New Year’s Resolutions

The school year ended yesterday and I said a final goodbye to one of the more difficult classes of my career. So now I’m taking stock and trying to think of what I want to do next year to improve my teaching and the learning of my pupils.

I think that this really falls into 2 categories. The first is the concrete side of what I actually do in the classroom. This is probably the easiest to think of and to implement. The second is a lot harder, how do I change what I do to improve things for my pupils? It’s easy to think of things that I need to change, my reactions to certain situations etc, the hard thing is actually to implement that  change when I’m actually on the spot.

My class were a large class which had 23 boys out of a total of 35 pupils. This itself isn’t a problem. I enjoy teaching boys and generally have a very good relationship with them (my own son gave my very good training). However this year I had several difficult children who I felt that I never truly got to grips with. 

I have just read thoughtweaver’s thoughts on making positive relationships with children.
http://thoughtweavers.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/94/
I agree with all of what the author says, my problem this year was that my 3 main problems did not fit into the general stereotype of badly behaved boys. These 3 were all very intelligent children who often seemed to deliberately choose to behave badly for their own reasons. I am disappointed that I didn’t manage to make the links with them that I wanted to and as a result they probably didn’t make the progress that they could have.

Knowing the children is important though, especially in large classes where it is hard to give them all the attention they need. My aim next year is to try and spend at least a couple of minutes with each child, just chatting, maybe while out on playground duty. It would be great to do this every week but I feel that would be impossible. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do over a period of 2-3 weeks though and by the end of a term I would hopefully have a better idea of who they all are.

It’s easy to say that I will do this but my days are jam packed and over and over again I get home to realise that I still have a long list of things that I meant to do but completely forgot about. Maybe making a list of the children I want to talk to will help. Lists always help I think. The very act of making one seems to put you a little more in control.

The other thing that I want to improve is how I react to poor behaviour. I’ve never had children that I haven’t had a good relationship with until this year and I certainly don’t want to repeat it. Children won’t make progress if they don’t feel comfortable and happy in school. I need to find ways of getting through to those difficult children, ways of moderating their behaviour that have a positive feel rather than negative sanctions.

Having identified things that I can do, then I need to actually remember to implement them. It is incredibly easy just to react in the usual way. That didn’t work this year. I need to pause before reacting and give myself time to think before I deal with the situation.

Next year I will be the model teacher and my class will be the perfect class!

Watch this space!

 

 

Gulliver’s Travels

I spent a fantastic day today working with theatre professionals connected with Curve Theatre in Leicester and some of my year 5’s. This was a transition project involving some of year 5 from each of the feeder high schools with funding secured by the high school.

The group are working with various groups of children to put ideas together that will eventually become a performance of Gulliver’s Travels.

The day included a whole variety of activities ranging from warm ups and exercises for all 40 children, paired work and group activities. Each group of 6-8 children had a ‘facilitator’ to work with. How often does a group of children that size get to work with an adult for a sustained period? So often in school, you spend a few minutes with each group and feel that you have done well if you manage to work with every group. Having a professional work with each group meant that the children all got very high quality input and all had a chance to get their voice and ideas heard.

I loved the mini Lilliput puppets that the children all made out of skipping rope type rope, pipe cleaners and garden ties. These were such a simple idea and relatively quick to make but provided a great focus for the drama work on Lilliput.

The highlight of the day was when the children worked in groups to dramatise the part of the story where Gulliver is in the land of the giants. My favourite group was the one that worked together to create a giant eagle. It was at least 3metres long and had a wing span of about the same. It was constructed by 14 children in 30 minutes out of a variety of equipment including cycle tyres, bamboo poles, fabric and lots of duct tape. Apparently yesterday they built ships outside! It is really amazing what children can produce with a bit of input, equipment and the space to work.

Sadly I won’t be able to be at the third and final day but look forward to hearing what they get up to. I have lots of ideas that I am wondering where to include next year and the children got an immeasurable amount from the work they did.

Now the hard work starts.

I am now approaching the half way point of the second year of the Primary Maths Specialist teacher course. My Professional Learning Log has been looked at and signed off by the LA consultant. All that I have to do now is to write my assignment!

No worries there then.

A mere 5000 words detailing my school based research that I have or am currently carrying out. It doesn’t sound too difficult but I am approaching a state of near panic.

One of the problems is that my ideas are all too woolly. I’ve had months to sort this out but still don’t really feel that I have a specific question to investigate. It’s all a bit vague. I want to look at whether increasing the use of practical resources at KS2 can help children feel more involved in maths lessons. In my school maths consistently remains one of the least popular subjects, especially in upper KS2. I was hoping that more opportunities to use concrete apparatus might make this apparent dislike less.

It sounds quite specific but the more I look into it, the more I realise that it is actually a huge area.

A big problem is also that although staff seemed keen on the idea, they haven’t actually done much in practice so that I don’t really have an awful lot to research.

The lead tutor from my university is coming to talk it through with me in just over a week so I’ve got that long to really try and get to grips with it. If I don’t, then I don’t think that I will get the most out of her visit.

One of the other course tutors has recently finished her masters and recommended a book ‘How to do Your Research Project’ by Gary Thomas. This arrived yesterday and certainly seems as though it might have some useful ideas and strategies.

Step for this weekend is to try and get my rationale sorted out. I want to really pin down what I am going to do and why. I know that I need to cut out the waffle and be a lot more succinct. Then I need to see what opportunities there may be in school over the next week to look at what is actually happening in at least a couple of lessons.

Nothing like leaving things until the last minute. I always used to tell my son off for doing that. Now I know who he gets it from!