Saturday, 16 November 2013

School Direct: the 10th week of teaching.

The last time I wrote a post I was embarking on my first half term holiday as a School Direct trainee.  It left as quickly as it had come and whilst I packed quite a lot in, I still didn't achieve as much as I wanted to in those days off.  Part of that has to come down to planning two lessons that I didn't need to teach as I had a training day that I'd forgotten about, that was...annoying.  I do feel that my planning is getting quicker though, I'm learning not to be too much of a perfectionist and not to try and cover all bases.  As much as I'd like to have great lessons every time I've learned that in reality that just doesn't happen, and I'll do myself no good in trying.

As well as wanting to have a life beyond planning, the other reason for speeding up the process is that I have an assignment to get written.  All through my undergrad I was always ahead of deadlines, it was never something I had an issue with, so not being able to be 110% on top of things has thrown me a bit.  I'd already come to the realisation that I'll never reach the end of a to-do list again so I'll just have to add this on top.  It's also a very different type of assignment from anything I'd done before.  The closest I can get to it was a piece of coursework I did for my minor in first year, Psychology in Education, but that was a long time ago!  I think we're all very used to being given a title and being told to get on with it, so having something as wide as this is a bit of a shock.  In theory it gives me a lot more freedom to do what I like, but at the moment it's just a bit nerve wracking as I'm not sure whether or not I'm doing the right thing.  Only time, or the university..., will tell I guess!

A while back I mentioned that I'd started using a tool called Class Dojo, so I thought it was about time to talk about how its been going for me.  At the end of half term I gave out reward points and a little medal (a flashing pumpkin for halloween, of course) for the students that had been using the target language the most.  I also gave out some notes to take home to say how well they'd been doing.  I did this with my year 7s who had been the classes I was testing Dojo with.  I was really pleased to see how happy they were to be getting these, especially the notes to take home and stick up on the fridge.  From the start of half term I have been keeping the points going on a running total, the students get to see how many points they have at the start and end of each lesson, and the change in their behaviour when they hear that points have been awarded is really noticeable.  I've started using it with year 8 too, so I'll be interested to see where that ends up by Christmas.  I'm still ironing out the issues, like making sure I'm fair and being able to give the points out quick enough to have the right effect but I'm definitely getting there.

Also before half term I put myself forward to be one of the student reps, which means I'll be sitting on a regular meeting with the staff that organise our course.  We had rather a long list of feedback to take this time, but most issues were easily ironed out and seeing as it's the first year of the course problems are to be expected.  Representation has been something I've always been interested in and I got involved a lot at Lancaster.  It's even something I looked into for full time work, co-ordinating academic representation in Students' Unions.  I think it will always be something I'm interested in, I guess later down the line it will come back in involvement with Student Voice/School Council or similar.

I've not talked too much in these posts about my actual training and what I'm working on, I guess that's because I was getting to grips with the basics and getting used to being in the classroom.  My main targets at the moment are working on using the target language in the classroom (with my target language prompt sheets and Class Dojo) and student independence.  I'm trying to talk less and get them doing more, both through more active tasks and encouraging them to be more independent in what they do.  I've been using 3Bs before me (brain, book, buddy) for a while now, but I've added a 4th B.  I wanted to try out something I've read about, a 'help desk' which could include different things each lesson, a dictionary, a conjugated verb, a grammar rule, anything.  Students then visit the desk when they feel they need it.  Making this into a 4th B was a little tenuous, and not the best language I know! Spanish has become "el boletín" (noticeboard rather than desk) and le bureau des renseignements.  I'm not sure how this is going to work out but I'm giving it a go this week and will report back!

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