than I should have. I'm not best pleased, but it's Friday tomorrow so there's somthing to smile about afterall.


June 15, 2005

Wednesday

Follow-up to Tuesday from Bloggle

I had the dubious pleasure of being in a PE lesson today. It made me remember why I hated the subject. They were playing quick cricket and it looked a little too energetic for my liking. It did give me a chance to make some lesson observation notes though. In maths lessons I'll usually go around and help kids who are stuck, but obviously that's not necessary with PE, unless they were to get physically stuck in some gym equipment say. I'd imagine that's quite rare though.

The highlight of the day was observing a really rude Year 9 class. They were horrid! Well I suppose it was only a few class members bringing the rest down, but they certainly weren't going to win any "class of the year" awards. There was a virtually constant stream of pupils being sent out, at one point I could have sworn there were more in the corridor than actually in the class. Lovely.

I've been in school three days now, and some of the pupils are starting to recognise me. It's quite nice hearing "Alright Sir" or "Hello Mr Walker". Of course not all pupils are so pleasant, someone asked me if I was in Year 8. No! Honestly, do I look like I'm 12/13?

It's got to be said that children/teenagers say some pretty weird things. I happened to overhear a conversation in one of the classes I was in which featured the excellent quote of "I'm only a lesbian with one person." What?! I wonder if that means I'm asexual with around 6 billion people then. Another bizzare thing was in a registration in the afternoon the children responded with "Good Aftermorning". Which was rather amusing.

The "aftermorning" was spent mainly doing adminstrative bits for the scheme I'm on, which was writing my log and filling in some lesson observation bits. Not terribly exciting. I also had a discussion about the role of PSHE, which is PSE with extra "Health". It was kind of interesting I suppose. At school I always thought it was a waste of time, but I think the main benefits are to children from less affluent backgrounds.

After getting back to campus this afternoon I spotted lots of people in Tuxes in preparation for the Final Fling tonight. So I didn't feel quite so silly dressed up all smart for school. In fact with a shirt and tie I was almost dressing down.


June 14, 2005

Tuesday

Follow-up to Monday from Bloggle

In the morning I was tracking a pupil, this meant going into a number of lessons that were completely alien to me. Including French, in which I am fluent in the following words: Bonjour, Oui and Merci. Also I was in a science lesson including some stuff exploding, neat.

As it happens the pupil I tracking was a child genius or something, but he was pretty normal – kind of like Malcolm in the Middle I guess. The French teacher told me he had an IQ of 180+ (Onehundred and Eighty!) Which is amazing.

In the afternoon I was helping invigilate an exam. Yes, it would appear I've turned to the darkside! It was kind of strange to see it from the other point of view, mostly it involved being asked for compasses or protractors. One of the teacher's advice was to just walk up and down the aisles looking stern. Stern? I'm not particularly good at stern but I tried! Unfortunately my shoes made a ridiculous clunk on the floor so I sort of grimaced every time I took a step. I tried really hard to make it as quiet as possible but the best way was walking on tip-toes which felt a bit silly so I settled for making a noise. Either way I couldn't quite manage a stern face. Oh well, quoi dis done.


June 13, 2005

Monday

Follow-up to First Day Tomorrow from Bloggle

After my concerns about transport I was relieved to get to school okay. Though it took me a while to realise that the taxi was there waiting for me on Gibbet Hill road, it was a normal car except for having "Chaffeured Hire Cars" emblazened on the bac window. I looked at it and thought it sounded posh and ignored it. I'm dopey, I know. The only other problem was that the driver was listening to Heart FM, *shivers*.

School was okay in that they did appear to be ready for me, though I had trouble finding the reception to sign in. They'd moved it since I'd been there last term so I quickly got lost, a process which involved actually walking right past where the reception now is. Look, it was early, okay!

The first lesson was me being given a tour by two very polite pupils. Presumably they were being polite on account of it helping get them out of a maths lesson, I imagine that put them in good spirits. After my tour I concluded that, yes, I was indeed at a school and not an abatoir. The classrooms were the real clincher. Honestly, I could have gone round any school, I think they all more or less look the same. The best bit was being shown a classroom with maps on the wall, can you guess what subject that was?

Also I talked to an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher), it was nice to find out what teaching was like from someone quite new to it, though she did keep repeating the phrase "you'll be fine", which was nice, but it made me wonder why I might not be.

I was only in one (revision) class today, the rest was spent planning lessons, looking through my handbook and writing my log (which was rather short seeing as I hadn't done anything to log about), or I suppose more accurately it was divided between those those activities and trying to look busy by striking thoughtful poses and looking into space with deep concentration.

Tomorrow is tracking a pupil, which isn't some terrifying hunting game, I merely go to the same lessons as them. I hope no one asks me to help during English.


