Friday, 3 July 2015

Graduation Day and what happened in June

No I haven't been under a rock since May 24th (the date of my last blog post). So much has been happening since half term and getting through my final assessment was the top priority as most of you if not all will agree.

My 80% teaching had been progressing nicely up until the break and I used that momentum to keep going until the assessment. My living room was like a bomb had hit it, with folders, files and paper all strewn across the floor. My life was sleep, wake up, eat, go to school, teach, home, paperwork, eat (possibly watch Netflix) and sleep. This was pretty much for 8 days straight and only left the house to go to Frankie and Benny's and the cinema. This had led me to the conclusion of not leaving it all to the last minute. Not that I did exactly that but there was still a lot to organise, to ensure everything was covered in my standards and that the final claim was written to highlight my best teaching aspects.

Looking back on the past 5 weeks, a lot was achieved. The teaching was constant, I purchased a stamp to aid with marking, was observed by both the Head and Deputy and someone who interviewed me all those months ago. Things are looking positive heading into my NQT year and I am looking forward to being an NQT who already knows the school layout, ethos, most of the children, who to go to for specific advice and just about anything that comes with working at the same place for a 2nd year.

Week Commencing June 1st
I taught my Year 5 class how to hold a debate. The subject in question was 'Should children be able to choose their own lunch menu?'

I put the children into pairs and then grouped them either FOR or AGAINST this argument and in doing so this enabled me to place stronger children with those who are not so confident in their writing or putting an argument together. What I did notice was those who are confident at writing may not always be the most talkative so it gave their partner a chance to open up a conversation and collaborate together. 

On the second day I gave the class time to write some counter arguments, as this would give both sides of the argument a chance to strike up a really interesting debate. 

Consequently, when it did come down to the class being opposite each other with myself as chair in the middle, the children took to debating quite quickly and were able to use evidence from the UN Children's Right's Charter to show both why it should and shouldn’t be voted for. This to me showed that the children were engaged in the learning of how to debate, had taken on board how to counter argue, and that you can’t just make a point, you have to have proof to back it up.

I was also busy bringing the children up one at a time or in groups to discuss their work and the need for them to respond to marking as well as reflecting on the progress made. I believe it is essential children not only acknowledge mistakes made and where they need to improve but they need to act on it sooner rather than later.

Midweek, our Year 5 and 6 cricket team attended a tournament alongside 16 other teams from the area and finished a respectable 2nd in their group. Losing only their 1st match and winning the rest. Once was by 1 run and that was because the children had realised that the fielding and batting need to work well together to ensure runs are made but at the same time the opposition need to be bowled or caught out as many times as possible.

I am proud of the team's spirit and had the winners of our group lost any of their remaining matches it would have gone down to wickets taken and then runs scored. More practice is needed to help both the main coach and myself select players who will work well together and understand the rules better. The beauty of the tournament was that everyone played at least 4 matches and the team rallied round to ensure all felt great during and afterwards.

Week Commencing June 8th
On Monday the link from my lead school and main placement came into see how I was doing and I am glad she did because it meant I received feedback that wasn’t bias towards me becoming a teacher at St Mary’s next year. She said I had planned the lesson well, the starter was appropriate and ensured prior learning was assessed, getting the children to model the Roman numerals for the class to visualise was a good idea because it helped them to remember and my behaviour management was also good.
On Tuesday was Sports Day and it was a fun event. My class had a couple of children away so one of the teams had to do everything twice and still won more points.  In the teachers race I lost out again to someone with longer legs. I had been running a lot better recently and am planning for the Abingdon Marathon in October but Sam (a Year 5 teacher and only other male teacher) beat me by merely a second. 

Introducing a new Science topic was fun because I used a presentation created by another teacher but changed their pictures to show ones of me growing up. This gave the children a chance to work out how old I was at each stage and why they thought it. Using a carousel task in which the children had to write what they thought certain stages of human life meant (and other key vocab), was a good way to assess how much they know already.

Week Commencing June 15th
With it being assessment week it gave me a chance to bring my files to school, select and print children work to add to them plus include any other documents.

Maths took place on Monday and Tuesday and used the NFER test papers and it gave both the teacher I share the class with and I to choose which areas of learning need to be worked on and form the basis of our teaching until the end of the term. Ratio, prime/square/cube numbers, measurements, and the use of estimation, have all been highlighted and I will be using square and cube numbers as part of my final assessment next week.

