Placement Week Two

Week two has ended and week has three begun (but we’ll ignore that and pretend I’m on top of my updates!) When people say this year flies by they aren’t exaggerating. Next week we actually have two days in uni talking about applying for jobs. I still feel like I’m starting out with no clue what I’m doing…who would want to give me a teaching job!?

Anyway, I’ve now settled into my school and have fallen in love with my class. The days are passing smoothly, and I’m starting to feel at ease in our classroom. I’m still terrified that I’m not doing enough paperwork, or haven’t started collecting enough evidence yet, but this week has definitely been easier. It will all come together and I know enough for right now. I may not know everything, but that’s fine. 

The big news this week was that I taught my first lesson on placement. I made it clear to my mentor that behaviour leadership was a worry to me, having spent very little time with upper KS2 (I was sure they would walk all over me). Because of these worries my mentor let me teach a lesson using her planning, so that all I had to focus on was the delivery and behaviour. I knew this was a brilliant idea, but I was terrified. The friday before I’d led a whole class spelling test and wasn’t prepared for the low level disruption across the room. I made silly mistakes like talking over the class, and not waiting until they were silent before continuing.

My mentor gave me some tips before hand and I psyched myself up like I was going into battle…whatever happened I would not accept being ignored or spoken over. I have great respect for everyone in the class, but I would demand the same in return. 

The lesson came (it was on hieroglyphics) and thankfully the class listened. They stopped talking when I tried to get their attention, they had lots to say when I asked questions and they stayed on task. I was thrilled. I even experienced the “shhhhhh she’s waiting for us!” panic moment when the class start to notice you’re standing there waiting silently for their attention…less is definitely more with class control! 

We did have a pencil throwing incident, and I had to move 2 children to different seats but that is to be expected. They had a new teacher and they’re only human. What’s important is that I dealt with it. 

The feedback my mentor gave me left me feeling fantastic and I now have very manageable targets to tackle next time I plan, so I know I’ll only continue to get better. 

This week won’t be so easy as It’s my first assessed week and I’ll be teaching 3 whole class lessons. Once again the fear is setting in, but after the triumph I’ve had, I’m feeling much more positive.

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Placement Week One

Placement has officially begun. I’m one week in and so far I’m surviving…

This week I’ve  mainly been observing and working with small groups to allow me to settle in and get to the know the class (I’m with a fantastic year 5 class). This has been incredibly beneficial but settling in slowly has been difficult for me to get my head round. I’m a worrier by nature and the 4 folders full of paper work that needs to be completed are already weighing on my mind. I’ve been reassured it will all come together, but I can’t help but panic that I won’t be doing enough, and I’ll not find out until the end of my placement! I know this is irrational, and I’m hoping as I get familiar with what’s required I’ll start to relax a little bit more. My mentor has been fantastic at putting me at ease though.

During my observations this week I’ve already seen so many things that I know I want to implement in the future, like working walls. I’m a creative person, and used to naively believe that my classroom would be full of beautiful, elaborate displays to wow the children. However now my opinion on displays has completely changed. What is the point of everything looking pretty if it doesn’t aid the children’s learning? In my class I’ve seen some fantastic working displays where the teacher  has been adding to them throughout the term, following on with what the children are doing in their lesson. There are also interactive displays which the children can use day to day during lessons.  One I particularly liked was a thesaurus wall where the children could come up and take a laminated synonym for words like big, old or small. The class teacher explained that this would help children who are less likely to use thesauruses.

Another great idea I’ve seen is challenges on the working walls. The children come in at the start of the day and choose to either read, or complete a challenge. If they get it right and can explain their process they receive a raffle ticket (the class reward system. Tickets are drawn on a Friday for prizes) There is always a crowd around the maths and literacy challenge in the morning, and by ensuring the children are explaining their thinking the teacher can challenge and develop their understanding of the problem at hand.

Differentiation. This is a scary word that this week has seemed a lot easier to tackle. The class I’m in has no table names (something I hadn’t seen before) and the children are only seated by ability for maths and English. For the rest of the sessions they sit in seats they chose at the beginning of the year. Because of this there is no clear ‘lowers’ table or ‘highers’ table…something I am loving. It may be because I’m new to the class, but I get the sense that the group has a good sense of equality and community, with no one singled out as the low achiever, or the trouble maker. Hopefully this continues!

