December 01, 2010

Second Observed Lesson

Just when you crawl out from between a rock and a hard place, gusty winds from Scandanavia and Norsk throw you into another.  I am referring to my second lesson observation.  The first lesson on 'The importance of body language and vocal delivery in presentations' was lacking in resources and planning.  

Thankfully, following a conversation with a pleasant Polish student named Marsina, I was introduced to Prezi.  Prezi is a zooming presentation program, free to use at  It is essentially like powerpoint, but where powerpoint moves forward, causes frequent pain and a well known tool to combat insomnia; Prezi works in curves, pans and zooms.  I urge all readers to give it a go.  You will thank me in the morning.

Well thanks to my Prezi I was able to put on a jolly good show for the guys who are in the process of recording a radio advert for a music event.  However, I was using my own voice too much and need to hand the mike back to the students more.  There is a subconscious tendency for us trainee teachers, when under observation, to feel as if it is US AND OUR SUBJECT KNOWLEDGE that is being observed; when in reality, it is US AND WHAT WE INSTRUCT OUR STUDENTS TO DO which is really what they are observing.

More food for thought.

November 26, 2010

First Observed Lesson – Post Mortem

Yesterday marked the occasion of my first observed lesson.  The BTEC First Creative and Media guys have been working in small groups on a PowerPoint presentation based upon 'Advertising'. 

Holly delivered a brilliant observed lesson last Thursday on 'Good Presentation Technique'; and it was my aim to draw upon the key points of that lesson, throw in a couple of my ideas and then instill all of these elements into the younger minds.

I made use of an acronym I learned a long time ago, RSVP, Rhythm Speed Volume Pitch; with regards to voice projection and I made use of a monologue by David Carradine (RIP) in Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 2.

"Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn. But the mythology... The mythology is not only great, it's unique.  Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race. Sorta like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plimpton."

The above monologue was firstly ready by a student, then by the exemplar.  It worked well, or so I was told!

Overall, I am aware that I need to make full use of the resources behind me and this may now involve an element of self-teaching which has never failed me in the past.  All in all a very satisying experience.  I was waiting all morning for the nerves to kick in, but I was rather busy and then half an hour prior to the start of the lesson I had time to re-arrange the furniture, chomp an imitation Bounty bar and then it was all go-go-go.

It's a shame that this placement is so short, which it is, or at least it feels like it is.

I would be very interested to know how the observed lessons of my colleagues went.  

November 18, 2010

First solo lesson

I performed my first solo lesson today.  It was on getting employed in the creative media industries.  Overall, the feedback says I did a satisfactory job. 

There were areas of excellence in classroom mangement, building rapport and subject knowledge.  However I was lacking in planning and resources and left far too much of the lesson to my freestyle ad-hoc nature. 

Food for thought indeed.

November 17, 2010

Another chunk of days go by!

Good morning bloggers.

I am not finding anything negative to say about my placement here.  Rich (not necessarily monetary-wise), diverse students.........Great staff.........Top-notch resources.............

November 12, 2010

Almost the end of the first full week

As it says in the subject line I am coming towards the fag-end of my first full week.  It has been an excellent week.  The setting, staff, resources and perhaps most importantly, the learners are all above average.  It is great to be part of the scene here. 

My timetable is taking a real shape now.  It was skeletal 'se7en' days ago but, now; it has a wide spread of courses and subject areas therein.  I have areas in Functional Skills, Creative Media Production, Digital Media, Filmmaking and Animation. 

I am feeling very happy that these subject areas fall within my areas of interest which are quite diverse.  Over the upandcoming week, I will be providing lesson support, solo-teaching, team-teaching with Miss. Holly Gaston and generally being a cog in the "*** ******* machinery.

As I have worked at this FE establishment before I often bump into recogniseable staff and students and it's great that the rapport we used to share is still ignited!  It is also great to work alongside Holly who is fabulous!

I shall retire for now as I do have some tasks to do during the rest of the day and over the weekend.

Take it easy policy. 

November 08, 2010

The much belated start to Block Placement 1

I shall have to keep it brief fellow readers as your humble narrator has plenty of other work to be getting on with; however the blog shall not suffer!

I am very happy to be placed in fairly familiar surroundings and was given a timetable with blocks of free time on my very first day last week!  Brilliant!  This will provide me with plenty of time to get back into the groove and chip away at the work which has been bestowed upon us.