In my mentor meeting I spoke to about my placing in Year 2 next year and we discussed the things I would like to do in preparation for it. I have not had much experience in this age group but am looking forward to a new challenge and one in which I will get to know a different key stage, be even more familiar with assessing children both formative and summative, work alongside a different set of teachers, and hopefully seem more lucrative and experienced for future employees. Not many men teach in Key Stage 1 and with moderation being a bit part of this crucial year group, I will become well adept at keeping records of everything to give evidence at the end of next year.

Week Commencing June 22nd
It finally arrived and was over in a flash. My files were carefully poured over, notes made, questions asked and discussions made. The final assessment was tiring and hopefully the last time anything like that takes place again. Thankfully I had organised my files in such a way with tabs referencing each standard and included a contents page at the front. This made it easier for the assessor to use and for me to talk about when required.

I was given some good advice about next steps and this helped to form the basis of my NQT needs for next year. Being in a different key stage means I do have to adapt quickly but the school are very supportive and had created a 3 week plan starting on the 29th for me to start with observing Year 2 and seeing the end result of that year group, then for last two weeks will be in Year 1 classes to see where the cohort I am to teach are currently at. My class includes some children I taught in Phonics back in autumn and I always get a nice smile or comment from them. 

Week Commencing June 29th
Year 2 are going to be 3 form entry for the first time and I will be one of 2 NQTs. The other teacher is a highly experienced and skilled practitioner and I magpied as much as I could in the 4 days I was in her class. 

To begin with I was observing her teach and then began to work with small groups and get to known the children and their abilities. In KS1 Topic covers quite a lot of subjects and whilst this will be interesting to see how it all fits in, I am a big believer in cross curricular teaching and this is something that many of my observers have noted I like to do in my lessons. Seaside is the Summer topic and this year they went to Littlehampton where my grandparents live, so hopefully it will be the same next year as I have fond memories there.

The displays are slightly different than that of KS2 and I know that next year the classroom I will be getting is currently the classroom of the children I will take on. This means in my opinion a big change will be needed to both show the children that I am their new teacher and also to show the children that they have grown one year older and therefore a change is also required. Resources will need to be split 3-ways instead of 2 and I am steadily making lists and notes about what I want and where I can source it from.

Finally, today I went to University to receive my QTS certificate, and this was a chance to say hi and bye to people I have seen on many occasions during my time as a trainee teacher. Some I will no doubt see more than others and some probably only during reunions but I have made some firm friendships and despite people saying that teaching is a lonely profession, I believe that friendship doesn't just extend to the staff room but across the whole teaching community.

And there we have it. The final blog post, or is it?....

Thank you for taking the time to read this and any others you may have glanced over. It has been a chance to for me to express myself and allow others to follow me on my new journey. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

PGL- A great way to start half term

Some say PGL stands for Parents Get Lost although the real reason for the name is co-founder Peter Gordon Lawrence and the staff call it Pretty Good Laughs. Regardless of the name the outcome is still the same and I spent the last 3 days of term at the one in Liddington, Swindon. 

Over 40 children and 5 adults (including both my Head and Mentor) embarked on an M4 journey and upon arrival met one of the main organisers who promptly showed us around the main parts of the camp before our Group Leader took over and ensured we went to lunch and filled our hungry bellies.

Mountain Biking and Rock Climbing were first up the group I was in charge of and these were two things I looked forward to, firstly because I currently don't own a bike and secondly I used to rock climb with my old Scout Troop all the time and we even had a permanent wall outside our HQ.

I was super impressed by two of my group because they ascended up the wall quicker than Spiderman would have been able to. There were a few children who needed their confidence boosting and I was able to climb up to a safe distance without a harness and give some words of encouragement. The one thing I do notice about the many residential trips I have worked on is that children are put out of their comfort zone and it takes a lot to come out of their shell.

Our Group Leader from PGL showed us our very own building afterwards and this meant that with the main doors locked only members of staff from my school and students were able to roam. It was extremely safe and even had its own garden area for the children to play football. There are rumours of it being haunted with the ghost of King Edward (name of the house) and an adjoining Conservatory was out of bounds for all, which made it all the more secretive. My room was ground floor, as was my mentor and another adult. Being spread out among the children's rooms meant that we could keep an eye on them and listen out for any shenanigans (which of course there were bound to be, with it being the first time this year group had gone away together). 

