Welcome to my Blog which combines the unlikely topics of supply teaching with progressive rock. Here you will find my ongoing 'Diary of a Surviving Supply Teacher' and a variety of lists/ timelines/ articles on progressive rock.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A Half Day Becomes a Whole Day

Wednesday, 02 February 2011

y assignment today was for a morning with year 3 in a familiar local school. The class teacher appeared disorganised and despite arriving early, I was still not entirely clear about the work when I had to go and collect the children from the playground. Part of the problem was that the work took the form of Active Primary flipcharts on the interactive whiteboard and I could not load two for separate lessons simultaneously. As is always the case, I did not know the whereabouts of the files on the server. He informed me that he was leaving at half-term and the children were very unsettled. One boy in particular was ‘terrible’.

The first lesson was maths and the projector would not work, so I had to manually write and draw the maths on a very small whiteboard. Fortunately, the class had a good knowledge of finding and labelling a half on a plane shape and it was possible to proceed with the lesson. The children had shapes on worksheets on which they were to find and label halves and quarters. Since the same shapes were repeated, it seems they were supposed to find different ways of finding the fractions, but this was not pointed out to me and I had not the time to notice between being given the sheets and the start of the lesson. We managed to track down the teacher, who was in school, and get the projector working for the second lesson, English. Here I had to show the children a list of six words to begin asking questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. Using a device on the Active Primary flipcharts on the interactive whiteboard I partially revealed an ancient Egyptian picture on a piece of papyrus (bit-by-bit). Again, fortunately, the children were good at coming up with questions, such as, “Why are there birds at the top of the picture?” In groups the pupils, were required to list half a dozen questions beneath pictures of ancient Egypt. Apparently, these were to be later used as part of a ‘British Museum’ competition on writing an information leaflet for year 2 visitors, although I am not sure if this was real or imaginary. 

At break, I could explain to the teacher that the class were not noisy as he had stated – he had earlier claimed they were, “Lovely, but noisy.” One child misbehaved and had to be warned, with his name on the board, according to the school policy. This, I was told, was likely to make him worse. After play, consisting of finishing-off tasks, the situation would change. A checklist of four tasks was to be photocopied for the children, but I did not receive them at all, so I wrote them on the whiteboard. The children were slow to organise themselves, used delaying tactics, quarrelled and claimed to have finished. At the centre of these, was the aforementioned boy, who reached his three crosses next to his name. Inflaming him more and contrary to my understanding of the school policy, this class used pegs instead of crosses on the board. By the time he was standing in the doorway, gesturing to me with his fingers and declaring his intention to leave the room, the class teacher appeared and took him away. In the subsequent calm, one of the girls apologised for his behaviour. Another advised me to, “Just ignore him.”  A third said, “I don’t think you should have to shout to be heard over our noise.” Agreeing with all of them, I reassured them that it was not their fault, explained that I could not ignore the defiance and admitted that I could hear my own voice getting louder.

Debriefing with the classroom teacher, he agreed with the crosses and said he would have sent for the head teacher if necessary. I described the rest of the class’s maturity in understanding the situation. In the midst of these events, the secretary asked if I could stay on to work the afternoon in year 6. Of course I accepted and she said she would arrange a school dinner as a duty meal. A little girl from the previous class invited me to have my lunch with her and we discussed her visit, last night, to her mother in hospital.

Year 6 was straightforward, the main miscreant having been ‘kicked in the throat’ during a playground football match after lunch. When it was explained, in front of the class, that he had gone home, I had to control myself by not shouting, “Yippee!” The task was to make a view finder to position over one character, in a reproduction of a Henry Moore painting, and to reproduce/enlarge this by sketching in an A4 sketch book. I was able to demonstrate the making of the viewfinder, cut, with an aperture, from half a sheet of A4 and show the class an example of the finished sketch from another class. I understand these were to be used as the basis of later creating a wire sculpture. The children did very well, although, as is so often the case, many drew an excellent sketch that was far too small. It’s not easy for them to reproduce and enlarge at the same time. My fear was that the class would finish too early, doing a superficial sketch and saying ‘finished’, so their teacher agreed to return for the next stage, but it was not needed. If they did finish they could get a laptop and complete a comprehension task in the ‘Whizz Kids’ software. I had to remind some boys of the task and not to download music! By 3 o’clock we were sitting in an assembly. Someone pointed out that the class had to sit boy-girl, boy-girl until half term, if this was not satisfactory they would be positioned in front of year three. Surprisingly, the boys welcomed this, but, understandably, the girls were reluctant. Mostly, they were co-operative.

Tuesday, 01 February 2011

 had been with year 4, in the same school, in the previous morning, having received a late call at around 08:30am. During the dinner register, one of the boys burped loudly, looked at me, laughed and drew a round of laughter from those around him. I spoke to him in no uncertain terms and he lost his bravado. A deathly hush subsequently filled the room. The class worked hard on writing the first part of a story from a storyboard created on Monday. Continuing a story, like finishing-off, is not one of my favourite tasks, because I do not know the story.  How many times do you hear, “They know what to do.” As if pupil or teacher are reliable and you share that confidence. Maths consisted of converting data from a tally chart, created yesterday, into a bar chart and a pictogram. A reasonable task made awkward by the fact that the projector did not work, leaving me without a full size whiteboard or one with squares. Forgetting the sequence, I got the class to construct the pictogram first, but they made a fair effort and demonstrated a good knowledge. After play, the class joined the other in the hall to practise a year group assembly, so I was a spare part in crowd control. 

Originally posted on Wednesday, 02 February 2011

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