As I said, I must keep it brief for now but overall, reflectively speaking, going pretty well thanks!

October 30, 2010

The Return of the Roger

First and foremost, dear readers, I would like to express my deepest and most sincerest happy-polly-loggies for my misendeavours which culminated in my absence.  A special note to Antony, Danny, Mike & Taran; Team Athena I'm sorry.  Holly, sorry for not being there to meet and walk us to City College - someday.

Roger is back - with a massive appetite for success - watch this space.  

October 17, 2010

Akira Kurosawa, David Brent and A Good Work Ethic

dbYesterday, although it felt like a millenia, I visited Warwick Arts Centre for a Film Talk on Akira Kurosawa followed by a screening (VHS) of Stray Dog 19-fifty-something sorry.  What an experience.  John Gore puts on great programmes, and in the past has featured Kubrick, Leone, Scorsese et. al.

As I look into the horizon, making sense of it all, I will take the work ethic of Japanese filmmakers into my working practise.  As David Brent once said: "I haven't got a sign on the door that says 'white people only'. I don't care if you're black, brown, yellow - Orientals make very good workers." Indeed Mr Gervais.  Stephen Merchant went to Warwick University.

For anyone interested in film, I thoroughly reccomend a visit.  They take place once per half term, the next one is set to be a real cracker.  Post-war hysteria and the liberal approach of subject matter by the studios allowed auteurs to really express themselves. 'Peeping Tom' makes 'A Clockwork Orange' look like a plesant visit to nana's.

Please, fellow students interested in film, attend!  It's a great experience I assure thee!

October 14, 2010

the Method

Seing as there is only one academic day before we start placement, I felt it was time to talk about the approach I am planning to take.  I've used it before, lots. 

It's a very versatile approach, some may be subconsciously incompetent, others may be consciously competent; I do believe that all individuals within society operate within its parameters to some extent or another. 

It's the Stanislavski Method, from Konstantin Stanislavski, a Russian from the 1930s.  It concerns itself with searching for the 'theatrical truth', replicating or reproducing another characters emotional state to project one's self differently.

I consider teaching to be a very unnatural process.  That is not to say that there aren't individuals who are not natural teachers, of course there are.  However, the notion of one older person standing in front of, let's say thirty, young people of all roughly the same age; within an institution, disseminating information via teaching - is a wholly unnatural act.  When else in the human lifespan does this occur?

With this wholly unnatural act in mind, it requires an approach which is a transformation of the usual self.  Speech, dress, walk, talk, non-verbal communication, mental state.  All of these things need to be altered somewhat for two reasons.  Firstly, to accommodate the virtues of the Method and secondly, to make the unnatual seem more natural.

October 13, 2010

Underachievers in Secondary School

Raise aspirations!" the PGCE student called out.  

"Yeah but how do you that?" retorted the lecturer.  

This occurred with some seven or eight minutes left of the lecture; just enough time for us to gloss over ideas like 'guest visits' or 'personalising learning'.  Shouldn't this have kick started proceedings instead of forming the fag-end?

I am blogging on about the lecture held this afternoon at 2pm.  

I sat there, five or six rows from the front, disengaged.  Thank God I had Fruit Pastilles, Thank God I binned the packaging for I don't want custodians on my back.  Thank God even more I was able to have a cigarette before the next lecture started when I shared my opinions with an agreeable colleague.  She's always Wright.  I will share these opinions with you all now.  And as always, would welcome any feedback with open arms.  

Surely we know girls do better than boys.  Surely we know African-Caribbean pupils continue to struggle right the way upto Key Stage 4 and surely we know to carry an umbrella in the rain.

But what of the strategies that we can use to tackle this colossal, nationwide problem.

I wasn't expecting an all-singing-all-dancing-bells-ringing solution; partly because there may not be one.  

The answer, fellow colleagues may lie in OUR hands, our COLLECTIVE hands as those individuals who, in the future, will aim to be marked as Outstanding on a useless OFSTED sheet.  

However, we will only learn if this assertion is true, IF we are given the tools by Simon and Newell, the tools which allow us to introspect.  To introspect, we think aloud, and with several like-minded people this becomes the way we can tackle the issue heads-on.  

We were shown a sneak-peek of the tools today, but with only a few minutes to go before the end, sadly we did not have the chance to work with them.

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