Observation

Today was another tutor observation. I think it went well she had to rush off to teach but it’s the most relaxed I’ve felt when being observed, which is a good job as I have a mentor observation of my other class tomorrow.

I felt very confident, very much in control of the class, confident in my subject knowledge and maybe it came from a few things. Firstly I’ve taught this class so much now it’s second nature, the relationships are built and it’s pretty much plain sailing. I also had confidence in my topic being interesting and appealing to them. I had already taught a lesson an hour before to my other group so I was ‘in the zone’ too.  I didn’t stick to time but then I ran the lesson very flexibly in terms of letting the students input and dictate pace and delivery quite a bit. They were so enthused, it would have been crazy for me to have missed the moment when they were truly engaged and contributing effortlessly.

It really was one of those seize the moment, moments.

I took advantage of an opportunity to really embed some E&D and to differentiate learning by asking one of the students who is from another country to share something from a promotional campaign with us on You Tube from his country and let us see if we could read the message without understanding the language. This was really successful and I’ve never seen him so hooked in to a lesson and so visibly happy to be sharing something familiar to him with us and explaining it. He made a good choice too, something really fun and interesting which gave us plenty to talk about. It was a huge step going from being disengaged and sitting in a corner in silence for most lessons to being the focus of attention and holding his own in the spotlight. I saw the person I’ve seen in one to one sessions that is kept hidden underneath that closed off exterior today and it was great. I was very proud of him and delighted that he accepted the task and performed it so well, he’s not one to like being put on the spot but this was a way of putting him on the spot right inside his comfort zone and it worked far better than I anticipated it would. That’s a top tip, try it if you get a chance if you have a diverse class or a student how is a little bit of a square peg in a round hole, it really worked wonders. It kind of showed in that when he was placed in an unfamiliar pairing for the assignment that he was happy to work with his partner, he just had more enthusiasm. Note to self: don’t lose the momentum now.

I hope my enjoyment of the lesson shone through and kind of compensated in my grade for the time discrepancy… I’ll get my lesson timing right one of these days. When I was chatting to the other teachers afterwards though they were quite encouraging saying that with that particular group if they are engaged it’s better to have the confidence to play it by ear rather than stick to a lesson plan unless the lesson content has to be taught at that time. My mentor said that it shows a high degree of confidence to be able to do what I’d done and that hopefully my feedback would reflect that rather than chastise me for time keeping and not sticking to the plan. He said it can take new teachers a long time to develop that confidence so it was testament to me that I felt comfortable doing it and during an observation. It’s good to feel good about our accomplishments.

In other news my Year 1 class had a couple of rowdy ones in it today and I had to resort to warnings and threats regarding talking. There were a couple of pockets of noise and it took a good chunk of the lesson trying to control these. In the end I gave a speech something along the lines of “if there is only one person in this room with ambition, only one person who wishes to progress, who wishes to better themselves, who wishes to leave here with a qualification, please have the respect to let that person hear what I’m saying and give me the respect of letting me teach them.” it worked and we had peace for the rest of the lesson.

I’m having observation with the same class tomorrow so I’m hoping that they will remember what I said to them today and keep a bit of a lid on the chatter. What made it worse is that one of the little groups was right beside me, it was like trying to have a telephone conversation while your three year old stands beside you pulling on your clothes repeating “mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy” over and over. It’s draining after a while. They’re not usually like that so let’s hope it was a one off.

It’s not too long since I was a student (hang on I still am!) so I also remember the frustration at having little side chats and giggles going on around the classroom when you’re trying to focus and concentrate or absorb some information as a student. It’s just so rude and I know often the people doing it don’t realise how rude it is and how off putting it can be but they ought to. I think if you have something on topic to say in a classroom then say it so that everyone can hear your opinion not just mumble it to the people close to you. Any teacher who has had to stand and try to manage a class and keep up their own enthusiasm for a lesson when there are groups mumbling and giggling dotted around the room should be able to understand this frustration. It can be overcome though, it might not make you popular teacher of the year but it can be overcome.

I finalised my first assessment today so that was quite exciting and in a spare moment I wrote my questions for my specialist interview.

I was also asked to participate as a judge tomorrow afternoon on a regional business and computing debating competition, the final of which is being hosted by the college where I am on placement. That should be fun and as my mentor said she felt it would give me another string to my bow in terms of experiences I’ve had on placement.

I’m in early tomorrow for a monthly meeting at 08.00 and it’s going to be a late night as I’ve also been asked to stick around for open evening to get a feel for what happens there and to see how it all runs. Another request by my mentor, another string to the bow and all really welcomed opportunities to get more involved in the world behind the scenes of teaching. I’m glad my placement is giving me these opportunities now and that I’m able to take them up, it’s all slotting together and making sense and really making me feel a part of things.

So by the end of tomorrow I should be pretty much done in for the week and welcome a Friday off although I have some work to do on Friday for a former colleague, got to keep my foot in the real world after all and keep the pennies coming when I get a chance.

Hopefully I’ll get some good feedback on this week’s observations and that will send me off into the weekend with a smile, ready to crack on with some of the written work for the PGCE. It’s a full on course, but it’s worth it when you see it all coming together and you start to really feel like a teacher.

Anyone reading this who is thinking of it for themselves, do it. It’s worth it and as long as you stay on top of things it’s doable. I’m feeling more fulfilled today than I ever felt in any other job and that was one of the points of me setting off on this journey. Do it for the right reasons, because you want to make a difference and are determined to make a difference and you actually try to do that and you can’t go wrong.

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