During the evening, we were lead to a big field to play something called Wacky Races. Beforehand we were told to wear our clothes in strange ways: back to front, inside out, shorts on our head, onesies, etc. I put my running hoodie on back to front and this meant I could cover my face if needs be. It turned out that each race had us running to a cone and then back again in different ways/actions/positions.

Some of the funny ones included: acting like a granny to the cone and changing into a ninja on the way back; being a chicken to the cone, laying a square egg, running back with it but accidentally drop it on the waydo a crazy dance move at the cone; grab a stick, hold it by your head and running around in a circle 6 times to make you dizzy before running back.

Random virtual points such as a wooden spoon, 5 gold coins, 1 million points and a spork (spoon and fork combined), were given out for best individual performance and quickest team back. One of the best moments of acting was a new boy to the school who gave an impressive Zombie impression. With the Year 6 play coming up in a few weeks, I hope he auditions for it because this would be a great boost for him before leaving to go to Secondary School.

On the second day in the morning, I had to change which group I was in charge of due to one of the children in my group not feeling well so the Head stayed behind with them. It showed I could adapt quickly and was prepared to change plans at a moment's notice. We went Tree-Top walking (similar to Go Ape) and it was my first time and certainly not my last.

 For 3 hours we learned how to get into the harness, use the Safety Belt, move along the wire and ascend up a series of obstacles to proceed through the trees until a zip wire that lead us back to the ground again. Yet again I was impressed by some children who took to it like a duck to water and others who despite being afraid of heights tried it and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so they went on the course again, second time round.

In the afternoon I changed back to my original group and this meant Tree Top walking again, the only downside was being among the trees for 6 hours caused my nose to explode and hay fever kicked in. I am usually not susceptible to pollen but on this occasion I couldn't escape the outdoors. This time round I was next to two boys in my group who were very quick on the ropes and we all managed to get around the course 3 times. On the 3rd we even timed ourselves and it only took 18 minutes from start to finish.

Disco was on the agenda for the evening and I am sure this is the main reason the children can't wait to go on a residential. Hair and clothes were immaculate and dance moves by one boy ensured our school walked away from a dance-off with a huge pat on our backs. Another I hope who auditions for the Year 6 play. I love to dance and when Macarena and Uptown Funk came on, I led the group to a dance routine. It was noticed by the other staff members that I can choreograph a dance so I won't be surprised if I am to assist with the play.

Finally, the last day arrived and the two activities were Giant Swing and Aeroball. I took the same group as I had done so the previous morning because one thing I really wanted to do was Giant Swing. Teamwork is key in pretty much everything at PGL and Giant Swing even more so because the children were in control of pulling a rope that was attached to metal bars. 

On these bars, a pair of children were harnessed in and pulled higher and higher into the air until the event leader said to stop. The rope was then fastened and those sat in the swing had to pull a cord to release themselves. I was last to go up on the swing and on my own. It was quite high up so I plenty of empathy for all who had been before me.

Aeroball was simply four trampolines attached to each other with nets surrounding them and the aim of the game was to bounce high, grab a ball and throw it into an opponent's goal. Different variations of the game took place and despite some rain that fell, everyone had plenty of fun and some astounding goals were scored including one boy who managed 4 in a row. 

Finally, after 2 days and 2 nights our bags were packed and we set on our way back home. New friendships were made, adventures shared and I am sure the many experiences will be retold once the new term commences in June. This week has given me the opportunity to show a new set of skills to my colleagues and add more proof as to why I am the right man for the job next year, with whichever year group I am entrusted to teach. My mentor said I suit residential trips and next year hopes I am part of the team again.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A busy start to 80% teaching

I know this blog is not a top priority throughout my training but I feel as if it should be used as a reflective tool at least every few weeks. Unfortunately my hopes of updating it on a weekly basis have been dashed somewhat due to the planning, preparation, marking, admin and another big thing - planning my pending wedding.

Yes I know I must be mad to be planning a wedding at the same time as training to be a teacher but I am not the only one in my School Direct course and am probably the only bloke, so kudos to those ladies out there who are really doing most of the planning.

