As the sun sets …

First eight weeks have come and gone, so now I’m looking towards teh tail end of the term. It seems appropriate that this is the ‘tail end’, because the bulk of assessments have come and are waiting to be marked. It’s reasonably poor organisation (in my mind), as year 11, year 10, and year 9 have all had their across-the-form assessments in the week just gone, over two consecutive days. I would have thought a bit more spacing – even to get part way through one pile (before the next hit your desk) – would have been factored in.

Add to this the year 7 and 8 class-based assessments that have also been handed in, and I have a lot of marking to do. These two are more my own laziness and organisation; year 7 has been sitting around for a week and a bit now, year 8 could have been handed in earlier but I chose not to.

I don’t mind marking too much. I find my marks and reading of an essay are loosely connected with my current mood. This is why I have to mark at home, when I am completely removed from school and my ‘feelings’ for a class more fresh.

Speaking off, I really do enjoy my classes (for the most part). My year 7s have started to unwind a bit, having got used to high school now. I enjoy them, though they are overly demanding.

My year 8s are a very bottom class, so they are the exception to everyone else I teach. I am currently revisiting year 7 and 6 grammar work in order to get them to a level where they could write an extended response. They seem to be the group of kids that fell through the cracks when they couldn’t keep up with the very high expectations that teachers set in this class.

My year 9s are my favourite – ironic, because I loathed year 9s in all other schools I had taught in. We have been doing Shakespeare, which (surprisingly) I enjoyed as much as the kids. I recast the unit from ‘an appreciation of Shakespeare’ to ‘a criticism of Shakespeare’, and started by telling the kids that I (like all of them, a survey revealed prior to this discussion) hated studying Shakespeare. More on that in a later post, I hope.

My year 10s have been a challenge. It seems that they were under the impression they would be having the teacher that left the school (not the teacher I have replaced). So they have been quite resistant to me and my methods (which seem to be quite a distance away from this other teacher). We are about to start studying an area of study unit (the same one I did in year 12), and I think that this might be the ‘keep them or lose them’ point. If we don’t gel, they will start to think it’s all a chore. If we do, we should be able to make it together.

My year 11s are very enjoyable. A low standard English class, a large majority of them really want to learn stuff. They moan and groan about it all (we started with poetry, which is my favourite) but they are very keen to perform and get feedback. I am really hoping they they start to develop those higher order skills that get you far in life, rather than just focus on the raw marks that they are getting.

As for the school as a whole, the staff is exceptionally friendly in my faculty (and others, except the admin people). Technology, however, is berefit from the school. I assume that this is because they have attained good results through ‘tried and true’ methods, so why bother ‘experimenting’. I, however, and bucking that trend and am pushing technology in a heavy way. I find some people are resistant to it, but as many people are intrigued. Every week I have something new to show and discuss with them. I am thinking I will take time in the school holidays to really pile it into my upcoming units.

I say that I will have to wait for holidays to do it because, really, I am treading water. At any time I am either three or four lessons ahead or a couple of hours ahead. There have been mornings when I have had to come in half an hour early to plan a lesson and get it ready. I find it difficult to get ahead primarily because of the work required for each lesson. If I had maintained a routine to get ahead and then replace every ‘done’ lesson with a planned lesson, I would have been fine.

But I never got the chance to get too far ahead because I only found out what I was doing two days before I started ‘doing’. The holidays will afford me a chance to really get ahead, as well as ‘clean up’ (organise, finalise, reflect on, etc.) the trail I have left through Term 1.

I feel like this is what teaching should be, and not what I have been doing for the past year (or so). Of course, I think every teacher would agree with that, and then reply that some schools just can’t do it like my current school. To which I would reply in the affirmative. But seeing a range of schools, I don’t think that I want to leave this type of learning ‘environment’.

With that said, I do not get the feeling that I am ‘changing lives’/performing the same ‘social role’ that I played in previous schools. I certainly feel like I am educating these kids, and educating them well. I feel I do a better job that a lot of people (already). But I also feel that these kids are going  to always succeed, that they hardly have issues ‘outside of learning’, and will be a credit to themselves over time. Of course, I don’t know everyone’s personal story. But I don’t get those moments of realisation and clarity that I have seen previously. Kids here already have the framework in their heads, and giving them new data and information is like putting it into a computer: It knows what to do with it, how to do it, and only responds to you if there’s an error.

I miss that feeling, but I don’t know if it’s worth pursuing if it’s associated with all the ‘bad’ that comes with a school like that.

I haven’t had to yell at all so far. I’ve raised my voice when talking has got loud, but no yelling. I have had to give some ‘stern’ talks to whole classes (especially when they get lazy), but that is it. I have had a handful of kids back for detentions, but that’s just par at other schools.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my change of setting and would hope to stay here for some time more.I feel I have made the right decision – not just in staying at this school, but in actually entering the teaching profession.

Thomas.

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One thought on “As the sun sets …

  1. It is very annoying to be chasing your tail and being only a couple of lessons ahead! It is very frustrating, I know!

    But, as you teach the same topics in the future, you will free up more time to devote to either more school work or other pursuits!

    Enjoy!

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