Friday, 7 February 2014

A month back in mainstream....

Stricken with flu as I am I cannot stop my brain working so in a bid to calm it down I said a while ago I would blog about my first month back in mainstream after nearly 4 years in the special education sector. So this will be a bit of a brain dump but maybe someone will come back to me with some practical suggestions which won't involve me reading a book - I haven't got time!

Overall it is definitely the right decision to move back. I have noticed I am calmer at home, less anxious, tearful and not so exhausted. That's not to say I'm not working a lot of hours, or that the job is any less's just less physical to start with! So a big plus to start with as I am generally looking and feeling better, I may even have lost a few pounds....

I've taken on some really difficult classes, a mixture of middle - low set Key Stage 4 for whom science is a genuine struggle, and some Key Stage 3 who were never really sorted by their previous teacher and allowed to run riot. None of the group's behaviour is acceptable in my mind though a couple are getting there, so I am still working on basic classroom routines and expectations both of work and behaviour. I really want them to work in their lessons to the best of their ability and some are really starting to try much harder. I've got the 'nemesis group' like everyone else which will take longer...but the school are happy with the improvement so far so I guess I have to start worrying about it.
I'm sure if I stay put, stay consistent and keep applying the school behaviour system it will get better in time. 

I want to change the universe, but I can't in a month....give it a year!

What I had forgotten was all the routines and marking. The main one I'm struggling with if I'm honest is homework. Coming from the special sector where homework is kind of 'left' and not concerned with (as to be honest it's better that they actually come to school in the first place and attend lessons!)
I'm finding myself in that classic situation where I set homework then forget to collect it. Or forget to set it as I'm caught up in the
Now I'm sure in time I will get better at this, I've drawn up a timetable I just need to learn it and start to identify those that are simply not doing their homework.  How do other teachers do it? Do you have a folder for each class? An in-tray? How do you manage this influx of paper!

The other thing that has surprised me is how slow some of the kids work....I got more out of some of my BESD boys than some of my middle ability Year 10 and 11 do now. Now I'm sure this is an expectations thing and they will pick up the pace eventually (kicking and screaming) but it's really eye opening for me. Linked in with this is the apparent 'spoon feeding' they have been exposed to. Many are far too reliant on me which is a sign of their insecurities and I am battling with them to become more independent over time. There is a lot of apathy towards science, because in the kid's own words "It's effort" so I am trying to make it easier for them which is proving tough as they are not willing to try. I get so frustrated with them because if they actually tried they could do it. I know I shouldn't get frustrated but I do....I'm hoping that in time Year 9 and 10 may come round, it's back to that whole change the world thing again isn't it?!

I've also forgotten what it is like to have a tutor group. The one I have inherited are great actually, they seem to have taken to me in the most part but getting them to complete the provided activities is proving tough as they just want to sit and chat....

I did my first observation of another teacher at my new job this week. I was pretty confident with my judgement as was the member of SLT who joined me but what I struggled with was the justification which made me nervous, I really felt put on the spot and need to trust myself more. I know the Ofsted definitions of lessons inside and out but I rely on my guts, that gut feeling you get when it is a good lesson, or not. What I need to do is work on is my questioning of the kids within the lessons when carrying out an observation which will come with time and how to use the data effectively.

I also had an observation myself which, I hope was good. I'm sure I will find out in due course. 

After half term we have a student teacher starting too and I am to be her mentor. I'm really looking forward to doing it and as well as being good for them I hope it is good for me too. It will give me chance to work on my lesson obseration skills as well as my feedback skills.

If I could write a list of things I think would help it would go like this: 

  • Resources for making science seem easier for middle ability kids without being 'babyish'. 
  • Ideas for helping middle set Year 10/11 become more confident, independent individuals and encourage them to revise and actually care about their science GCSEs
  • Resources for 6 mark question marking for Core and Additional Science (and other exam technique ideas really) to help them know how to answer exam questions
  • Ideas for marking quickly but effectively including homework
  • 2 inspiring science displays and other nice things to go on the walls (to hide the fading paint and make the place look nice) 
  • Bits and pieces to try with my tutor group, ideally literacy/numeracy based but could be pictures to stimulate discussion, news, just ways to use their time more effectively.  
  • Ways to keep Year 7 in their seats which do not involve Superglue or bungee cords :)
  • Anything to do with the new Key Stage 3 curriculum development. I've got some ideas but don't want to reinvent the wheel so to speak. 

 So over to you Twitter folk. Any ideas gratefully received though I fully appreciate there are no quick fixes and I need to keep on keeping on.

Who knows? Maybe I will change my own little universe bit by bit. :)

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