It has been a strange year with me being in two different schools, 3 different year groups and working alongside a wide range of adults. Learning names of colleagues and children alike has been a must do especially as I like to get involved in playground activities so knowing who to pass the ball to is very important!

My fiancée is a teacher too and although in a secondary school she started at a new location and job role at exactly the same time. This had been good in some ways because we can sympathise with each other on many things. Even though she is 4 years my junior, she has been teaching since 21 and is part of the SLT and holds a Literacy role in the school that requires a lot of physical and emotional strength. Someone to look up to I think and not because she is also a few inches taller than me (more so in high heels) plus teaching is something she has always wanted to do, whereas I came into the profession after a period of being in the wilderness until I decided on this being my true vocation.

Now since my last post I have been a busy man as my title suggests. Getting to know 30 students names in my tutor group, an extra 10 who come in for Maths, 3 new teachers to work alongside and a couple of TA's was the easy part. Planning lessons to make the children acquire new knowledge, think more about why things are the way they are, ensure lots of open questions are being put forward and answered, teaching 16 out of 20 hours, marking books and constantly making formative assessments, is now the crux of my week.

Turn the clock back just a few months ago and I was merely observing, taking small groups, teaching the odd lesson here and there, rarely marking and having to make quick assessments of pupils. It is amazing how much there is to take on board in this profession and I often think should I have gone down the PGCE route where it is less classroom based but then I think 'well no because the whole purpose of learning how to teach is actually being in the classroom and getting the most out of the experience before reality kicks in next year when I have a class of my own and it will be a huge responsibility'.

So what exactly have I been doing these past 3 weeks?

English was an interesting lesson because some of the students created a newsletter based on the changes to their school lunchtime table. It was intriguing to see them work as a team to think of questions to ask a variety of people affected, right from the Head to a Year 1 student. 
Getting the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and WHEN questions was top on the teaching and learning agenda, and presenting it on a Publisher Document was a new thing I had to teach so I learnt something new too. A few were chosen by the Head to be put into the school's weekly newsletter and it was a great way to showcase the excellent talent we have in Year 5.

Topic is about the Greek Legacy and the lessons are based around how they influenced modern society so everything from democracy, the Olympic Games, Famous Greeks, and the theatre.
I planned a lesson detailing where the word democracy came from and how it is different to other ways of ruling a country.

It is a great chance to put something like the General Election into context because the children can learn so much and this will only serve to enhance their thinking skills later on in life and for when they can vote in 10 years’ time.

My Maths group is a mix of children I used to teach before my second placement and some new children. Measures and scales was on the agenda for the first two weeks and when this changed to Data and Statistics I used a lesson idea based on the book

 ‘If The World Were A Village’ that I saw being used to teach a mixed year 5/6 class last year. I know it will be challenging but will adapt the lesson accordingly.

In Guided Reading my planning for this is based on what the children are currently learning and what they will be learning next. Some of the children require a heads up in advance so this will be an ideal time to input tricky vocab and help them to answer questions next week. Themes included the General Election, Life Cycles of Animals, some Data and Statistics, and a lot about the Greeks.

As this is my 80% teaching block, for 4 days a week right through till just after half term, I will be teaching pretty much every subject. Having to work alongside 3 different teachers, TAs and a Spanish support assistant has meant my people skills are required to be in tip top shape and I need to listen to all, take in their advice and then use what I feel is important.

My two observations were English and Topic. Persuasion is the unit of the term and I chose to include a set of techniques called DAFOREST that I used last term in my second placement. Being in Year 5 my main aim was that the children were able to recognise the techniques and to use them in their writing.

As it was the first lesson of the unit, I wanted to see if the children could ‘persuade’ their table partner into giving them something they really wanted. This was to get them thinking about what they were doing and the language being used. My lesson then moved on to include a piece of writing in which the children had to find words or phrases that persuaded them to do what was being asked of them. Firstly was a letter describing how amazing Hong Kong is and that people should visit this wonderful place, secondly was a speech to encourage men to become soldiers for Queen Victoria’s army, and the third was a challenging piece by a Head Girl encouraging her fellow students to eat more fruit throughout the week. I was pleased to see so many examples being given and the children has thoroughly gone through each text carefully and used a key to highlight where each part of the persuasive language was.

