Placement Wk 5: Christmas Countdown

As this term draws to a close I’ve been reflecting on two very important lessons I’ve¬†learnt about teaching:

  1. My to do list will never ever be completed. There will always be more I think I should or could have squeezed in. Because of this, it’s important I stay focussed on what I have achieved, and not worry too much about what else needs to be done…It’ll happen!
  2. I may never truly feel like I know what I’m doing, but that’s ok. If I’m waiting for that magical moment when I feel like a teacher who has their stuff together I will be disappointed. Despite this I am aware I am now much more qualified then I was as a TA. I’m using things I’ve been taught during lectures on a daily basis, and sometimes I actually feel like I know what I’m doing and why…another thing to be proud of ūüôā

I couldn’t be more excited for two weeks off. This week has been so much fun but incredibly long. Don’t ever underestimate how long a day can feel if the children are just playing with toys and watching films!

This week I tackled the challenge of teaching all morning… right up until lunch time! For me this was a very daunting prospect, having never taught for more then an hour before. I was also aware that the children would be in full christmas hyper mode (a technical term), so behaviour may be slightly more challenging. I wanted to give the children the benefit of the doubt with this (it is christmas after all, who wouldn’t be hyper?) so I wanted to set them up for behaviour success, rather then coming down hard on those that got a little carried away. I did this by trying to be very organised and have everything ready for them with few moments with nothing for them to be doing…and I think I achieved this! Behaviour was great. Noise levels crept up a few times, but if that’s the worst this week has thrown at me then that’s a success in my book.

That lesson we had been learning about persuasive writing. We were going to be decorating christmas biscuits before break time, and then using them as our inspiration for persuasive writing after break, imagining we were trying to market our amazing christmas biscuits. We did this by making advertisements on the laptops, and as an advertising graduate I couldn’t have been more proud of my amazing little class! They all had so many creative ideas, and really ran with the brief. By only criticism is that we could have improved the adverts by planning them first…had this not been a christmas lesson, and instead been a sequence.

DSC_0186 DSC_0184 Our christmas biscuits

I also never imaged how much health and safety was involved with decorating biscuits! We had to check with parents that children were able to eat them in school, we needed a version suitable for non meat eaters (there is gelatine in the marshmallows) and we had some children with supposed chocolate allergies that needed to be double checked. Once this had all been done they had a brilliant lesson and ended up with some very interesting biscuit characters.

I am now thrilled to have two weeks off where I can catch up on sleep, see friends and eat my body weight in christmas food! I’m proud I’ve made it this far, but I hope after a few weeks of relaxing I’ll be able to hit the new year hard and focus on improving my practice even more.

Whatever you’re doing for the next 2 weeks I have you have an amazing time. Also my apologies for a very rambly, incoherent post. Sleep is needed.



Placement Wk 4: Maths Madness

After a successful week of teaching literacy, I went into this week feeling positive. I was apprehensive about teaching maths but I had a secure grasp of the concepts myself and had done well so far.

The night before I finalised my plan and did some more research, to ensure I could stretch my highers with my own knowledge on the subject; prime numbers…This is where the issues began. I was working from my mentors planning, so already had activities for the class. I wanted to make sure I thoroughly understood what they needed to do, but soon found I was struggling to get my head around their task. This threw me completely… After a long evening of panic (and a few desperate calls to a friend)¬†I finally managed to understand what they needed to do, and was able to explain it (or so I thought).

The following morning I decided to voice my worries with my mentor, who was very helpful. She gave me some tips on how she would approach the lesson and I instantly felt better…I could definitely do this, right?

The lesson approached, and it is safe to say I did not crash and burn…but the class did not¬†leave with¬†a dazzling knowledge of prime numbers either. Despite my preparation, and my own confidence in the subject, explaining it to someone else was a different¬†challenge. How do you explain prime numbers adequately, without just saying “prime numbers are numbers that can only be divided by 1 and themselves”? …which I think is about the gist of what I said during that hour.

There were lots of positives to take away from the lesson, but it was certainly my worst so far. This, without a doubt, knocked my confidence and left me feeling terrified to go home and finish planning my lesson on square numbers for the following morning. My mentor had given me excellent feedback, and I knew where I had gone wrong. However what left me feeling worried was that a lot of this came down to me still needing to develop my own understanding of maths. That conceptual understanding I was lacking, made it difficult for me to fully explain something in depth to the class, or know how to allow them to investigate the concept themselves.

Fast forward to square numbers the next day. I took everything on board and thankfully, this lesson was an improvement. It was by no means an outstanding lesson, but I adapted my planning and delivery using my mentors feedback and it showed.

Despite me secretly wanting to be outstanding from the get go (who doesn’t want that?!) This was more of a success then just getting it¬†right first time. By struggling with my lesson I was able to understand something about myself. I¬†know what I was¬†lacking in those lessons, and I¬†can continue to work on that. I still hope to¬†one day be an excellent maths teacher, but¬†I’ve got a long¬†way to go. However, I am¬†so proud of what I’ve already achieved, and as long as I’m improving from lesson to lesson then I’m happy.

This week Christmas chaos is in full swing and I am certainly ready for a break! I have been fighting off a cold and now have a horrible tickly cough that leaves me¬†with embarrassing episodes of coughing fits (perfect when you’re standing up in front of 30 year 5s). I am really hoping this week goes by quickly. I am in desperate need of a break and time to catch up on uni assignments, although I think most of my Christmas will be spend reading up on teaching maths.

At the end of last week we went back to uni for a lecture on applying for jobs. This morning I really cannot quite comprehend someone wanting to employ me, but hopefully a break over Christmas will leave me feeling a little more employable come January. If nothing else, it will leave me feeling human again!

A mathematically challenged Miss

Placement Wk 3: Teaching Poetry

A quarter of my placement has now been completed. I can’t even believe it, but here I am. Surviving, teaching and still socialising. I didn’t expect those three words to go together at this stage in my PGCE…but I’m certainly not complaining.

This week I tackled a sequence of lessons on Cinquain poetry (something I dare say I am now¬†an expert in) It was terrifying, but fantastic seeing the children’s knowledge progress over the lessons, and seeing the finished poems at the end. Definitely a proud teacher moment. I was also thrilled to get great feedback from my mentor… Of course I have lots to work on, it wouldn’t¬†be any other way at this early stage. However there were also lots of positives¬†in my preparation and delivery for me to feel proud about, and that feels like a big achievement.

Anyway, here are a few things I noticed during my week of teaching:

  • When children write up their work in best, you will NEVER have enough sheets. 40 copies? No you’ll probably need more.
  • You can never model enough. Never. You’d expect year 5 to know that they need to put their names on their sheets wouldn’t you… You’d be wrong.
  • If you spend all evening making a really amazing powerpoint you WILL forget to put it on your memory stick and have to stick something under the visualiser, last minute.
  • You know when an activity has run too long, because at least half the class will be wandering aimlessly around the classroom.
  • Never underestimate the chaos that can ensue during¬†an argument about who’s turn it is to be ‘it’ at lunchtime.
  • …and the power of “I’m so disappointed…” Que awkward pause, tears, and¬†disapproving stare.

As always, a new week brings new challenges. This coming week I’ll be teaching two maths lessons on prime and square numbers…yikes. I’m trying to ignore the mathematically anxious student within me to try and stay positive. I can and I will (or maybe I’ll just hide under the desk?)

I’ll leave you with a¬†Cinquain poem…

A maths teacher?
Anxious multiplier,
But what’s the worst that can happen?
We’ll see…