“There are many vital ways and times at which we need to plan intervention beyond responding to scores and levels and for far more honourable reasons than massaging examination results.”—Gary Wilson, 2007
“What happens all to frequently is that negative stereotyping of boys often masks their true potential. If our perceptions of them are as effective learners, then undoubtedly that is what they will become.”—Gary Wilson, 2007
In the first few minutes of your lessons, what tips/ tricks have you discovered for settling the class and making a smooth start/ smooth transition?
I’ve picked up a few things along the way - but feel free to ‘reply’ with your tried and tested ideas!
Meet your pupils at the classroom door - greet them as you would an adult, and use the time to give any reminders or ‘polite’ notices about their uniform etc.
Have something to get on with - as pupils are walking in, or on the board/ their desks ready, have a short activity to get on with and to wake their brains up!
Have someone who hands books/ work out for you as soon as they enter - it helps to use the same people, to build up a routine.
Share the learning objectives and reason for covering this with pupils - handy to have it ready on the board/ PowerPoint slide etc and to take them through it. You can also get pupils to ‘explain’ back to you, and the class, what you’ll be doing and why.
Be Welcoming - A positive start is much more likely to create a positive atmosphere and environment. Treat pupils with some respect. If you had a difficult lesson last time, don’t carry it forward in to this new lesson.
Hi! When asked the "why do you want to teach" question, I actually told a story about the teacher that inspired me to teach. I talked about the positive attributes she held and weaved this into my own skills and passions. This was quite positively received. It showed that I had thought about my reasons for teaching and I was able to convey real enthusiasm rather than relaying a boring answer I'd learnt off by heart. :)
Yes fantastic! That’s the kind of careful, thoughtful response schools/ universities and colleges are looking for.
As we approach the new school year, here in the UK, I am revisiting this very important question - why do people want to be teachers?
There are many responses to this. The longer I spend in the profession, the more answers I come up with…and they can sometimes change depending on the time of year!
Trevor Wright (2008) gives many answers to this fundamental question, and many of them I agree with. He also claims that this is a key question to expect at PGCE/ GTP/ Teaching post interviews - one thing that you can expect to be asked and should be ready to answer.
When faced with this question, don’t say ‘It’s what I always dreamed of doing’ … be careful here; until you become a teacher, you really don’t fully comprehend the demands and nuances of the profession, and so your answer suggests you don’t really know what it is you want - rather, you have an idealised view of it all.
Some reasons for wanting to teach, that suggest you’ve thought a little more about your decision to move in this direction, might include some of the following:
To continue to learn. This is a reasonable expectation, and one that showcases a desire to continue to develop and learn (a big part of being a teacher is CPD - Continued Professional Development). This also shows you would have the necessary mindset for education itself - the learning doesn’t stop with that QT certificate!
To have a career that is rewarding. …and teaching absolutely is! Making progress with children and helping them become independent learners is a huge part of what keeps us all going, through the long weeks of reports, lesson planning and marking. The job really is rewarding, and can give you a great sense of satisfaction. However, always remember there will be times when things are also somewhat challenging!
To share my passion for my subject. Great! Fantastic! This is a great starting point - but on it’s own, it won’t be enough. Since starting teaching, I’ve realised that while I was good at English at school, and I did English Language A Level - plus my degree in English Language and Linguistics - none of this has really been relevant to what I teach. I have had to teach myself a lot of what I teach the students; I need to read and analyse the texts before I can think about teaching it as a unit of work (and every text I’ve taught so far has been one I didn’t know previously). So, passion for your subject isn’t enough - this reason needs to be combined with other reasons, as well as an interest in the subject of education itself (because that’s something you’ll also be studying).
To be creative and have fun. It is a big part of your performance, to make lessons enjoyable and to be creative - allowing students freedom to be independent but to enjoy their learning. It’s tough! But, creative and original approaches to teaching are essential. Yet, being creative alone will not help students learn or progress - careful planning is about knowing what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it - playing chemical reaction hop scotch is pointless if they don’t need to know anything about it!
Of course, there are many more reasons that you may have for becoming a teacher, but that interview question is an important one. It needs consideration, thought and a little research. So if you’re in the midst of applying/ starting… ask yourself: “Why do you want to be a teacher?”.
