Monthly Archives: September 2006

2006
09/30

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Teaching

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A week of firsts

So this week I not only led a (very small part of) the weekly staff meeting, explaining and demonstrating the use of shared folders on the school network; I also took my first class (in ICT, as I mentioned earlier) – which went as well as can be expected, all things considered.

There were, of course, things on which I could build. But overall, it was apparently quite passable. My dozen (or slightly more – who’s counting?) years of experience as an IT developer do indeed help. Being completely at ease with the software does mean that I can concentrate on other things, like making sure the children are actually working.

So there we go. I survived.

2006
09/29

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Teaching

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Currently thinking…

“So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” — Willy Wonka

So, where to start? Well, to kick things off, tomorrow I take my first full lesson – the whole class, the whole lesson. That’s the bad news – I’m terrified – the good news is that it’s in ICT (computing to those of you not involved in education at the moment) so I do at least consider myself somewhat of an expert in terms of subject knowledge.

Today marked my first planning session with my class teacher. Very productive, personally, although I don’t know how much use I was to them 😉 Also, I had my lesson plan for the afore-mentioned ICT lesson “vetted” – postive feedback, no amendments suggested – so that’s all set for tomorrow.

Then, this afternoon, my mentor returns from a training session at the university (on how to mentor) informing me that the course co-ordinator (whom, I think, still forgets that they are no teaching a class of primary children when they deliver any kind of talk) is apparently very impressed with me… something about “intuitive” questions (and “insightful”, I think, or was it “relevant” – as usual, when faced with any sort of compliment, I turn bashful and my brain shuts off all cognitive faculties so as not to let my ego cotton on to what’s going on). I’m not sure how I get away with these things, but there y’go… intuitive questions, huh? I wonder what that actually means?

And now to go away an obsess about how much I do or don’t know ready for tomorow.

*sigh*

2006
09/28

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Teaching

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Another day, another lecture

Today was a college day (we’re on the “one day per fortnight” routine, now) with a fascinating lecture on counting (and how hard it is to teach) from KD in the morning and then another fun and interesting one on how children learn DR in the afternoon.

Apparently counting is actually rather hard to teach, because it’s hard to imagine not being able to count. So, for example, how can you imagine how a pupil feels who struggles to remember which way around to draw a “3”? Well, it turns out that a reasonable way is to have someone make you learn a new set of (patternless) names and symbols for representing the digits 0 through 9 in about two minutes, then test you on them. I, for one, got at least one symbol upside down… which does engender some form of sympathy with children having similar problems learning our own (patternless) numerical symbology.

The afternoon kicked off in a most depressing way – with a video from a Panorama report of 1999 regarding children who have, to all intents and purposes, disappeared from the educational system. There was a happy ending, though, as we considered just how important it was (in terms of learning, at least) to have safe, stable relationships with adults (read: teachers, at least).

A great day of lectures – I’m really starting to feel like I’m getting a handle on things.

*sigh*

Book Review (the first of many, hopefully) – The Language of Discipline

Finally waded through my first non-fiction book (completely, as in all of, as in from start to finish) in… let’s see… um… ages. Definitely months. Almost certainly years.

I read a classroom behaviour management tome by Bill Rogers, “The Language of Discipline: Practical Approach to Classroom Management“; and a fine book it was, too. It wasn’t all rocket science, by any means, in fact there were several parts which, as a parent, rang very familiar indeed. But even those ideas were expanded upon to make them relevant to a “whole class” scenario. Thoroughly recommended.

As a footnote, I’m starting “How Children Fail” by John Holt; so far, so depressing. All I’m being told in the opening pages is how many ways children have of pretending to learn wihtout actually learning. Way to go!

*sigh*

2006
09/24

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Teaching

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Residential Round-up

What can I say, except that I am obviously not a Knerps!*

Just come back from a three day residential with class 5 (a mixture of year 6 and 5) in Northumberland. What a fantastic experience!

