I have had a successful week, this past week. By no means flawless but I have developed routines with the planning and marking demands. I mark my GCSE exercise books fortnightly as best is possible.
We have a fortnightly teaching timetable which lends itself to setting home learning and taking in books on that rotation.
The whole-school expectation for marking is three weekly for a good performing teacher. I will endeavour to keep to my two-week plan.
In terms of planning I can successfully say that I am able to write lesson plans, create appropriate PowerPoints and supply resources, but I am finding that until you meet the pupils who have a 3A or a 7C (using the previous national curriculum levels), it is a challenge to make everything completely accessible.
Before knowing whether a pupil can successfully write, read and discuss at an expected level I have found initial lessons are almost integral to seeking out this more implicit pupil data.
I would suggest that although pupils’ progress, baselines and target grades are superb indicators, they do not supply you with all the tools in order to plan 100 per cent effectively in your subject, in this new academic year. You need opportunities to meet and form rapport with each pupil in order to see how they work at their best.
I was fortunate to observe a lesson today. Taking the opportunity to see how other more experienced department members structure and review some of these initial learning activities is hugely useful and is something I would recommend – I have already integrated some ideas that have worked well.
I think I may have come on too fixed and fierce with my classroom behaviours and expectations. During this observation the teacher just expected the behaviour to be correct, whether a year 7 or 11 class.
Having observed her first lesson with a group, she works on the premise that if you show and model “respecting others, being prepared, listening to each other and trying hard” and most importantly EXPECT it, then it will happen. Whereas I think I may have made this a bit too tedious for some.
On reflection I think some of my first classes have been too dry in covering what is expected and I have lost some opportunities to just see it and let it happen. I am putting this down to being a keen NQT who is trying to tick all of the boxes. But it is only with hindsight that I can see already how next year can be improved.
I now plan to address this by using the learning environment to promote the more inspiring and engaging questions and work on my ability to just expect the right attitude and behaviour. This in turn I hope will allow more time for the fun, engaging and interactive learning to take place.
On the other hand, I have had some very special moments where my methodical approach has engaged pupils. For example, a visit to my department office from a year 7 pupil to show me what further reading they have sought out and family discussions they have had as a result of our first philosophy lesson, asking big questions like “Who am I?” and “How do I know?”.
I have also had year 10 pupils so engaged by their first homework that they have completed it early! And pupils are choosing to complete extension tasks at home as the unanswered questions they have are too appealing to miss. This is a sign that some activities and modelling I am getting right.
I hope this continues on an upward trend and that hindsight will continue to serve me well in developing my own teaching style and reputation at school.
SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England.