So it’s finally half term! As happy as I am to see it, because I am so exhausted, I am also really sad that it has arrived. Friday was my last day at my first placement school, and I am not ashamed to say that there were a great deal of tears.
But before we tackle that last day, let’s go back a couple of weeks and relive the highs and lows of my last couple of weeks on placement.
My brain is still a mush, and I spent the last 2 weeks wondering what I’d even planned for each lesson and pupils were reminding me to collect in homework, because I had forgotten I had even set it. I’m going to put this down to exhaustion as the first few weeks were so busy with all my observations and I never really recovered. I’m going to make a concious effort to use my planner more and draft up a homework/marking schedule at my second placement so I avoid this happening again! Some nights I was taking home 50+ books to mark!!!
I don’t think this showed TOO much though, as I got my review back on Friday and got another Very Good! I am so pleased with this, as I’ve sometimes felt like I was drowning this half term, but all the hard work has paid off!
Aside from that, the only ‘out of the ordinary’ thing to happen was my observations of E – a Polish student who speaks almost no English. The local council have suggested total immersion as the strategy to better his English, so I spent some time with him in English lessons and in Maths. It was a huge eye-opener for me, especially in English where they had no additional support for him or any of the rest of the class. This meant that the teacher sat opposite E for the whole lesson, talked to the class and set them a task and then spent the rest of the lesson with E, going through the basic vocabulary he needed for the lesson. This was detrimental to both parties really, as the rest of the class got bored and had little support through the task, then began to misbehave… then while the teacher dealt with this, E had nothing to do and looked entirely bemused. By all accounts, his English has greatly improved since a few weeks ago and so hopefully by the end of next half term this will no longer be so much of an issue.
Maths was an entirely different kettle of fish. I was given the opportunity to help E 1:1 in this lesson, and I was surprised at his level of understanding, both of me and the subject. Once we had found a translation of ‘symmetry’in his English to Polish dictionary and began to explain it as being ‘the same’ on both sides of a line of reflection he began to soar. I was able to give him praise and prompts where needed, but he often told me ‘I understand, I am just thinking!’ I think the praise was the main thing that was beneficial for him, as he smiled more than I had seen at all in English and around school just when I wrote ‘excellent’ or a smiley face on his page. E had a great number of comments in his planner for lack of effort, but this is just due to lack of understanding of instructions, and so I think this praise really boosted him that day. I hope his English speaking and understanding soon improves, because his mathematical ability places him in a much higher set than he is in at present.
On to the last day then. I’ve absolutely adored every minute of being at my first placement school; I have made some wonderful friends and taught some wonderful students. It has been everything I hoped it would be and more. So leaving was difficult enough as it was…
I wanted to show the department any my host teachers my gratitude so ordered in some lovely handmade gifts courtesy of a friend, and the some cakes from Betty’s!
I thought I would be able to hold it together (who was I kidding!?) but as I taught each of my last lessons and got more and more cards, it got harder to do. At lunch, I opened my card off Year 8…
Now for this to make sense you need to understand how I explain my success criteria for a lesson. It looks something like this:
I’ve seen lots of variations of this slide, many using expected grades or ‘Must, Should, Could’/’All, Most, Some’ etc. But I find them quite off-putting for students, it suggests a ranking in the classroom and I want all my students to aim for the highest they can. I think framing it in this way is less derogatory for students that may not reach the ‘Roof’ criteria, because I’ve made it clear from day 1 that the foundations are the important part – we need to be able to do these bits first, or the whole house crumbles around our ears very quickly. (I also like that if they get onto the extension task, its like a little conservatory on the house…) Anyway, that’s another post for another time!
So I opened my Year 8 card, and was quite emotional about all the messages. Then this one tipped me right over the edge.
I think this is the loveliest message I have ever received. It showed me how much of an impact I am making, and I sobbed and sobbed…. (Until a Year 10 came for help about their homework, and I had to quickly pull myself together!)
It was an incredibly emotional day, but I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to work at such a wonderful place with such amazing people. I feel so blessed and so loved.
So now its half term, and I have had a pizza to celebrate and 2 gloriously long sleeps.
I have to write my second assignment this week/start it, before the madness of Placement 2 starts, and I have a day at uni on Friday. Apart from that I will be trying to chill out and see some old friends. I might even get chance to speak to my boyfriend for a change!
I’m also going to have a think about my main aims for placement 2, some ‘New Placement Resolutions’ of sorts, and I’ll write a blog about them later in the week.
I hope everyone else is doing OK, and you all have a wonderful half term. 🙂 Rest up!