What a week – talk about highs and lows! I think the order I’ll take on this one will be the bad, the good and the ugly – it’s the order I encountered each!
The Bad – Monday. The 20th. Blue Monday. I didn’t hear about Blue Monday until lunchtime but I wouldn’t have needed to be told. I had a pretty terrible day at the office. No matter what lesson I did and no matter what behaviour management strategy I used, the children would just not listen or do what I had asked. I found it so frustrating but at no stage did I doubt whether this was the right line of work for me. By the end of the day I just sat down in the classroom and stared in to space and thought to myself “That couldn’t have gone much worse”. My class teacher came in and could tell by the look on my face how my first day of continuous had gone so we chatted for a while about the issues that needed addressing. I suggested a solution. Normally, every week, every student in the class (and the school) starts off with 60 minutes worth of ‘golden time’ so they can attend the club they are involved with on a Friday. All the students love it. Misbehaviour however, would normally result in a loss of some of that 60 minutes. The more serious the misbehaviour or the more frequent you misbehave, the more time you lose. Some of them however see the 60 minutes as a currency they can spend – “I’ve only lost 5 minutes so I can get away with a bit more messing yet”. I turned it on it’s head and suggested that I’d make them earn their ‘golden time’. Which leads me on to
The Good – Tuesday morning I walked in to the classroom and however lame this may sound – the mantra I was repeating in my head was “You won’t allow another day like yesterday”. The kids came in, I sat them down and I expressed my serious disappointment with the behaviour of a lot of the pupils. I told them that their behaviour was so poor that I had decided to change the rules about golden time. I explained how they now had to EARN their right to go to their golden time club by – doing what they were told to do, kind gestures (holding doors open, offering to help others, etc), putting in the effort during lessons and showing wisdom. We discussed what I meant by wisdom – it was things like walking away from arguments and choosing not to get involved in others misbehaviour. It worked. That’s the best synopsis I can give of the result of that chat. Behaviour improved greatly and it was wonderful to see the children who would normally be happy to lose 5 minutes here and there, being happy having gained 5 minutes for listening to my instructions or trying hard.
I believe that credit is due to @JasonElsom for both the photo/tweet and the idea.
The head teacher liked it so much that he challenged me to find a company that could do something similar for “our school”. I found a local company who would do it. It’s been measured and priced, and is penciled in to be done in two weeks time I’m told. I’m very happy that something like this will be done based on my suggestion (which again was inspired by @JasonElsom). It’s nice to think that even though I’m student, I still have a voice in the school.
On Thursday, I happened to stumble across a fantastic behaviour management strategy for the class. I’ve no doubt but that I’m not the first person to have tried this but I never thought of it as something I could use in the placement I’m in. The class and I were learning about Buddhism and my eyes were drawn to the word ‘meditation’. I said to myself, “give it a shot, see how it goes”. It went down a treat. I told them before we started that this was in no way intended as a form of prayer, merely an opportunity to sit on the floor and switch off. I played relaxing music and they all closed their eyes and just sat in the serenity of the classroom. Everyone wrote down how they felt afterwards and the comments were all similar – ‘I feel relaxed’; ‘Calm’; ‘Can we do this everyday?’; ‘I don’t feel stressed now’, and other comments of a similar nature. I am going to persist with it and give them the opportunity to sit quietly after they come in from break and lunch. I thought they were the best times because normally the first five minutes after break and lunch is spent splitting up verbal arguments over a football or someone making faces at someone’s sister’s friend’s mother’s friend’s daughter.
When I left school on Friday evening, I was feeling very good about the week. I felt like I had learned so much that I can carry forward. What could possibly bring me down after that week? I’m sure you can tell what’s coming next.
The Ugly – As soon as I returned to my flat on Friday, my phone was buzzing with emails coming in. I saw an email entitled ‘Re-submission’ from the university and I thought to myself that it was an email sent to everyone so I clicked on it to have a look but as it was loading I could see ‘Sent to: My name’ and that was all. My heart sank. So yes, I failed my assessment – the essay from before Christmas. I failed it ‘comfortably’ shall we say. It’s my own fault, I can accept that. Having read the feedback I can see that I completely misinterpreted the question and ended up with an essay that was a million miles away from where it should have gone and about as useful as a hole in a bag.
I know I have mentioned on a few occasions that I don’t like lectures but love the placement/practical side of it and how I think student teachers should be apprentices and not in university BUT the reality of it is – if I want to do this as a career, then I simply have to get on with it. Hopefully I can do myself justice on the second attempt and then move on from it. It has certainly knocked the wind out of my sails but nobody said the course was easy so…it has to be done. That’s the long and short of it.
Now, I must go planning for lessons for next week and planning for this second shot at this essay.
Right so lads, bye bye! Bye bye bye bye! Bye. Bye bye bye bye bye bye!
P.S. One of the best friends I’ve made since I moved to Scotland is returning home to India soon and I know he reads this so I’d like to wish him the very best of luck with it. I’m gutted he’s leaving but as someone who lives away from home (although not as far away from home as he does) I’m delighted for him at the same time. It gives me a great excuse to go to India now!