I am also seeing children being able to select their own challenges, rather then be given different work to do. Obviously this isn’t always possible, but from what I have seen, this can be very effective. For example the children were working on retelling a classic story (Robin Hood) in a comic strip style. All children were working on the same template and to differentiate the teacher told the whole class certain grammatical techniques she would like them to try and include. It was not stated that this challenge was only meant for certain children, so anyone could attempt it. Obviously certain children would not try this in their work, and thus they were able to differentiate themselves, with adults encouraging individuals, based on their attainment level. I really like the idea of children being able to choose their own challenge and take ownership of their learning. I’ve seen very little of this, but what I have experienced has been very positive.

I’m already feeling the stress and fatigue of placement (which I’m sure is showing in this rambly blog post) I’ve been so lucky with the school I’ve been placed in, but there is still so much to get my head!. Next week I have my first meeting with my mentor, I’ll be meeting with my visiting tutor and may even be teaching one afternoon. I have a feeling each week is going to bring new, daunting challenges…I just hope I can keep up.

Katie

Leading by Example

One of my biggest classroom fears has always been behaviour leadership and management. I’m a self confessed push over at times, and have even been told by a year 6 student in the past that “if you’re going to have a class of your own, then you can’t be so nice!”. That’s not to say that classrooms descend into anarchy in my presence, but I certainly know that my current behaviour skills leave a lot to be desired.

We’ve now had our seminar on behaviour leadership and thankfully I already feel much better. We’ve been given some very useful advice, tackled misconceptions about shouting and tried our hand at responding to given scenarios. I now feel like I have an armoury of top behaviour leaderships tips that I can pull out on placement…and will hopefully work!

  • A calm voice is often more effective (and more chilling) then a loud one. Children are likely to hear shouting at home. Don’t add to that!
  • Pick your battles! Being in control doesn’t mean that you squash every ounce of negative behaviour in your classroom. Sometimes an all guns blazing approach just creates more problems. Get to know your pupils and asses whether something is worth dealing with.
  • Have respect for your pupils. Starting with a trusting relationship will show them you care and don’t assume the worst in them. This will (hopefully) encourage a positive relationship between yourself and your pupils and in turn create a better classroom atmosphere.
  • Never stop listening. Before allowing low level disruptions to annoy you, think about why that child may be behaving in that way.
  • Give them a choice. We’ve all heard of those ultimatums disguised as choices “do this or else you’ll miss your break time. It’s your choice!” Well that is not a good way to deal with an issue. It’s negative, aggressive and leaves you with no other options if they still refuse. Give your pupils a real choice if they feel they can’t work in their current situation. Allow them to read a book in another class or move seats. Sometimes being listened to and understood is all they need.
  • Be consistent. If you allow children to call out one minute and then not the next you cannot expect consistent behaviour from them. Set clear expectations and stick to them from the get go.

I know it’s easier to write these ideas down then it is to actually put them into practice, but everyone has to start somewhere! I now have one week left until I start my first placement. One week does not feel like enough time at all, but placement is coming whether I’m ready or not!

Wish me luck.

Katie

 

My future self

Until this point everything has felt manageable. I’d even go as far to say easier then I anticipated, or was warned at least. That was until this week. The wall is now in sight and we are all aware of its inevitability. The only way I know to cope with the mountain of work we are now facing is to remember that it has been done before. I’m sure countless people have had this same feeling of dread and have come out the other side. One week at time is definitely the only way we’ll get through!

Yesterday began with that feeling of being overwhelmed. I was at a point where I didn’t really know if I was ahead or behind with my work anymore. That was until I had a tutorial. We were all talking about our coping strategies, how we were feeling…you know how it works. Then one person chimed in with such an insightful way to look at things. She said…

“I’m not stressed because I know my future self will deal”.

Sometimes you hear something that just turns your whole way of thinking on it’s head. I don’t think I give my future self enough credit because I spend my time planning for every eventuality and making sure I’m ahead. I’m not sure what I think will happen or what disaster I’m planning to avoid, but I’m certainly not a “It will be alright on the night” kind of person. But, this did put my stress into perspective. I will deal too. If my past self is anything to go by, my future self will be able to tackle whatever is thrown at her.

This realisation doesn’t mean that I’ll be slacking because my future self will pick up the pieces at some point. I still need to continue doing what I’m doing and making sure everything is put in place for the future, but I don’t need to know how I’ll achieve everything. I don’t need to know how one day I’ll tackle organising a Christmas play, or plan for every individual in my class, or even how I’ll cope with that one child who will inevitably test my patience and behaviour leadership skills beyond belief. My future self will just deal with it.

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Katie