Image result for cricket ks2In PE I am teaching cricket and luckily the weather has been on my side. There is so much to go through not only in terms of bowling and batting but fielding, the rules, throwing, stopping the ball in different ways. I adapted a plan found on TES and the progress everyone has made in a few weeks is amazing and I can't wait to test our class against another in the year group.

So for another week or so this is it. I hope you enjoy my posts and please feel free to comment, share, RT or favourite. In 10 weeks I will be Qualified (touch the proverbial wood) and then 2 weeks later married. So much is happening at the moment and I am looking forward to sharing my honeymoon on a cruise somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and reflect on the past year. One thing I do know is that it will never be the same again...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

A warm welcome back

This week marked the first time back at St Mary’s and for the next few months I will be working in Year 5 alongside a shared classroom. My aim is to improve on the targets set by my Second Placement mentor and build up to a Good if not Outstanding teacher by the end of July.

The first 4 days I spent getting to know the class and was fortunate enough to have taught many of the students during Maths from September to January, and coached both boys and girls in the school football teams. I've been given the progress ladders and mid-term planning overviews to look into and I made it a top priority.

In English, biographies is the unit choice and the students have been asked to research various well-known people, in order to create their own biography of them. It was very interesting to see obvious choices such as football players and TV or Music celebrities but what did strike me was the quality of note taking and after hearing 'ooo I didn't know that about this person' was great because it showed the students there is more to a person than meets the eye.

I am also excited for English because from the April 27th it will use the General Election as the stimulus and I am planning to teach the class how to write a persuasive speech based on the 7 political parties manifestos. By using the BBC Newsround site, it will enable the children to access politics on a low level but give them a chance to have a 'theoretical' say in how they want the country ran. This unit will include videos featuring children interviewing the party candidates, asking why a TV debate matters, what a General Election actually is, and the power of using persuasive language. 

Image result for general election 2015

In Science the teacher asked the students what they knew about the life-cycle of animals and reproduction cycle. This will inform us when planning future lessons to ensure the national curriculum is adhered to but taught according to the what the children already know. I already have some ideas about how to facilitate this and am thinking to split the class into research groups and feedback to their peers with written presentations.  It will be used as a Speaking and Listening assessment.

The Music unit is exciting because it's based around Holst's 'The Planets'. Due to Earth not being used as one of the planets (because at the time of composing, everyone thought the planets revolved around the Earth), their task will be to compose their own idea of what Earth sounds like. I am envisaging solo pieces at first then leading to a group ensemble for their peers to evaluate. This will help with marking and using Success Criteria to show progress.

 Next week will be spent team teaching and getting prepared for the big step up to 80% teaching. I am nervous especially as it's getting closer to the final assessment plus I now have a position at the school as a full-time teacher next year so don't want to make too many mistakes. A good piece of advice I was given is - use this time to make mistakes, as there won't be a lot of room for them once in charge of class by myself.

Image result for teaching quotes

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Half term review Spring 2

To say that this term has been busy would be an understatement. I could not wait to start planning for my new class and boy was I given the chance to do just that.  I was given the responsibility for planning: 3 weeks of English, 4 weeks of Maths, 5 weeks of PE, 1 PSHE, 3 Science, and 2 Topic (History) lessons, and I thrived at this opportunity.

Marking also played a huge part in this term and I have begun to appreciate the power of peer marking. I agree that children need to be training into doing this properly and efficiently but given the right time and focus it will help those same children to become better at analysing others work and gaining proofreading skills that they will transfer to their own work.

One of my next targets was to be able to differentiate work. I was told that some of the children are performing above national average (especially in Maths) and I had to ensure work was pitched at their level. I did this and during my planning ensured everyone was catered for and scoured online for resources and asked teachers in the years above for advice. At parents evening during the 3rd week of 5, a few parents commented on the great work the mentor and I had been doing in pushing their children rather than allowing them to complete easy tasks without any effort.

My mentor was very good at giving feedback and I certainly learnt a lot from him. Being a young teacher himself, he was able to impart the wisdom of what to look out for and how to make my planning, training and teaching easier. 

