November 11, 2011

PP1 first week

Reflections at the end of my first week of Placement.

So I’ve made it to the end of my first week of block placement. It has been a very long week but I have enjoyed the challenges. The departmental staff have been really supportive with their feedback from my informal lesson observations, which has given me a lot to think about. My mentor has been really helpful in the time that he has spent discussing the lessons that I have taught my planning and general constructive sound advice. Although, a relatively young teacher I do feel like I can learn a lot from working with him. I also have the privilege of working with a number of other staff in the department which means I get to see a wide variety of different teaching styles and approaches, as well as different advice on how to develop as a teacher.

Will start with my Year 7 group. I have now taught three lessons to them; they are a small group of Pupils all of whom are on the SEN register. We are together discovering the wonders of the Romans. Think I’ve got off to a good start with this group; we have a good learning environment going on in our classroom! I’m still trying to learn how to pitch activities to this class, we’ve done a number of different things like mind maps, storyboards, video clips and worksheets. The pupils have thrown themselves into our lessons with vigour. But, I’ve learnt how important it is to differentiate for the seven individual learners in the group. My main aim for next week with them is to ensure that I’m able to see all of the Pupils progressing. Games work really well with them; I will be continuing to try to weave them into the lessons, so long as they have a positive impact upon their learning. I had a lunch time training session on SEN within the school on Wednesday. It was great to hear of some strategies that I’m going to try to put into practise next week.

My mentor and other teachers have pointed out how I really need to be consistent in my approach in every single lesson. It’s hard when you’re leading a class discussion and the Kids get so animated within it that they forget to put their hands up. I really need to ensure that this is happening every single lesson. This is going to be one of my major focuses in my lessons next week. It seems so obvious when it has been pointed out to me and I need to work hard to ensure that it happens every lesson.

I’m also teaching a terrifyingly bright top set year eight group about the causes of the English Civil War. Something I studied at Leicester but definitely not a specialist! I was extremely nervous about working with this group and have learnt a lot in this week’s lessons with them. The task I had devised for them was a decision making game of the choices that Charles I had made in the lead up to war. Although, I do believe that it was a good activity to do. The way that it was presented as a whole class discussion whilst filling in a worksheet meant that the lesson sometimes lacked a certain amount of pace, As a result of this the Pupils were (during the first lesson) talking over me whilst I was giving instructions. This was quite a big problem in my first lesson with them. After, taking some advice from the class teacher I decided I needed to revisit my expectations. This worked well and the Pupils responded to what I was saying. I felt like this was a major step in the right direction with the class. The tasks I did with them during the second lesson set up their extended writing homework. I was pleased when the class teacher said that the activities stretched the G&T Students. This is something which I need to continue to do. My main aim for next week with the class is to try to use a greater range of activities in the lesson. As well as continuing to reinforce my expectations and rules in the classroom.

I also started working with a Year 9 group; we’ll be covering Nazi propaganda together as a project. I really want to try to ensure that I do this well! The lesson started off positively with a visual starter depicting some modern examples of political propaganda, to try to get the idea across. This worked well and the Pupils were engaged and asking some interesting and insightful questions. However, I then proceeded to discuss the classroom expectations. I think this might have lowered the motivation of the Pupils in class. The class did generally work hard on the activities; there were a few moments of low level disruption. I waited for silence before continuing but I need to ensure again that I always follow up with threats and sanctions. Basic stuff really but it makes a difference. My main task for next week is to try to ensure a greater variety of Pupil centred activities and again reinforcing my expectations.

I have also had the chance to observe the second Year 7 and 8 groups that I’ll be picking up next week. I am looking forward to working with them and will be trying to put into practise some of the lessons that I’ve learnt during this first week. Have also been observing some GCSE and A-Level teaching, it was good to see a wide variety of techniques employed rather than just teaching to the test. I’ll be working with both groups later on in the placement and I truly hope that I can rise to the challenge. All in all, it’s been a really good week. A steep learning curve but one that I am continuing to embrace fully. I do think I’m heading in the right direction… in a good school which is going to give me every opportunity to learn and improve as a teacher.

I’m so tired but I seriously don’t want to do anything else with my life. So, Miss McInally will continue to power on.


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