All entries for November 2011

November 25, 2011

KFC and a cup of tea.

It is Friday. I love Fridays. I like all the other days too, but Friday is when I finally feel able to relax. A productive week has been had. Lessons have been taught with varying degrees of success. Today’s year seven Pantomime lessons have been a highlight. I deserve a cup of tea.

The weekend is mine. I get to decide how the next two days pan out, and although it’s most likely to be full of lesson planning and masters writing, at least I get to dictate when and where this happens. Autonomy is a wonderful thing. Something I want for my pupils in the classroom, but I have to question whether this is possible when I myself don’t feel the least bit autonomous right now. But then I suppose we all need a bit of structure... hmmm, structured autonomy - is there such a thing?

Schools are marvellous places. When they are full of pupils they make complete sense, we are working for them, and they complete our job description. But when the 3.30 bell goes and the pupils filter out, some more desperate to get through the gates than others, a school becomes a soulless shell of a place. Even the teachers who hang around for meetings or to get on with work are only there for the sake of the pupils. Ghosts of the day’s events wander the corridors and are then pushed into yesterday when the next school day begins. New day, new start. This is my motto and it has kept me going thus far.

So, teaching. It’s pretty darn good. Days fly by and I laugh, a lot. I also do the angry face a lot. I like to think I’ve got it perfected. The epitome of ‘unimpressed’ in one swift facial expression. The face that says “I’m not even going to tell you what you’ve done wrong because you and I both know”. Turns out that the angry face isn’t normally enough and detentions seem to work better. You waste my time, I’ll waste yours.

This brings me swiftly on to behaviour management. One word sums up what I have learnt about behaviour management strategies: consequences. Just telling a pupil off repeatedly is no good, there has to be a clear system: this is your first warning, you do that again and I’ll be seeing you after class. And if they do it again, flipping well follow through with it! The behaviourists among us would suggest that this is the best way to condition a pupil to behave better. I’m not sure if I completely agree but I do agree that actions need consequences, and as teachers, we are the ones who have to deliver those consequences. This includes praise. You do brilliant work, I give you stickers, credits, merits, postcards... I might even force a smile.

Anyway, these three weeks have taught me that pupils can spot an empty threat a mile off. And they can smell fear. Two things I have been trying to quash in my classroom practice. The gradient of the learning curve I am on is like nothing I have ever experienced before. It terrifies and excites me all at the same time.

But I love it. I actually love it. I’m shattered, I ache, my brain hurts, I sometimes don’t eat lunch because I still get so nervous before a Period 4 lesson. But I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. This is my life. I teach, I drink tea, I eat KFC, I am happy.

November 2011

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