All entries for January 2011
January 17, 2011
So first day back and I was starting school all over again, along with all the hazards one faces in such situations: 1) Not being able to get my car into one of the teeny tiny spaces in the car park; 2) Trying desperately to remember people's names; 3) Learning the secret staff room dynamics including, most importantly, which mugs can be used for that much needed coffee; 4) Figuring out the totally illogical room numbering system without the aid of a map; 5) Receiving and decoding my timetable.
My placement school had been fantastic in designing a basic timetable which covered everything I needed to cover and gave me opportunities to pick and choose other classes as I wished. Along with a top set year 8 class and the very weak year 7 'Nurture group' (12 pupils), I was given several year 10 and 11 classes. I'd had limited prior experience with KS4 so it's an excellent opportunity to observe and teach them, particularly as my timetable includes two 'Study Plus' classes for year 11 pupils, which are designed to give additional English support to pupils who need help crossing that C/D borderline at GCSE.
I've also had my first experience of AS and A level English Lit and Lang. Having never studied English language at A level or degree level, I felt a bit out of my depth in the first couple of lessons but by fourth lesson I felt so much more confident and the students were so welcoming that I even taught my first A level class today. It was a great success and my mentor was particularly impressed with my appropriate teaching style and the resources I'd created. I get to teach them again on Wednesday and am really looking forward to it. Teaching KS4&5 already seems more fulfilling than KS3, perhaps because I feel I can really use my subject knowledge to explore deeper concepts rather than skimming the surface whilst years 7 & 8 get used to them. Perhaps I should take into account whether schools teach A level when applying for jobs over the next couple of months.
I don't think I've ever appreciated a school holiday as much as I appreciated the first few days of Christmas. I was exhausted and as a self proclaimed organisation obsessive it was nearly killing me to see all the paperwork spilling out of the files which lay haphazardly over nearly every surface of the house. Taking advantage of my time off (and the snow = great excuse to stay in) I spent several days doing nothing... before peeling myself from the duvet and conquering the paperwork mountain. Files were tidied, recycling box was overflowing and it felt good. Really good. Back to the duvet, DVDs and the comfort of my sofa.
Apart from taking a well deserved break I decided that the focus of my holiday training should be my subject knowledge file and, whilst I'd regard my subject knowledge as being pretty good, I knew that I needed to refresh in some areas and collect evidence for the rest. It was a good choice actually because it provided the perfect excuse to chill out and read a lot of books. Some of my holiday reading included: 'The Garbage King', 'Tins', 'River Boy', 'Unique', 'Frankenstein', 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Lord of the Flies'.
I made summary sheets for all of the above, and several other KS3 and 4 texts, and wrote down a list of activities I could use in conjunction with each text. I also went through all of my teaching and training files pulling out notes and worksheets I'd made to support them.
Subject knowledge is a bit of a funny one when it comes to providing evidence, especially in English when it would never be possible to read every single play, poem, novel or article ever written, but having a beautifully organised folder to add to the growing collection on my, now beautiful, book shelf was really quite satisfying for a filing freak like me!