March 13, 2013

Complementary Complimentary

With the best will in the world I intended to update this blog regularly and make it a work of such reflective mastery that it would be studied by trainee teachers for centuries to come. Somewhere down the line however it became mid-March and I'm nearly finished my complementary placement. Cobblers.

So how has it been going?

Well the Autumn term really was tough. It was so long, and so dark... I get a bit of SADS at the best of times, the burdens of teacher training didn't really help. But I made it. Since then things have felt disjointed to be honest. After Xmas we had two weeks at Uni, then in the land of kings we only had 3 weeks before Feb half term, which led straight into comp placement which is where I am now. So I've not really felt settled and 'in routine' since before Xmas which is a shame.

Complementary has been great. Pretty cushy if I'm honest. For one thing my timetable is greatly reduced here. Secondly it is a department where they all follow the same schemes of learning, immaculately resourced and all sitting waiting for me in the staff shared area. Where's me memory stick...

Consequently I have been free of the planning burden for the last four weeks and it has been lovely to be so. It's interesting the way some departments work like this... very prescriptive and with resources shared by all teachers. In my main school they're fairly autonomous and all three History teachers do their own thing. It would've been 90% easier to have trained at the complementary school, but would I have learnt as much? I doubt it. Lesson planning is a huge trauma but you need to know how to do it! It's just a shame they don't tell you at Uni!

Complementary placement has reinforced some of my early observations:

1. It's so important to know names. Behaviour management is useless if you're trying to catch someone's eye and saying things like 'you there! excuse me! yes, you!'. Nightmare.

2. You need to build a solid working relationship with your students. I know and they know that I'm only here for a few weeks. It does have an impact in all sorts of ways. Luckily they're mainly a nice bunch.

3. Teaching is an unnatural act. After the extended Xmas break (including time at Uni) I needed to regain 'match fitness'. Lessons felt exhasuting again and quite nerve wracking. This is why the summer holidays are both heaven and hell!

I've been applying for jobs and have had two interviews. This felt like a huge step as I was confronted with the prospect of becoming a 'real' teacher, on my own with no mentor to run to! The interviews both went well but in both cases they appointed an experienced teacher. A shame, but nothing you can do about that. If they'd appointed a rival trainee that would've stung. Job hunting just adds to the workload though. The applications take hours, then there's the preparation for the lesson. Not good.

I am looking forward to going back to my main school for the run in. I really do want to hone my craft now, and really think about my PDP.

I miss going into Uni on Fridays. We really bonded and the camaraderie was lovely. We were all in the same boat and comforted each other. If anyone is reading this, I miss you guys!

November 22, 2012

November has come


So we're well into the new half term, in fact I'm pleased to say that as of now (Uni tomorrow= start of the weekend) we're officially half way- 4 weeks done, 4 weeks to go. This term really is a beast... 8 weeks here in Leicester, seriously!?!?! Can't the powers that be plan this better? (Note to self- don't turn into a moaning teacher- most people, including you previously, go a lot longer than 8 weeks without a holiday!) I have all the term dates on my fridge, and looking at the new year the terms are 25- 30 days. Piece of cake. Just need to get to Christmas and it's plain sailing...

The start of this new term was really tough. I felt that things had really stepped up a gear and I felt daunted at first. But now a few weeks in I feel better. I suppose the sheer amount of planning to be done was the worst thing. But I soon changed my methods, streamlined my planning process (you don't have to make your own resources, using textbooks IS ok!) and with a little help from my friends have been fine. I also actually missed not going into to Uni for three weeks (the two half term weeks and primary visit)- it felt quite isolating. I like seeing the others on Fri and having a chat about things. It's nice to know that we're all in the same boat.

Marking is still a pain- I want to spend my time planning lessons, not marking. It takes forever and can be really tedious, and to be honest a bit pointless (tick, tick, tick). But oh well, must not moan. The school day finishes at 2.45 afterall.

I've had my first two University observations (professional mentor and subject mentor) and I'm pleased to say that both went well. Nice to have them out the way and get some reassurance that I'm doing alright.

I like teaching all of my groups apart from one. They are a lively bunch where chatting spreads like wildfire any time there is a split second pause in the lesson. The biggest problem is that it is so widespread throughout the class that it's difficult to target individuals. I know it's not just me- other teachers have the same problem. I suppose it's just a case of continuing to be firm and constantly repeating expectations. But having to do that all the time takes the shine off teaching the lesson. Part of the problem is that both lessons are period 4 after lunch and as already discovered, the afternoon is not the best time to teach. Must soldier on with them.

I've started my first KS4 lessons (year 10). Very nerve wracking at first but now I enjoy them the most.

November was always going to be tough. Dark mornings and nights, MA1 and PP2 deadlines. I guess all in all I'm doing fine.

Over and out.

October 18, 2012

End of term


It's the last week of half term here in Leicester, so a good time for some good ol' fashioned blogging to look back at events thus far.

Random observations:

The time of day really matters in school. The only really miserable experience I've had so far in class was Tuesday p5, year 7. My goodness they were restless, noisy, immature, you name it. It was a bit of a battle and one I'm not sure I won. A bit dispiriting really and the kind of lesson where you go away and think 'it it me?', 'can't I control a classroom?' But I saw the same class the next day p2 and they were much better so I guess time of day does matter a lot. I also taught the samel lesson twice more this week and it went a lot better both times. So it's definitely a p5 pheomenon. Not me...

I did have one success in that class I suppose, I made a change to the seating plan and it worked. There was one side of the room which was causing me grief so I mixed it up a little bit. I felt guilty moving the 'good' girl to the 'bad' side and explained that it was nothing she'd done. She seemed fine with it.

Aside from that I've enjoyed all of my lessons which is reassuring.

My main problem seems to be timing! I am using lesson plans but always seem to run out of time! I guess I'm still trying to put too much into each lesson which is a sign of trainee anxiety about running out of things to do. I think that is the issue. I allow quite a lot of time for whole class discussion but that can't be a bad thing. I think there's also a bit too much 'me' in my lessons- I need to loosen the reigns. I'm tempted to give them everything rather than let them do some of it themselves. Again, trainee anxiety I think.

Differentiation is a headache. All History classes here are mixed ability and the range of ability within each group is quite staggering. I need to start to cater for this next term because if I'm honest I've ignored it so far. Ethically I like the idea of everyone having the same starting point and providing extension tasks for the more able. That strikes me as better than handing out 'dumbed down' material, but it's difficult.

It's really gratifying being looked to as a teacher. After a few years as a TA and Cover Supervisor, being seen, treated and respected as a bonafide teacher is nice. I'm starting to build relationships with the kids as well. It's a nice feeling. In my first few weeks there were sometimes a few sighs or groans when they found out I was taking the lesson rather than my mentor. I understand that cause he is great, but it still hurt a little and wasn't the best start to a lesson. Now I feel accepted. I even heard a yessss, it's Mr Underwoodthe other day! These things matter!!!

Next term

One thing is clear- it's getting real after half term. My timetable really kicks in full time then. I will therefore be spending most of half term planning lessons and trying to get on top of my University assignments. I don't mind though; it's a good chance to get ahead and I'm grateful for the week off to do so. I'd rather do that than have a hellish half term being swamped.

So all in all a great first half term. Can't believe how quick it's gone and I'm chuffed with what I've achieved.

Ta ta

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