I’m up and running. I have started facilitating lessons and now it feels great.
With all the planning and organising in the world it is being with the pupils that matters to me. I have begun to see those faces; whether it’s excitement, interest or confusion I love it more than anything.
Many of my first few lessons have consisted of the “getting started” stuff – handing out exercise books, talking through expectations and course/term topics.
I am now starting to see pupils for the second, third, fourth time and this is lovely. They know where to sit, how to behave and are ready to learn.
My preferred trick for seating plans, although I have found it time-consuming, is to write out each pupil’s name on a sticky note and place it on their table. Pupils at school know to line up outside the classroom, so they all entered for their first lesson, welcomed by my smiling face at the door, and were instructed to find their name and sit down.
I have the full variety of classes – key stage 3 and three GCSE classes, top sets, lower sets – and it has worked for all. It is a great first message in demonstrating who has authority and ownership in the classroom and it minimises any peer group issues.
I also work with a printed seating plan on my desk to annotate as I go with key icons. I highlight the more typical Pupil Premium or SEN needs and I also use a cross for confident/positive pupils and a dot for pupils with caution about application or engagement.
I must note it has been wonderful to get going with pupils from the first lesson of term. Last year I arrived in the school after first having three weeks input from university. Therefore my mentor and the other teachers I was working with had already settled their classes and set their expectations.
I also relish the benefits of having my own teaching room! I know where everything is: I forget glue sticks – they are only in the cupboard. I need dictionaries – in a box at the front of the class. Any experienced teachers reading may think I’m odd, but I have found this so satisfying!
In terms of behaviour management I have taken opportunities to share in setting standards for “our behaviour” (the pupils’ and mine) as I feel I participate also in listening to others, being prepared etc.
So behaviour so far has been very promising, regardless of setting or year group. But I have taken the opportunity to highlight behaviour in order to set the standard for the class; when a year 7 pupil continued to talk after I had asked for everyone’s attention it was a perfect opportunity, in my eyes, to remind the group of our agreed expectations for learning.
Learning support staff have now begun to arrive in lessons and once I have a clear picture of which staff member is with which pupil/class, for which lesson of the week/fortnight, I can inform them prior to lessons as to our learning objectives and any particular activities we will be doing. I will update readers on this once I make some head-way.
So with the timetable now up and running, I feel I am settling nicely into my lessons with each of my classes. I fully appreciate I have an advantage of being in a familiar school, but despite this my timetable is now becoming colour-coded so I don’t forget all the other things I need to do – when I do my planning, when I am in other teaching rooms, when I have lunchtime duties, when I have department meetings, when I meet my mentor, when I set homework (to fit in with our school-wide home learning strategy).
I hope the rainbow effect timetable begins to work! I will let you know if I miss something...
SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England.