My first full week in school was a bit more of a reality check than the Honeymoon two day teaching week the previous week; teaching is such an emotional commitment that it is this that acts as a drain over the physical exertion of being on form for eight to ten hours of the day. I still find it both frustrating and fascinating that teaching is the one vocation that requires you to be both self assured and self critical at the same time. The career in itself is a walking oxymoron, and yet we are all still here, not only existing but actually enjoying it on occasion.
So what do I need to focus on?
Working smarter. I refuse to believe that in order to excel at this job, I have to work continually or work almost continually with a short coffee break for guilt time. I’m sure everyone has their own personal procrastinations, and mine is simply the act if making a decision during planning time at the moment. I must learn (pronto) to trust my own judgement, and that the sky will not fall in if for any reason the lesson doesn’t quite go to plan. As @veldaelliott told me very early in in my PGCE year, you cannot unlearn a child. Do not believe that your lesson that didn’t work out will in fact ruin that child’s entire education. What a ridiculous thing to think. Ahem…guilty.
I have found it hard to balance your time effectively within school and fit into a new department; everyone is so friendly and I have to remind myself not to hole myself up in my room marking every day once lessons finish. It is important to have that exchange so that you i) don’t lose your marbles and ii) avoid becoming that imaginary NQT that the school was sure that they had employed, but haven’t seen since INSET.
The one thing I have done that works?
I have been trying to work to my marking-in-school motto and so far, so good. I find that I spend less time marking this way- not because of the quality, but because of the focus of only having an hour to get through the pile. By using responsive feedback, I find that the improvement actions for the students are relatively similar so not only do you get through them pretty quick, but it is the only way to ensure that your planning is full informed. To identify learning gaps is the only way to ensure that your planning takes the most effective direction, and I’m working on a fortnightly marking schedule. I truly believe that this is achievable, and that because the students are required to respond to the marking, the skills to do so lend themselves to independence and ownership within the lessons themselves.
Where can I get better?
Knowing my classes. This has been my biggest challenge this week, and I feel that I am not going to be able to teach at the standard that I am happy with until I know every single student’s capabilities. This is especially for my y7 group prior to setting; I have utter respect for a primary school teacher that can plan and deliver lessons for such a range in attainment. In my other classes, there are still students that I feel I have not seen or heard enough from, and that is my focus this week. Te only way I am going to be able to differentiate effectively is if I make it a priority to recognise student’s strengths and how they can assist each other in their learning. So, I’m using the playing card trick. Give every student a playing card on the way in, and they must find a way to contribute in order to hand their card back in. I want to hear every student’s voice this week!
Oh, if anyone has any advice on how to function on seven hours sleep, not turn into a complete recluse and raise a four year old in between, that would be grand. Did Cosmo cover this last month?