Having had a great break, I am straight back into routine with progress checks and parents’ evening due within the first week. I am feeling refreshed and rested from the break and most definitely a few pounds heavier.
I have marked year 11 mocks over the break and spent some time writing up my NQT folder of evidence. But equally, I tried to detach myself from work for several days to feel as if I have had a break from it.
My friends and family have been so keen to hear of my tales from my first teaching term and it has been lovely to spend some time reflecting on my experiences and to feel satisfied that there have been some successes along the way.
So my first January task has been progress checking. Inputting pupils’ levels of achievement as well as giving an attitude grade for behaviour and application.
As I have mentioned before, we are following the previous national curriculum levels for key stage 3, therefore due to the quantity of key stage 3 teaching I do, it has been a really useful exercise in “clocking” current achievement and progress for my pupils, but equally useful in cementing my knowledge of what each level looks like. I feel more practised in recognising a 5c from a 7a.
At key stage 4, we have introduced a Fine Grading system, whereby each GCSE grade is split into three bands; for example a C1 shows a pupil is attaining at the top of a C grade and is close to a B grade. A C2 is a secure C, and a C3 is at the bottom of a C grade and could slip into a D. This I have found hugely beneficial to illustrate to GCSE pupils more specifically where their attainment sits and it is already leading to less complacency in pupils and more drive to secure or push up a grade.
It has also been a rewarding process in seeing how instrumental I have been in helping pupils to develop their skills in application, comparative work and evaluation from where they started back in September. I look forward to the remaining progress checks throughout the year to celebrate the pupils’ own successes (and also some of the impact I have had on their learning and progress).
Second, I have parents’ evening, which will be a celebration of some of these pupils’ successes also. We are trialling a new system of parental booking – rather than pupils asking for appointments when they see you, parents are responsible for booking their own, electronically.
The jury is still out for me; it is tomorrow evening so I will let you know. Having a system that gives parents the ownership and flexibility is a great way of encouraging participation. However, I wonder whether some of the parents who I really want to see in an effort to support their children further will be among those who don’t book – or even don’t attend.
Elsewhere, feeling fresh-faced and full of January joy, I plan to start afresh with some pupils – specifically a handful of my year 8s who can pose a challenge. I have some incredibly attentive and keen year 8 pupils, however there are several who crave much attention and therefore tend to misbehave. I am still developing my skills in knowing when to tackle and when to leave it – I have used praise, merits and phone calls as well as negative sanctions in order to shape and direct the more unruly.
I also recognise that continuing to develop my planning accuracy will engage pupils further and reduce some disruption.
I have not cracked them all yet, but feel at this point that it is important to commence the year with a clean slate for all – hoping that their break from school has been conducive to returning more actively to participate and share. I am hopeful that my resilience to get this right will show the pupils that I have a true interest in their lives and growth.
SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England.