At the school I was made to feel extremely welcome. The head teacher’s daughter is also on the Schools Direct course so she knew what was expected of me. I am local to the school and a few parents whose children were in a year above and below knew me from my running club and it was soon apparent that some money I helped to raise and donate from my club was given to the PTA, in which most of the member’s children were being taught by myself. I spent most of my break outside with the various cohorts and the loyalty and respect from the children I gained was spread across the school. ‘You coming to play football sir?’ ‘Here sir let me get that for you’ ‘When will you be teaching us?’ Were all comments regularly heard and it filled me with immense pride that I had both an academic and sociable sense of respect from them.

During World Book Day I took 12 children from KS2 and taught them how to interview their peers and teachers about the costumes they had worn, then showed them how to put it all together into their own newsletters. I created one master newsletter which went out to all the parents. Print outs of all are displayed in one of the main corridors with pictures of the group dressed up for the day.

Am I ready for 80%? I think the answer is yes. Will I achieve Outstanding in my QTS? I hope so. After being one of the lucky few to attend the talk by Andrew Pollard, I can see how interesting the life of a teacher can be. I do need to fine tune my classroom behaviour management and in doing so will stick close to my philosophy which is to be fair, fun and firm.

I reflect on almost anything in life from the choices I make in my wedding plans, to why did I set off too quickly in a race, to why on earth did I place those children together in a project. This is why I enjoy teaching because I can build on my mistakes and improve them day on day, week on week, month on month etc. I will continue to make mistakes but as long as I can see how to rectify them and do so properly, I will strive to be the very best I can be. I do have aspirations for the future as we all should do but for now my immediate aim is to knuckle down plan for the remainder of my training year and look forward to taking on my own class in September (which I can gleefully confirm is going to be at my main placement).

Monday, 30 March 2015

Second School placement ends in time for Easter

It’s all Greek to me:WC 9th March
This week consisted of teaching decimals and rounding in Maths; planning an eggs-periment in Science (yes it was all about eggs); how to be a persuasive Viking leader in Topic; and recounting the myth of Icarus: The boy who flew too close to the sun.

Life as a primary school teacher has meant that I have to be versatile in many different lessons, knowledgeable to some extent, and convey across to 32 children that learning is fun, engaging and worthwhile. Hopefully I manage it on a daily basis and have inspired the children to one day use the many skills learnt and to apply them in a whole manner of life situations.

Luckily for me, last term I observed a year 4 class, at my main placement, carrying out the observation lesson for the science experiment I was to teach. Little did I know back then, that that one hour would provide me with enough information to confidently take on the planning and turn it into my own words and differentiate it for my own classes needs. I did ask the class teacher last week, whilst visiting for the Oscars ceremony, where she has kept some of the resources, and was pleased to find it all filed away in the specific subject folder. This is one trait I wish to develop myself as it will enable other teachers to find resources and adapt them where required.

The eggs in question were placed in 6 different liquids and will be kept in tightly closed jars for one week until the observation lesson. This will help show the children how the shell of an egg reacts similarly to the enamel of teeth and that certain liquids will damage the shell more than others.

As for persuading a Viking leader – this was a good way for the children to use persuasive techniques. Later on this term I will be moving onto the DAFOREST method of remembering what is needed to be persuasive but this week’s lesson concentrated on Viking settlers, what they did as well as invade villages, and what makes a good Viking leader. All of this was put into a poster and the class were shown various examples including the ‘We Need You’ Lord Kitchener posters.

The English topic looked Greek myths and after looking at the story of Pandora’s Box, we concentrated on Icarus and his father Deadalus. This really excited the class because everyone dreams of flying and after showing them two different stories plus a video clip, they could see that a myth can change ever so slightly but have different parts changed to suit the storyteller and audience. At the end of the week a recount was created for their Extended Writing, and some of the pieces really showed how much had been taken on board including the spellings of challenging Greek names. 

A long wait to decide my fate: WC 16th March

On Monday the observation part of the experiment was completed and it was amazing to see all of my class as scientists pondering the question as to which liquid did the most damage to the eggs. It was tricky because although the coca cola and coffee hadn’t seemed to do much damage, it had however stained the egg. This was hard to see at first for some children who though no damage had been made.

The vinegar and orange juice were the worst offenders and it was deemed that the sugar inside the juice and acid in the vinegar slowly eroded the egg shell within a week. The egg in orange juice was totally clear of shell and the smell was disgusting. Seeing the children’s faces when looking at the eggs via the visualiser created the ‘wow factor’ I had hoped for. Each group when given an egg to examine, did so carefully and wrote their thoughts on smell, touch and sight. 

