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I’m thinking I’ll start posting thoughts, news and/or progress from my teacher training here. So, who knows, it may almost be worth reading again… nah.
I survived! Yay!Actually, it all went rather well, in the end. The lesson itself was much smoother than last week and in other areas my work seems to be okay, too.My link tutor was, I think, rather impressed with the lesson content (she actually said she’d normally have tackled that sort of thing with Y6 pupils) and noted that I’d successfully explained the objectives and had challenged the higher ability children as well as keeping the others engaged… and also complemented me on my burgeoning class management skills (sink or swim does work as a learning strategy, y’see).All of my notes and files are okay, although I need to start evaluating/reflecting on my own lessons (something I’ve been doing orally with my class teacher and mentor, but needs to be written in some form) and collecting the various bits of evidence that I’ve actually done all that I’m supposed to (which apparently consists of me getting staff to outline and sign bits of paper).So I’m pretty happy, all in all 🙂
Wow, what a week!First off we had parents’ evenings on Monday and Tuesday (for which I opted to attend, and even managed to throw in a few comments and suggestions here and there… maybe some were even helpful!) which got us off to a lovely tiring start to the week. Actually, it was quite interesting (only a couple of awkward points where parents don’t accept that their little angel might actually be a right unruly little so-and-so in school) and definitely beneficial, in terms of experience and training.On top of that we were involved in a (you may have guessed this from the title) “business enterprise week” which, for us, meant that we had some Y8 pupils from a local secondary school (with a “commerce and enterprise” focus) in to help with designing/building some calendars. Tail end of last week actually saw me walking around Bramcote with four pupils, taking snapshots of various landmarks in preparation. Then most of this week’s literacy… and some numeracy… and pretty much any other lesson… was taken up with turning those into a calendar. Actually, in fairness, we made two calendars, but the class market research (a questionnaire was created and peddled around school) favoured the Bramcote theme.Then, this afternoon, we took part in the final stage of the “BEW” which was a little competition of sorts with a number of other primary schools who had also been taking part. I took along four pupils to represent the school who had to give a short presentation of the calendar, why we made it the way we did, etc. Then there was a short “buying and selling” game where half the team went of to spend a virtual £100 buying other calendars and the other take orders on our calendars. Bargaining was encouraged.Net result? We won… because we managed to sell a number of calendars yet still keep to within 82% of the RRP – other teams sold more, but made offers which meant that they were operating at less of a (theoretical, nominal) profit.Yippee! Funnily enough, the pupils were rather chuffed and may even get their pictures in the local rags. And I? I got a “Head Teacher’s Award” sticker from AO for my efforts. *grin*
So, after a full week (for me, that is… taught 4 lessons over the week – it’ll be 6 next week) in school, I went and sat my QTS skills test. These are the only tests per se that I’ll have to sit to qualify as a teacher and… well… frankly I felt almost insulted!The three tests can only be booked at hourly intervals, the numeracy test is 48 minutes, the literacy 44 minutes and the ICT 35 minutes. Ultimately I walked out with 3 passes after about an hour.The numeracy starts off with 12 timed mental calculations (something like 18 seconds per question), followed by another 16 questions (40 minutes, ish, but you can answer the questions in any order).The literacy test starts off with a spelling test (all the tests are computer based and speak the words to you) and then the rest of the test is based around an extract (in this case from a report on an “alternative” curriculum – a skills based one – and its pilot scheme) and tests comprehension, etc.The ICT test is a very simple test of basic computer literacy – can you send an email, format a document, re-sort data in a database.So that’s that. Job done. But I can’t help but feel almost cheated at how quickly and painlessly it all went past.*sigh*The week in school went well, thankfully. I took my first literacy lesson (*gulp*) – two more next week – and survived. Literacy is the subject I feel most scared about – it’s just such a “wide open” subject to teach… I just have to keep remembering to refer to the medium term plans to know how to constrain each week and/or lesson. I’m definitely getting there, ‘though. And still loving it.G’nite.
As a kind of sequel to “How Children Learn”, John Holt’s “How Children Learn” is another wonderful reminder of how children are, by nature, learning machines. They want to learn. They live to learn. All we have to do is be careful not to drum it out of them in school.Again, an annotated collection of memos and journal entries, this takes us through a later period of Holt’s life – after he’s had much more experience running a scheme to assist parents in home-schooling their children – but no less fascinating. Again, Holt reminds us that children do wasnt to learn but that the worst we can do is to try and force that education on them – letting them elect to learn is the best way. Admittedly, this doesn’t always fit in a school setting (I’m reminded of a pupil of mine who keeps wanting to read her book during lessons in which she thinks she’s already suitably qualified) but nevertheless it’s a wonderful read and inspirational, to boot.Again, read it.
