October 31, 2011

A pleasant bottle of red with a fruity kick and some oaky undertones.

It has been a while since I last blogged. But that doesn’t been I have not been reflecting (reflection-in-action has been the flavour of the last fortnight, and rightly so). To be quite honest, I have had an exceedingly large volume of things to chew over in the last couple of weeks and I have only just got round to chewing everything into enough bite-sized chunks to finally swallow all the information and face the blog. Reflection for me can often feel like a right effort; any attempt to make coherent sense of my thoughts just makes my head hurt , so I prefer to let my ponderings rest and mature like a fine wine in the hope that they will eventually be pleasant to taste, with a fruity kick and a hint of oaky wisdom.

So here’s the pleasant, tasteful stuff:

I love learning. I have just spent Reading Week poring over intelligent articles written by intelligent people, and I have even momentarily let myself think I may be able to join the ‘clever club’ if I do well enough with this MA assignment. There is a sense that we are joining a real, living, ongoing discussion about the future of education, and that we might just stumble across something that makes a real difference to pupil’s progress. Exciting, huh? And I get to keep learning for the rest of my life. Huzzah for life-long learning!

I have also really enjoyed getting to know the pupils and staff at my PP1 school. There have only been three orientation days so far, but I have already got a good feel for the place and managed to get myself involved with the school musical (Beauty and the Beast). I now wish to be known as ‘Miss Payne, Choreographer Extraordinaire’. The staff are all extremely hard working and have done a lot in the last few years to improve the school. I join the school at a very interesting time, when they are looking to sustain the improvement that has been made and become an outstanding school. The teachers in the Performing Arts department are just brilliant and will be excellent models for me to learn from.

The fruity kick:

I am already in week eight of the most defining year of my life so far. I have learnt more about myself in this eight week period than I could possibly have hoped for. And it will only get more enlightening as I storm heart-first into PP1. This course is shining a big powerful torch on my passions, my prejudices, my priorities and my pitfalls. Admittedly, I am daunted. But when I take a step outside of myself and remove the critical parrot on my shoulder that squawks “You’ll never make a very good teacher”, I realise that I am really enjoying the process. I put this down to the fact that, all moaning aside, I love a challenge, and this PGCE course top trumps any challenge I have ever faced before.

The last couple of weeks have also marked the beginnings of my battle with data. The focus on progression and improvement at my PP1 school has meant the staff are extremely focussed on pupil data. This comes from a very rational place: they need to know they are meeting targets and ensuring progression for every pupil. All sounds good so far, but I take issue with an over-reliance on data: pupils are humans, not numbers to be crunched into a huge data base in year 7 and spat out in year 11 having achieved or not achieved FFT targets. This data then goes on to form the school’s GCSE pass rate percentage and turned into impressive bar charts, pie charts and scatter graphs to show Ofsted, parents, and future GCSE cohorts. Perhaps I take issue with the fact that I have seen the pupils’ data before I have had chance to properly meet the pupils. For me, this just turns young people into a list of levels. My quarrels with data aside, I want to know my pupils well enough to encourage each of them to develop a real passion for learning and to be the best they can be. If I can acheive such an ideal vision of teaching and learning, come data collection day, I'll be laughing.

The oaky wisdom:

I wish to finish my blog this week with an honest confession about how much I am missing home , especially the people there. Going home during Reading Week has only confirmed my desire to be closer to those people. I am happy to admit that coming to Warwick University has been about getting the best training possible, not about relocating my life. At the end of this year I’ll be packing my things into my car and driving home to a fabulous NQT job nearer to the people I love. This has caused me to think about the saying ‘home is where the heart is’. My heart is in teaching. During this phase of my life, teaching is to be found here, in Coventry, so I’m happy to call it home for now.

My heart is most definitely still in it. Power on Miss Payne.

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