There is no point me moaning about a lack of time, or using it as an excuse for the lack of blogging on my part – especially not to an audience of teachers and NQT’s. In all honesty, I blink and another week has gone, I blink and another week has gone (and so on…).
On a Wednesday I stay at school until around 5:20pm as I have a class at the local University and today, instead of sitting in front of the computer doing some kind of work none stop, then feeling too shattered for the class I decided to do something that I have never done in my school…
…I put up a display of the student’s work so far. Okay, not exactly riveting enough for you to click the ‘read more’ button, however, I had to overcome a hurdle to get to a point where my students had got to a point where they had been able to have the freedom to produce a piece of display work.
If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will have heard me moan about the lack of contact time. I will have seen each of my twenty classes approximately 20 x 100 minutes this year. I have a rigid scheme of work, rigid because I wrote it, because I wanted the students to learn as much as possible in the limited time we had. As a result, every 100min lesson has so far been a fast haste of 5-10 minute activities testing and practicing as much new vocabulary as possible completely controlled by myself not forgetting the starter, vocab test and plenary!
Anyway, with my lower ability classes, I wanted them to ‘celebrate’ what they had learned so far, so armed with their vocab books and a dictionary they had just learned how to use, I asked them to write me the longest piece of writing about themselves, and include opinions of what they liked and didn’t like, all in Spanish of course and after being given a demonstration and reminded of the C3B4ME principle.
They absolutely loved it and some produced epic pieces, some not wanting to put their pens down at all, some only managed three correct sentences, but they were sentences they had achieved independently, which is a big deal for some of our students. Below is the sample of the WIP display (my first ever in secondary).
Behaviour was not such an issue in the lower sets (C and D bands out of A, B, C, D) as the students were extremely engaged, they managed without every movement they made being dictated by me. More importantly, they benefitted from discovery learning – they chose the direction their writing went, they chose the vocabulary and even though some of the words may not have been written in my scheme (and some random ones I didn’t know myself) the students remembered their meanings as they were significant to them.
I tried a similar approach with my B bands, however they would have to take 5 sentences home and learn them by heart at the end of it all and were expected to cover more topics. Behaviour was not brilliant, one of my classes took 4 attempts at me explaing what they had to do and they were barely on task. One of the reasons I was always wary of ‘letting them go’ in the first place. I am still wondering for those groups, which is the best approach, although I am believeing that the dictator approach gets more work done overall, but does it mean the work is retained more?
On my PGCE I was first observed delivering an activity where I was acting as a facilitator and letting the students get on with it. It was okay to let those students go and explore and be independent because I didn’t actually have the responsibility of their overall outcomes… I was praised for doing that in my observation then as “some teachers find it hard to do”. Throughout my first term I became one of those teachers, changed what I was doing upoon reflection, and to some extent understood why some teachers did not exactly want to loosen their grip!
Does anyone else have to think about these issues in their subject? Pace, control of lesson correlating with poor behaviour?