Just a quick post (by way of a slight brag) as I had a cracking literacy lesson today… we’re in the midst of a sequence on “The Charge of the Light Brigade” as an example of narrative poetry and I’m taking the class through creating a summary of the poem, so that they get a feel for what the story behind the poem actually is.We got to the point where “theirs not to make reply/theirs not to reason why/theirs but to do and die” and I was trying to explain the whole “do or die” concept… and struggling a little… when I was struck by a rather odd thought… taking a deep breath I tentatively asked “who remembers that part in the second Star Wars film (episode 5) on Dagoba in the swamp with Luke and Yoda” and went on to talk about when Yoda basically says “don’t try… do or do not” – and it worked! Pretty much everybody knew what I was talking about (with the exception, perhaps of my class teacher, who was rapidly reconsidering all the nice things she’d ever written about me) and we moved on.But I finished the day on a complete high – not only had I managed to explain the poem to them, but I’d done it using Yoda! I even threw in a (lame) Yoda impression (always one to push my luck) when getting them to put their books away at the end… it was also well received.*sigh*
So here it is, “Merry Christmas”… and that’s one term down and two to go. I’m shattered, but in a good way trust me.The school production took up the great majority of the final few weeks – lessons were fit around rehearsals, although the sequence on “The Charge of the Light Brigade” that I’d been working on was squeezed in a fair bit (along with a few maths lessons on negative numbers to be sure that the children had met their targets for the term) with the odd ICT lesson on posters and presentations.It’s so hard to know what to say, here. The situation has changed so much since I started, that I’m not totally sure which way is up any more. I’m petrified at the thought of qualifying, yet desperately concerned that I’ll never be ready and so won’t pass muster when it comes to assessment time. (This was mitigated to some extent when my mentor assured me that he still wasn’t convinced he’d ever be ready by the half-term in the summer term of his PGCE training).This has been a wonderful first term – the school is excellent, the staff supportive and helpful and the children… well, most of the time they’re lovely, too.Now, next term, I just have to get my head around all of the paperwork hoops through which I need to jump in order to qualify! Wish me luck… eep.
“Not all societies adopt 10 as the base for their numerical calculations. Saxe (1981) for example, cites a system used by the Oksapmin of Papua New Guinea which is based, not simply on counting fingers, but on many body parts (such as elbows) which are used according to a convention governing the sequence for counting (i.e. to provide a model) which goes from 1 to 27. When exposed to an imported currency system (based on 20 shillings to the pound, the Oksapmin adapted their system to create a base 20 counting system which utilized only the first 20 elements of their original one.”David Wood, How Children Think and Learn (2nd Edition)
A bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve not strictly finished reading it… but I’ve been finding it so useful that I’ve actually returned the library copy and bought Formative Assessment in Action: Weaving the Elements Together, by Shirley Clarke, for myself.It’s a wonderful book, demonstrating how to go about personalising learning for children (i.e. tailoring the meat of your lessons to their interests and needs) whilst still meeting the curriculum.The book covers a whole plethora of strategies to use, from talk partners to questioning styles, through how to set “decontextualised” (ugh!) learning objectives (which, from my perspective as an ex-computer programmer, means “abstracted” – so the LO for the lesson isn’t tied directly into the current topic in the children’s minds) and success criteria, to self-assessment and even peer-assessment where the children learn, are able and profit from marking their own and others’ work.Funnily enough, it’s not straightforward – but it is worthwhile. We’ve been using elements of it at my school, especially in literacy, this year (helped largely by the interests and leanings of the new head – an educational consultant in literacy in his previous role) – and the results have been excellent! The children are all thoroughly enjoying literacy, with some excellent work coming out of (very nearly) all the children – even the ones who, traditionally, haven’t given their all to the subject.All in all, thoroughly recommended.
Today was a definite milestone.I’d asked my class teacher to assist in a particular part of the lesson as I’d had to miss a staff meeting the other week where our head (a literacy consultant in his previous life) was demonstrating a particular technique for getting children to think about what they’re writing (he has them wear one of two hats – a “reader” and a “writer” hat – according to what they’re currently doing, and then gradually gets them to merge the roles until the children become aware that they need to wear both hats at the same time, really, as they work).Although my class teacher had tried to explain it through for me, I wasn’t sure enough to stand up and try and teach it.But, for the first time that I can remember, as I was watching them teach I realised I was also evaluating it and thinking how I’d have built on that, done it differently, and generally made it in some small, way, “mine”. It’s kind’f a nice feeling, to be aware that I’m starting to evaluate other teachers in that way and not just “soaking up” the experience.*grin* A good day.