In a recent article “Are we Outsourcing our Memories?” Rabbi Aaron Ross, Ed.D. writing in Free Technology for Teachers began his blog post by quoting from a slide that hangs in his office: ““If your students can Google the answer, then you are asking the wrong question.” At almost exactly…
Teaching is a profession that allows you to constantly research, reflect and develop your skills and knowledge - one of the best things about this job! Last September, I vowed to try and read a little more on the aspects of our profession and to try new things; I hadn’t read anything since NQT year! I discovered that there is plenty out there to enjoy, learn from - and even laugh out loud at!
Here are some books I recommend from PGCE/ NQT, that are still useful now:
'How to Teach' by Phil Beadle. Amazon review: “This book cuts through all the rubbish and helps you to prioritise on what is important and what you need to do to get your children engaged and learning. There are plenty of short-cuts to help, inspire and guide you through the first year and you and you may even find yourself laughing out loud at the familiar antics of the children, SLT, OfStead inspectors and the stressed out teachers, which I had become one of them.
'The Lazy Teacher's Handbook' by Jim Smith. Amazon review: "Truly, this is a breath of fresh air. Jim Smith’s book gives permission to teachers to step back and delight in the opportunities for learning that they create. This book provides a practical, real and valuable set of tried and tested approaches that allow teachers to let the learning flow from and with the students."
'Teaching Today: A Practical Guide' by Geoff Petty. Amazon Review: “This book was definitely a revelation. Fantastically planned and very easy to read, it has been the a definite staple of my reference diet since the start of the academic year. It provides handy tips and ideas on dealing with students and looks at the psychology behind the whole event without once sounding patronising or condescending in any way. If you are new to education - especially further education which has a dearth of resources - this is invaluable. If you buy no other book for your educational career, you need to buy this!”
'Essential Teaching Skills' by Chris Kyriacou. Amazon Review: "…. I have found this book invaluable, both for new and trainee teachers in clearly outlining essential aspects of classroom practice, and for experienced teachers as a reminder of those essential aspects in an engaging and refreshing way"
'How to be a Brilliant Teacher' by Trevor Wright. Trevor Wright was my PGCE Secondary English Tutor - his advice has continued to work for me, 4 years on. He also has similar books for ‘Trainee Teachers’, ‘English Teachers’ and ‘Mentors’.
'Guerilla Guide to Teaching: The Definitive Resource for New Teachers' by Sue Cowley. Amazon Review: "Cowley includes the transcripts of extensive interviews with all different types of people working in education, from student teachers to managers and representatives from teaching unions, which makes it realistic and very practical.
The book is split into clearly defined sections, comprising questions and answers from Cowley’s own experience, interviews and bullet pointed lists which make it easier to dip into. There are detailed case studies of planning […] blank planning sheets for you to adapt. […] the most complete guide I have come across for those starting in teaching or those already involved in education”
When you start your PGCE (and possibly even GTP) - you will probably not be given a ‘Teacher’s Planner’.
It is worthwhile investing in one so that you can take care to organise yourself and keep good records of homework being handed in, absenteeism, levels and grades (including targets and predictions).
However - don’t rush to buy one, as it will depend greatly on your school’s day e.g. how many lessons? How long do they last etc? So - I would advise you wait until second placement, and then use a planner to help you through! It is also a great way to collect evidence.
1. I don’t often give homework but I did this week. In one class, only 4 students turned it in on time. So anyone who didn’t turn it in got an email to their parents/guardian. A TON showed up today, with maybe a dozen or so not turned in today. So I personally called and either spoke to or left a…
Reblogged, as I found it both interesting and positive.
I thought that I might try to sum up some of my key ideas here, and then as I go along, tag any other posts/ reblogs with this tag so that they can be found more easily. As a PGCE Secondary English Mentor in my school, I deal with new teachers all year round, and I give them this same advice.
So, here goes…
Invest in a good bag. As a new teacher, you will no doubt be in numerous rooms/ sites/ buildings for your lessons and that means carrying around all of the books and equipment you need. A good bag is essential in helping you do this, and stay organised too!
Invest in a good external Hard Drive/ USB memory stick. You will likely be working at home when planning, writing reports, doing assignments etc. Having somewhere you can back up all your work and access it easily anywhere within work/ home will make life easier. Trust me.
Erasable board pens. Buy some. Then buy a few more and keep them stashed in that good bag I told you about. You will always need one, often when you don’t have one. People will ‘borrow’ them and not return them - annoying, but true I’m afraid!
