Mr Blue Sky

I missed last week. I’m sorry. It has been a hectic fortnight. Planning, cutting, planning, laminating, reflecting, planning, researching and planning. And planning.

Last week saw me take on a lot more lessons and a lot less observation. Two issues became prevalent. Noise levels and behaviour. It was strange for me because on my previous school experience, neither were an issue that made their way in to discussions with the class teacher but last week – it was a hot topic.

I found it a struggle. I really did. Part of me questioned whether it was worth it – not in the sense of ‘If I can’t control 5 year olds, what chance have I?’ because that is ridiculous. It was more a case of ‘Am I progressing enough here’.  Both class teachers and I spoke at length about it and while I didn’t come out with ‘I’m shite at this’, I did express my fear that my progress in these areas (noise levels and behaviour management) was poor. They both reassured me and told me to stop being so harsh on myself. I do think I set high standards of myself but everyone wants to do their best, and I’m no different.

Friday eventually came round, as it tends to do and I got home and fell asleep pretty quickly (although I did watch an episode of Cheers beforehand). Saturday and Sunday were entirely dedicated to planning. I took the odd toilet break and dash to the fridge for a bite to eat but I decided I didn’t want to leave the books, laptop or planning folder down for any longer than necessary. I managed to get the three weekends before the continuous weeks off from work and so I took advantage. Working all day Saturday during placement means for me that I don’t really get a good run at the planning until the Sunday and as I find planning for early years difficult – I’m only ever really working towards the next day. By Sunday night, around 10ish – I had planned all the activities and lessons for Monday, Tuesday and the first half of Wednesday.

Monday of this week then, I went in feeling more relaxed than I had ever done before about teaching early stages. I felt ready, I knew I had resources ready, I knew what should happen when for Monday and Tuesday. It was obvious to me and to my class teachers that I was more relaxed. It’s not as though my lessons were flawless, far from it – but I didn’t feel tense about doing them.

A huge success I had this week came from advice I got from the boss was using a table reward scheme with pom poms (the art & craft type). What a success that was. Children who found it difficult to engage with the lessons or activities were all of a sudden trying really hard so they could win some pom poms for their table. The carrot they had in front of them was first choice of activities for free play. Thankfully – getting to play with the sand tray is a huge incentive for the kids to tune in that much more. It’s something I will definitely use for the remainder of my time in the school.

All my lessons up until Wednesday afternoon I felt had gone well. It should have filled me with confidence for my tutor visit on Thursday. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that things couldn’t possibly run as smoothly for the tutor visit could it? It didn’t. It really didn’t. All the wonderful behaviours and level of engagement I had seen leading up to this point, disappeared when the tutor came in the door. I brought the children up for lunch and went in to my class teacher’s office and told her that I had definitely failed. There was no way I could pass. The tutor came in and could see how frustrated I was and told me that she thought my behaviour management strategies were effective and they thought the main reason why I had problems was because some of the kids were not sufficiently challenged. It was a fair comment and I fully accepted it. We spoke about the need to have an activity a step above what was intended just in case they find it too easy. It was also pointed out to me that I needed to find a way to assess the learning effectively as it was something I was doing in terms of lesson planning, but not assessing for assessment sake. In the end, I passed my inspection, which was a pleasant but completely unexpected surprise.

Another surprise came in the form of the essay results coming out Friday. I didn’t know they were coming out. I passed that too.

I’ll tell you and show you a glimpse of my highlight of the week. I thought I was going to tell you about making bees with toilet roll tubes (which all the kids loved) or the fact that over half the class at some stage this week told me I was the best teacher ever (which is obviously not true but still nice to thing they like having me as a teacher) but the real highlight this week was cycling along the beach yesterday.

 

Not a bad day for taking the bike out.

Not a bad day for taking the bike out.

It was a beautiful day and I cycled up and down the beach. Cycling up I was reflecting on the successes and areas for improvement from this week. On the way back down – I didn’t think about anything. It was nice to do that for the first time in ages.

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There may be trouble ahead…

No school today and reading week next week, lovely. Of course, things can’t run that smoothly. This week we also happened to be given one of our two big assignments for the year. A 5000 word essay – no problemo.

Unfortunately, that match I mentioned last week, the Scottish gaelic football championship final – didn’t go as we planned. Lost by two. You have to take these defeats on the chin I suppose and  learn from it. It gives us a great reason to train harder next year and make sure that in 12 months time – we have that trophy in our possession.

On Monday we had our first (and supposedly only?) lecture dedicated solely to lesson planning. It was quite interesting and (obviously) very important for us to see the format of the lesson plans that are expected of us for when we return to the schools for our placements. I know the placements will be stressful and a big work load to get through but I’m really looking forward to it. Am I naive? Probably. However, I feel that the real learning is just a few weeks away and I’ve never been shy of hard work so I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves! On Monday we also had a look at Continuing Professional Development with a particular focus on how a teacher can develop professionally just as much from a chat at the photocopier as a full day course dedicated to CPD. I like that idea.

Tuesday was great fun. We had Art & Design again. The tutor/lecturer for this is fantastic. When we first stepped in to the art room a few weeks back, there was a few people uncertain at the thought of “learning about art” but everyone seems to have a smile on their face during Art & Design. Would you like to see what we made? Well tough, you’ve no choice.Image

Our group decided to do a farm so in the above picture you will see a Massey moving bales of hay in to the hay shed.

We also had a house and a jeep and a field to go with it. One of the members was assigned to making the animals so he made a cow, a pig, a sheep and ducks for a pond. We all let our creative side out on Tuesday.

Wednesday was an unfortunate day. This fool got up an hour earlier than necessary and was outside a lecture theatre an hour before it was due to start. Luckily, I’m a morning person but if I wasn’t…it wouldn’t have been a pretty sight. I’m actually one of those annoying people you hear about and would love to punch if you met me first thing in the morning. When the alarm goes off, that’s me awake – bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Thursday we had the last of our religion lectures and workshops in which we had an interesting discussion about religious assemblies in school – do they have a place or not? A lot of different views were expressed and the majority seemed to think there should be time for whole school assemblies but many questioned if they should be orientated around religion or not.

So this assignment… a lot of people seem very panicked about it but without trying to be patronising – I don’t get that. Obviously it’s going to be tough but we’re all in this course because we are good enough to be here so bring it on.

“Let’s face the music and dance”  

Hopefully I can make this dance look as effortless as Fred Astaire did.