Gaaaaagh! Have finally (all but) waded through one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to read. Wood’s How Children Think and Learn was the driest, most densely written texts I’ve ever had the misfortune to wade through. It was on our “recommended reading” list so I figured I’d give it a go… after the first chapter or so it became a matter of pride that I would finish the damn book! I’m glad I did, as it not only produced that wonderful quote about tribes in Papua New Guinea having a base 27 counting system but finally had some useful information (in the final chapter, wouldn’t you just know it) for my assignment. But… at the risk of repeating myself… gaaaaagh!I was eventually reading it section by section (no more than a few pages at a time) of an evening as I sat outside Ted’s room while he settled. The last time I had to work so hard to read a book was for my OU studies (and that was Wide Sargasso Sea, if you’re interested in knowing another book that I’d thoroughly recommend you avoid if don’t absolutely have to read it).Still – I did finish, and it did contain some useful information. *phew*
Or should that be “half-term”? Both, I guess as this marks the half-way point of my! Eep! Where has the time flown? (Don’t answer – that’s a rhetorical question).And so concludes the first part of my training. After half-term I’m working in an infants school (year 2) for four weeks, to fulfill the twin DfES requirement to have experience of two key stages (predominantly KS2 at my main school, KS1 in my second placement) and of two different schools.It’s been a roller-coaster of a start to a new career… and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m certainly not going back to office life (dull dull dull). There is a certain amount of trepidation regarding the second placement (being among the “little people” for starters) with the school being so much bigger (9 classes of just infants compared to my main school which has 5 classes for the entire primary school), but I’m continually being reassured by the staff at my main school that I’m doing fine and will continue to do fine.So that’s nice.As a final “icing on the cake” moment, a few of my children had spent quite an amount of time – I’ve been aware they were working on something for the last few weeks in their playtimes – on a presentation, which was duly played at the beginning of my last lesson with them on Thursday. 41 slides!Not quite “The Return of the King” (thankfully significantly less than the 251 minutes of the extended edition) but not a bad effort for a trio of 9-10 year-olds – obviously the sequence of work we did on multimedia (working up from posters to presentations) did pay off to some extent.*sigh*
Bizarre feeling – I had a day off. During term time.Thankfully, my boss was understanding (and being the trainee in the class helps, as my presence won’t be missed as much plus there’s no need to arrange cover) and I was not in school for the last day of the half term.Instead, I was at the wedding of an old school friend (one of my oldest friends, seeing as I’ve known him since 1982) Jim to his long-term partner Jess, down in London. A lovely ceremony at the Old Marylebone Town Hall followed by a fabulous reception at the Amadeus Centre and a fabulous day for all (I trust). Photos from the day are up here.To cap it off, three excellent, funny speeches from the father of the bride, Jim himself and (one third of the best man triumvirate) Bod – our best man back in 1998 and another of the same class of 1982.Cheers all – and let’s have one more toast to Jess and Jim… ladies and gentlemen; the bride and groom!
Well, that was the week that was… interesting. And a little, um, rushed.It all started well, with an “inset” on Monday which saw me once more assuming a default position – in front of a computer! Tuesday went relatively smoothly – I had to cover story time at the end of the day, which went well (discipline is a lot easier at this level).Wednesday was in college; a truly depressing lecture on applying for jobs. Basically, I need to be applying now and, in Nottinghamshire at least, the competition level will be high with some applicants being last year’s batch of NQTs. Eep!Thursday started well enough, the literacy lesson was okay (I missed out a section, but the children won’t know as we covered it all in the plenary anyway) but the day ended with a particularly dreadful migraine. Ugh!Friday was okay, I guess, with me actually managing to see my class teacher teach all morning before I then led the next literacy lesson and a further story time in the afternoon (as my class teacher had a review to attend in her role as SENCo).So next week the fun begins in earnest!
