Week 9 – The First Full Week!

Good Morning! School is closed today because if crazy flooding so I plan to spend the day working on my assignment, hopefully finishing the first draft. But I decided that first, I wanted to have a reflection on last week!

Last week was my first full week on placement, which was very exciting. So far my days in school have really been the highlight of the course, so I’ve really been looking forward to this bit! I won’t lie, it has been tough in some parts but overall I have really enjoyed it.

Monday was my first lesson pretty much entirely solo with Year 10. My mentor is part of the Shanghai Teacher Exchange so was busy with that, which meant my lesson was being ‘observed’ by a cover teacher instead. I was so nervous. I anticipated a whole load of problems, especially with behaviour, as we not only didn’t have Miss H in the room, we also had a room change… I made sure I had a seating plan similar to the one the class were used to and spent my break time making sure all my resources etc were sorted out. It went OK. We were revising plotting graphs with tables of values, which mostly went well… until someone said they didn’t know what 2x meant… We got there in the end and even started talking about the gradient and intercept of the graph, leading to the equation of a line lesson.

It definitely could have gone smoother, I was nervous and it probably showed in the flow of the lesson. But I think it’s helped my relationship with the class as they know what it is like to have JUST me in the room, what is like to be in MY class, and I started to feel like they were mine too.

I also had a starter with Year 8 on substitution that day, where I started them with some numerology so they could do some substitution without really realising it. I won’t go on about it too much, but it went well, and I managed to drop some knowledge on them about Pythagoras and his crazy views of the world too (e.g. did you know that he believed in the transmigration of souls, which led him to be a vegetarian as he once thought the goat he was going to have for tea was actually his best friend who had died weeks earlier? Yes, I know…) I also linked them to the Transum Numerology page to give them more of an idea about it, just for fun at home. Hopefully the history and context inspired them a little!

My lessons with Year 10 have improved across the week, I’ve become more confident with them and started to get to know the class and the pace I should be teaching them. They need things chunked up a lot, which I didn’t do to begin with and resulted in me replanning an entire lesson to practice gradient and intercept with them on Thursday. However, now I know this I’m going to make sure we go things in smaller segments in future. I think my Thursday lesson with them was by best yet, which is great, but also a shame as Miss H wasn’t there to see it again!

I have had some issues with them regarding homework. This week was the first time I have set them a home learning task and for the most part, it was done well or at least with a lot of effort. I knew there were some issues surrounding it because they had vocalised them in class, so I offered my time at lunch and after school KS4 SOS sessions to help them along. Only 2 out of a class of 20 turned up. Those 2 have done fantastically well, funnily enough.

However, there was a group of 3 who had copied from one another, and had identical (wrong) answers. And also a fair few who left a LOT of questions blank. I was absolutely fuming. Having given up my time to help them, I was really upset that they had handed in incomplete work so blatantly. There were also 3 students who didn’t hand anything at all in. So Friday was spent fielding these problems, including giving my first comments and detention! Myself and the Head of Maths had the plagiarisers visit us at break to explain the situation, and I had to have stern words with J about letting the boys copy her work, however well-intentioned.

Next time I see the class I have a DIRT (Directed Improvement Reflection Time) planned on the homework, and those that have not completed the home learning, or completed it to a substandard level will be doing it again.

I was very upset marking it, thinking I had not taught them properly, but if someone in the class can get 35/37 then 11/37 really isn’t acceptable and is a problem with their attitude, not my teaching. I’m not sure if I have been too nice so far, which has resulted in this fiasco with the homework, but hopefully my actions since have proved that I am firm but fair. I will be nice if you work as you should, but if you don’t, I will make you do it again.

Aside from teaching, this week I’ve been going to High School Musical rehearsals, which have been AMAZING. The kids are absolutely great in it, even in these early stages, and I can’t wait to see it all come together some more. Hopefully I’ll be of more use soon too, less sitting and watching and more action!

I’ve also been lucky enough to be able to see some of the Shanghai teachers’ lessons this week. Their style is very different to ours – I think it would give OFSTED a heart attack with the amount of teacher-talk! But I appreciate their methods and their approach to teaching mastery from the off. I think that working in that way means they have to ‘re-cover’ fewer things each year, as students get a depth of understanding we don’t tend to provide in the UK. Achieving this approach in the UK would mean  an overhaul of the entire system across the nation, which is no mean feat. So instead of focussing on a change to the whole system, I’m going to work on bringing this mastery element into my lessons when I can, and perhaps if we all do that, one day we will reach the same point as they are at in China. Who knows.

Last but not least, I’d like to let you all know that as of this week I will officially be the new co-host of #ITTChat on Twitter. Please join us Wednesdays 7-8pm to discuss your course and share ideas. We’re also around during the week to celebrate successes or just to empathise with the huge To Do list, so do tweet us at @ITTChat.

Have a fabulous week! I best get on with this assignment…

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