I look forward to doing this again and possibly next time plan even further in advance with some eggs being inside the liquids for a couple of weeks if not a month.

For two days this week I had to be observed by not only my tutor (for his 4th visit) and then my teaching interview at my main placement school in front of both the head and deputy. I was not sure of which one I would be more worried about. The person who keeps a check on me every few months and is slowly grading me toward Good/Excellent or the two at the top of the very school I wish to work at.

Firstly let’s settle the matter of the tutor observation. He hadn’t seen me at this school before and also not in this year group. I decided to go slightly outside of my observation comfort zone and teach a creative drama lesson in which the entire class was split into 12 groups to act out the 12 Labours of Hercules. It was only yesterday that they had started to look at this myth and I wanted to improve on their recount skills from the Icarus story of last week. 

In the lesson I had tried to ensure the children were evenly split by the acting skills I had seen during their play scripts lessons last term and also attempted to balance those less able students with more able whilst at the same time keeping overpowering children away from each other in case of a ‘too many cooks’ situation. It proved to be a success however whilst each group was showing their performances off, I didn’t fully explain to the rest of the class that they were to watch attentively and give a star or wish to their peers performances. This meant a few were sitting around doing nothing waiting for their turn. My tutor did commend my bravery for this lesson especially as it got everyone involved in the acting process and genuinely helped the entire class remember some if not most of the Labours.

On Friday was the ‘big one’, I was given the task of teaching a year 6 class from my main placement, on the subject of the Ten Commandments, during an RE lesson. This was something quite new to me because I am usually at University on a Friday, or was used for PPA time both schools. Being a Christian is something I value and this is one of the areas I had a little bit of knowledge in plus I had dinner with some good friends both of whom are regular church members and gave me some very good advice.

The lesson being taught was to consider ‘How the Commandments fit in with modern day society’ and so I posed this question to the class and had a nice debate running on which of the Commandments was most important and why plus should any of them be kept, removed or simply amended to suit the religions of today. It was more pupil led than teacher led and hopefully that came across in the lesson. 

Afterwards I had to wait a full 90 minutes until the phone call and am pleased to say that it was a success. Being a trainee teacher already based at the school; having a good relationship with both the children and teachers; knowing the schools layout; their non-negotiables; and finally showing some promise during my time at the school, on top of the interview and lesson – they feel I am the right man for the job. I am not sure which year group I will be placed in but it will be in either years 3, 4 or 5.

Second School Placement completed with lots of tears WC 23rd March

This week was the last of 5 full teaching weeks and 7 at St Peter’s. It has been a busy process especially with planning, marking, parents evening, assessments, dealing with parents, and learning a whole new set of rules and timetables.

My University manual of guidance stated that I had to track 6 students ranging from High Ability through to Low Ability. For this I needed to copy work from English, Math and Science so I did exactly that as well as a written assessment they each completed. It was very good seeing them from one sub-level to another because there was a clear indication of progress throughout. This gives me confidence in placing the correct level/mark for when assessing formatively.

I was very pleased that the final week’s English was based around creating a collaborative Hogwarts School Prospectus. Being a body-double on the set of Harry Potter I have fond memories of the films and this was a chance to link my past career with my new one. Some of the children had read a lot of the books and this made creating groups a lot easier. Initially I went down the list based on Writing Ability and delegated the first 8 students as ‘leaders’ of their foursome. Using the persuasive techniques learnt in a previous lesson plus the DAFOREST mnemonic, I gave the class 8 different ways to persuade in their writing. The end result was pretty good and I can comfortably say that they will be using their new skills in future work.

The final day for me was Thursday despite school not ending until Friday. It was very emotional and whilst I was out during PPA the children had made some cards and I was presented with a lot of goodbyes plus a Q&A session was held with the children asking me what I had enjoyed doing during my time at the school. I had a great experience, learnt so much about a one-form entry school, planned more than I could have imagined, taught some truly inspirational children and wish them all the best of luck.

Away from school I was very lucky to meet and listen to Andrew Pollard talk about his Reflective Teaching Book. He is someone who has gone from being a primary school teacher in the 70's to helping to create policies for teaching and researching into what makes children tick. I can see a lot of what he said about his younger self in myself and I wonder what the future holds for me.