For starters, I now know another class (at least by first name) so that’s 40% of the school covered. But mostly it was just a masterclass on how to organise; a trip, children, etc. The whole thing went of smoothly enough, no-one was actually travel sick (for which relief much thanks) and the few that were homesick were just that: few (and homesick, yes).

On the way up from Nottingham we called in at Beamish for a few hours. Most enjoyable, if utterly unrelated to the rest of the trip, and where I learned a golden rule of residential trips – don’t let the children spend all of the day’s money in the sweet shop! Thankfully nobody actually made themselves sick, as I’d been labelled person most likely to help clear up given that it was my group that had (by far) the most sweets.

The main part of the residential was based from the Once Brewed Youth Hostel – very nice, food very good – we called in at the Roman Army Museum and then Vindolanda and finally, next day, to Housesteads for a stretch along Hadrian’s Wall. But the highlight had to be a presentation by Jeff (of Jeff’s Roman Experience) – words cannot adequately describe how much fun this was, nor how much the children got out of it. Seriously, if you haven’t seen him and you intend to take school children there for an educational visit, contact the guy.

Then heading back to Nottinham, exhausted.

* For which you have to understand that there was a marketing slogan, a long time ago, for Knerps umbrellas along the lines of “you can’t k-nacker a k-nerps”. Sorry.

Post Collegial Blues

A couple of days of lectures ended the week nicely. A bit more on planning (which, actually, did help – and provided some useful outlines on what to put in a lesson plan), followed by what was possibly the most tedious ICT lecture I’ve ever had the misfortune to attend (and stuggle to remain awake for). At the risk of appearing in any way to be suffering from “professional snobishness” the lecturer was a classic case of the self-taught “expert”, ie they’d dabble with computers from when they first hit mainstream, then his initial interests and requirements had been met by various bits of software… which they still use. For starters, having a presentation prepared on Microsoft Word (as opposed to, say, Microsoft PowerPoint) and not even neatly paginated, to boot! I mean, I ask you!

Friday’s lectures more than made up for the drab end to Thursday, however, with an introduction to a series on numeracy by a truly inspiring lecturer – honestly, we all had fun doing some fairly elementary mathematical games. Well, I was inspired and that’s what counts most for me. Then our final behaviour management lecture (a series I’ve enjoyed and which I find especially relevant given the “challenging” nature of some of the pupils in my clas) and a rather fun (more of a workshop than a lecture) session on voice management rounded us off nicely.

Ready for next week? Not ‘alf!

Progressions

Oh… where to start… where to start?

Well, I guess the very beginning is a popular place to start 🙂

Following a couple of INSET days (in which, amongst other things, we constructed a “snow den”, for two small children to use, out of some bin bags, a bag of old newspaper and a roll of sellotape), we had some initial training in college. This included a cracking session on “Design and Technology” which culminated in a practical session using cardboard to build various mechanisms along with several introductory sessions on planning, behaviour management and what to expect from the primary experience as a whole.

Then, after a weekend to recuperate (hah!) it was time for some actual classroom experience. Monday was… let’s call it entertaining. I’m training in a class that’s… well… let me quote my head (and GTP mentor) when I call them “squirmy”. But I’m getting my head around things, slowly. I think I’ve managed to learn all of the children’s names, now (first name, at least) and I’m starting to get a firm grasp of the challenges ahead – now all I need is a little more of a grasp on the strategies I can use to meet those challenges 🙂

Three days in school and we’re back in college for a break… *ahem*… for further training. More news from there over the weekend (hopefully).

2006
09/05

Category:
Teaching

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Hi-ho, hi-ho

…it’s off to teach I go.

So – first day in the new job. A fun day – just an INSET day, I’ve not been let loose on any children yet – but fun nevertheless. I guess the highlight would be building a “snow den” out of newspaper, bin bags and sellotape, but I also began to get glimpses of understanding of the scope of the task ahead of me. Scared? Absolutely… but in a good way, and getting less.

Watch this space, I guess.