June 12, 2005

First Day Tomorrow

Follow-up to Back to School from Bloggle

Most post exam slothernlyness is about to be blown out of the water by my going into school for the next three weeks. Good bye lazy lie-ins, hello Mr. Taxi at 7:30am.

This starts tomorrow, which means whilst most people (apart from the poor buggers who still have exams and actual teaching students and probably plenty of others too but that kind of stamps on my point, oh and let's not forget people who live in the real world outside of our cosy little bubble who have proper jobs and don't get stupid amounts of time off) are winding down, I'm winding up again. Oh well, I always like to be different.

I just hope I get to school alright and they're actually ready for me. I was originally due to start last week but changed due to match someone else going into the same school at the same time, which was mightily nice of me I might add, seeing as I won't get to go home for an extra week now (sad face). Added to this Warwick Email has conspired to stop me getting there by refusing to deliver emails from the Institue of Education regarding my transport. The bastard! I hate computers, I swear they do it on purpose sometimes. Seeing as it would appear that the IoE sent me at least two emails that I didn't get, hence didn't reply to (have you ever managed to reply to an email you didn't get? It's not easy) they must think I'm a right case. I sincerely hope this doesn't in anyway affect my PGCE application(!)

I've spent the day reading through the handbook we get telling us what we have to do. Part of this is writing a log of what we've done. How about a weblog? huh? I think perhaps the, ahem, colourful language featured here may not be appropriate fodder. Plus there's a number of forms I've been making copies of by using Excel to create my own. It's great, if teaching falls through as a career I've started myself on a path towards forgery, I think I've made a good start on it.

Anyway it looks like early nights for me, I have a neurotic compulsion in situations like this to prepare everything the night before, this includes making my lunch and packing my bag, general stuff most people do, but also tieing my tie and laying out my clothes in the order I'm going to put them on. I told you I was neurotic. I've stopped short of putting the toast in the toaster for breakfast already, so it would appear I'm not completely insane, though a lack of sleep over the next three weeks may well tip the balance.

So assuming the Taxi turns up, the driver doesn't get lost (we've had problems before), the school's still standing (it's a rougth area apparently, arson?), they're expecting me, they don't decide they don't like the look of me and I manage to remember all my appropriate bits of paper I think I should be okay. Oh yeah, better set my alarm clock too.


May 29, 2005

Back to School

This year I've been on the Students Associates Scheme. This is basically an opportunity for aspiring teachers to get a little bit of training and get some in school experience. So fundamentally it's like having a taster course for a PGCE.

At the end of this term I'm going into George Eliot School in Nuneaton. This means whilst almost everyone else at university is lazing around and having lie ins I'll be getting up early. I hope you'll think of me when I'm crawling out of bed at six in the morning, though it's probably best you don't get a good image in your head. I'm not too pretty at that (any?) time of day.

During term two I was in the school on Tuesday mornings. This gave me a chance to see what schools are like when you're not being forced to go there.

For the most part the pupils actually seemed friendly and polite enough, hell, even some of the ones wearing caps managed to be courteous. This was possibly the biggest surprise of the whole experience. It was rather strange to hear people calling me "sir", I'd expected to have to put up with "oi! you!" so I was most pleased. I could get used to that sort of thing.

As you would imagine there were some – how shall I put this? – less pleasant pupils. One particular scenario involved me having a cap (it's all about the caps) thrown at me. Gosh! In actual fact it was thrown by a teacher trying to throw it in a direction away from the owner of the cap, unfortunately this happened to be my direction. The pupil in question then put forward a well thought out and highly eloquent case for why the teacher ought to reconsider the confiscation of said headware. This involved repeating the words "I want my cap" over and over and generally looking rather put out. The poor lad clearly didn't know what to do without it, heaven forebid anyone see what the top of his head looks like.

The most worrying situation I found myself in was with a Year 10 class. I was informed that I "looked like that guy from The Office". Oh no! You have not known true fear until you are placed in a siuation where you believe a bunch of fifteen year olds are about to rename you David Brent. I braced myself. Luckily they were refering to Tim, which is a whole load more acceptable. This was a great relief, though I have no idea how they formed this opinion. Honestly, I don't look the slightest bit like the guy, heck I even might look more like Dawn! Perhaps they just feel compelled to think of lookalikeys for everyone they meet so they can remember their name. The fact that the name is incorrect is aside from the point, just so long as you have one. Needless to say they took to refering to me as "Tim" with great gusto. Still after the relief I felt from not being named David or Brent this state of affairs was actually quite satisfactory. Though if I were an actual teacher I think there'd be a balance of power issue with that one.

But I'm not in that siuation! Though I will get to teach a lesson when I go in at the end of term, which is certainly going to be an experience. All in all I'm looking forward to the three weeks I'll be there.


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