Tuesday 25th January 2011
f I have a spell of inactivity, it usually makes the teaching more difficult . . . when it eventually arrives. Certainly, I felt cautious about approaching yesterday’s assignment, but I need not have worried as the classes mostly worked well for me. This was ‘floating’ in a local school, where I have worked previously.
In the morning, I was with a year 4 class that I knew, but had not taught since the last academic year. They settled quickly to the early morning task and the start of the first lesson, English. Here, the children read an extract from an ongoing text, in turn, which we discussed and found it was about Kitty who felt that being small was unfair. She learned that, while her brother was also small, he did not mind comments as long as they were friendly. Another child in the playground, Tom, she discovered, had his good features (he was tall), but was worried about his negative aspects (his ginger hair). Following a sentence task, the children had to produce a piece of writing in which they were required to imagine that kitty was approaching yet another child and asking them what they would change about themselves. It was also important to describe that child’s good features. Nevertheless, when I marked the books, I found myself writing the same comment, ‘Don’t forget their good features.’
Next lesson was maths. My instructions were to ensure the children finished sheets on halving and doubling, which they started yesterday. They were also to complete corrections, and could not move on to the next stage (quartering and multiplying by four, ie. halving and halving again/ doubling and doubling again), without doing so. Normally, I do not like finishing-off tasks, but this went fairly smoothly. My only real problem was that I was asked to explain the next stage to children individually, which goes against my instinct because you end up repeating the same thing over and over. That is what happened here and I was spread too thin. As a result the children became noisier and more unsettled.
During these two lessons, one child was chattier, more distracted and therefore more disruptive than anyone else. My frequent requests for co-operation were largely ignored. I found him irritating. At break I asked the class teacher, also the deputy, if she also found him irritating and she replied, “No, because I like him.” That was the end of the conversation, so I suppose the moral is: do not broach a child carefully, explain how he prevents you from teaching.
After play was ICT. The children were to draw a butterfly or landscape using the reflection in-one-plane feature of Revelation Natural Art. The class teacher explained this at break, adding, “Although they are familiar with the software, the children will ask pointless and repeated questions, because that is what they are like.” I found this a strange juxtaposition with her request to explain the maths individually and her previous comment about the child she liked. As it happened, most of the class worked hard on the activity and did not ask too many questions.
At lunchtime, I asked the head teacher where I was to be teaching, as he was conducting performance management interviews. He told me this was in both of the year 6 classes and gave me the sequence. The first teacher to be covered was present so she said she would explain the work. She was very vague and indecisive so this took about half an hour of the lunch break, which was less than an hour in any case. Eventually, it transpired that the class were researching WW2 from a prescribed website, with specific questions and writing the results in their topic books. I had to rush my lunch, while simultaneously marking books from the morning. The lesson with the first year 6 class was reasonable, although the boys seemed pre-occupied with listening to music with headphones that appeared freely available. In principle, I did not object to the music, but had to speak to them about the amount of time wasted on the music sites. Finding myself virtually taking the second year 6 class cold, I discovered they were drafting and producing neat copies of WW2 events for a class timeline. They were sensible, but had permission to go to the library, when they had finished and at one point there seemed to be more children out of the room than in. One child, a boy, managed to creep out without finishing, or having permission, but I managed to get him back.
On my way out of the school, I called in to speak to the secretary and she was trying to use software for a new online timesheet system which she had received that day. On Friday 21st, I had spoken to the agency about my lack of work and they said they had sent a password and user name for the new system. This seemed odd because I had recently checked my emails and seen nothing. Checking again and still finding nothing, I called again to be told that the head office would be contacted. At home on Tuesday, I found that I had been sent the details for the online forms and, after several hours, could not get it to work. Resolving to phone the agency the next day (today), I abandoned my efforts. This morning, with the page opened on the screen in front of me, I did indeed phone the agency and got them to explain the process while I followed step-by-step. Hopefully this will be successful. Passing the head teacher’s office on my way to the door, I said goodbye and he replied, “We’ll see you again soon.”
Originally posted on Wednesday, 26 January 2011