Wow-ee! What a week! I feel confident in saying that even tho’ it is only Thursday.For starters, my class teachers has a little boy (who incidentally, as it turns out, managed to poke himself in the eye with his drinks beaker on Thursday with sufficient force to draw blood and to warrant a three hour stop in ED) who had been very poorly all weekend, so when their GP said to take him back to hospital, in case of further complications following his bang in the eye, she understandably went with him.Which, of course, left me high and dry!Thankfully, cover was found for the morning as we had an off-site activity (planting at a local park with the “Streetwise” council group), but it meant I had to lead the afternoon again (thankfully ICT and a story time) on my tod. Ah well – all good experience.Turns out the little fella has gastro-enteritis (and a fairly bad bout, by the sounds of it) so my class teacher duly turned up again on Tuesday morning, back to a normal routine, so I got to observe an RE lesson and a literacy session on riddles (at Y2 they aren’t very difficult, don’t worry) then lead the afternoon for mathematics and another story time (yup, plenty of them, which is nice).Wednesday was interesting again, however, as my class teacher’s husband duly caught a dose of said g-e from their “little darling” which meant that my mentor (the head) had to take the morning session, then observe me teaching literacy after the break! Joy, oh joy! After feedback (best summarised with her quote “don’t get me wrong, it was good – but we can make it very good”) I then led science – an investigation into forces and movement – and my first ever “show and tell” (which was scary, but I escaped with only minimal maulings, thankfully).This morning, still no class teacher – so the head once again stepped in and led the class in PE, then thankfully arranged for another teacher to come and assist for the rest of the morning (numeracy then break, followed by literacy).*phew*I was due to be “non-contact”this afternoon, which I had hoped to use for writing some of the assignment which is due in just under a fortnight, but after a quick meeting with my mentor I was “persuaded” to stay on the premises and catch up with the heaps of paperwork (lesson reflections, planning for tomorrow, etc) in which I had fallen behind.The meeting wasn’t bad – my mentor was concerned that I was lagging with the paperwork, feeling unsupported and generally having a miserable second placement. Thankfully I was able to then state my position and between us I think we both left the meeting content that the situation wasn’t as bad as she might have feared.I was able to mollify her further by pointing out that I knew I must have done better today as two of the children in my class came and gave me a hug at lunch time.*sigh*
…was thankfully confirmed a daylight and not the headlight of the an oncoming train.Yesterday I endured a rather gruelling all day interview (I say “all day”, in fact it was activities all morning followed by a formal interview after lunch… but it was gruelling) I finally got myself a job for next year (a year 4 teacher at “Robert Mellors Primary” in Arnold, Nottingham) and then today after a gruelling morning I also qualified as a teacher, so I can actually take the job I was offered yesterday.Yay me!Hopefully, normal service should now be resumed 🙂
So… here I am in the middle of the much-touted six week school holidays.*yay*And I’m back at the old company for the middle four weeks, to top up the old coffers (and hopefully finally afford that Nintendo Wii that I’ve had my eye on) and have some good old programming fun.*sigh*Turns out teaching is a much better profession for me – frankly, I’m bored. I won’t be a complete ass and wonder how/why I did what I did for so long (13 years or so) – it made sense at the time and that’s pretty much all that matters, “inna final analysis”.But by criminy I’m so looking forward to September by comparison! At my new school, each term is going planned from a single topic (chosen by the children) and for the first term it’s a literacy-based topic. The children chose… Harry Potter! Whee! So I get to teach a term of stuff derived from Potter books… and they pay me for it!*grin*
Just a brief post (from out of the resounding silence that has accompanied my first term as an NQT – this is a reflection on the amount of work that I’m actually having to do… teachers? work? what’s that all about?) to point out that some of you may have heard my school in the press over the last couple of days, or even seen me on the BBC news!Yup, we’ve had reporters in over the last couple of days – the segment that was shown on the 6 o’clock news yesterday accompanies this BBC article. We also had articles in the Nottingham Evening Post (which is what started the media circus), The Times and the Daily Mail and were on Radio 4 and 5 live at some point yesterday. (Not to mention local ITN news and, apparently, Sky news – although I can’t find links for them).Today, to add to the chaos, we had Newsround in today and there was a segment this evening (some clips are on the site, but not of my class) – there was also an American reporter from a US magazine – Time or Times? Something like that. The head has been receiving calls from all over the world, she tells us.And tomorrow, to help the children settle, is Children in Need day – so we all get to wear our pyjamas all day.*sigh*
Been more than a little busy recently, but have to share a couple of incidents…Firstly, I was stopped the other afternoon by one of the mums. “Excuse me, ” she said, “but do you have a minute?” Naturally, I did. “My daughter tells me that you’ve completed Zelda on the DS?” she continued, “and I’m stuck. I’m on the third trip into the Ocean King’s temple and I’m stuck on how to transfer the seal to the map.”Thankfully, I could recall the answer to that one on short notice. So, today she was back asking about another section on the ghost ship. That one took a little thinking – she ended up bringing her DS in to class so I could see exactly which part it was.Think I may have made a friend, there.On a different note (pun intended) our school has been running a sort of “Britain’s Got Talent” competition over the last couple of weeks and today was the grand final. They needed a short “filler” spot, so my head decided (in her usual wisdom) that the staff could perform a short “Grease” medley. It fell to me to be Danny for “Summer Nights” and that all seemed to be going okay.Then, today, in our dress rehearsal I not only came in too soon (which threw both myself and “Sandy” off for the first verse) but then, instead of singing “she was good, you know what I mean” I sadly omitted the initial “s” and loudly and clearly sang that “he was good…”.Oh how we laughed. Asked by one of the TAs later whether there was anything I felt I needed to say by way of explanation, I merely replied that I felt that I had stated my position quite clearly the first time.*sigh*
Former professional developer, now a Computer Science/ICT teacher. Still a geek.
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