Have a good support network. This is divided up - you can’t have all your eggs in one basket. What I mean by this is that you need family and friends around you, to love you and listen to you (as well as spend time with you away from work). However, these people often think that you’re job starts at 9, ends at 3 and often requires little or no effort - so they DON’T always understand the pressures you’re facing or the emotions you’re feeling. In this case, you need your other basket of eggs. This is where you have somebody who is like you, a teacher, and understands what you’re dealing with. They might be your mentor, fellow PGCE/ GTP/ NQT, or even just a friend who is also a teacher.
Take time out. It is SO easy for this job to take over and rule your life, but find time every week that is for you. I often set aside Saturday as a non-working day. Use this day to see your friends, family and loved ones. Alternatively, read a book, watch a film, etc. Just don’t do work!
Be organised. What I mean here is - use your diary, use your teacher planner, use your calendar and know what’s happening when. Things like parents’ evenings, department meetings, staff meetings, data input deadlines, report deadlines, assessment hand in dates - they all sneak up on you. Get them in your diary and know when they’re coming, so you can start working on them before hand.
Be Organised - part 2. Now you’ve got your dates and deadlines -start organising everything else. Keep classes separate - a plastic wallet/ folder for each so that resources, marking, homework, lesson plans do not get muddled and lost. Do the same on your USB/ external hard drive - keep planning separate. It is important to know what you’re doing, when and with which class.
Have somewhere to work. This is crucial. When I did my PGCE, I sat up for hours every night, sitting on my bed, trying to mark, plan and write assessments, because I didn’t have somewhere to work. So, my mum helped me buy a small desk and a chair. Bingo. Minimal room-much better working environment. Now, I often stay after hours at school - in my room/ library PC and work for a few hours. Printing done there, without costing me money! When I work at home, I have my new desk (so long as my fiancée isn’t hogging the PC too much!).
Healthy Lifestyle. OK, so I’m being a little hypocritical here. This is something I’ve only just begun to understand myself, but yes - eating clean and taking part in some kind of activity/ exercise will help you feel better. There are some dark days/ months ahead and eating cake 24/7 might seem like the only way to cope, but eventually it’ll catch you up and you’ll feel bad for it. Also - there are times when you think you’re too busy to eat and drink - no. You’re not. Eat your lunch and drink plenty through the day - your body needs it so you can do your job, and do it well.
Enjoy, reflect and rethink. Teaching is a rewarding and enjoyable job. There are moments when you will not believe you’re lucky enough to do this every day. In contrast, there are days when it really was hell and you want to cry. But, no matter which day it was - take the time to reflect on what did/ didn’t go well and identify what you need to do again, and what it is you need to change. Then do it.
Hope this has been useful. It’s certainly helped me the last few years.
Ooooh, I loved reading this! Here’s one as an example:
“We’re going on vacation for a week. Can you put together a packet of my daughter’s work so she doesn’t fall behind?”
You may think you’re doing the responsible thing, but unfortunately, this typical request is a bit insulting. “You’re implying you can replace teaching with a packet of worksheets,” says Jan Copithorne, a middle school special education teacher in Highland Park, IL. On top of that, “it’s a lot of extra work to anticipate everything that will happen in class over a week and put it together for one child.” Because kids miss so much when they’re kept out of school, Copithorne advises against pulling them out for an extended period, unless there’s a truly important event or a family emergency. If you’re set on your plans, ask the teacher for a general overview, like what chapters will be covered in each subject, and accept that your child will need to play catch-up when you get home.
'twas the night before results and all was quiet...
Well, actually, no. All is not quiet!
It is the night before the GCSE results are officially available to students across the UK, and tonight there will be sleepless nights aplenty - and that’s just the teachers!
I, like many other Secondary/ High school teachers, will be thinking about the consequences of the results my class achieves, and the results of my school as a whole. Will a reduction in A*-C pass rate bring Ofsted back in? Will my department have to start reporting on a weekly basis how many ‘milli-points’ of progress we’ve achieved with little Katie this week?
Just what will tomorrow’s results mean?…
Well, sadly this is something that shows our society has lost focus, somewhat. Tomorrow’s results should be about my class, those individuals - what they deserved and what they wanted, and importantly what that means for them now. Some of them want to stay on at Sixth Form, others can’t wait to leave and go to…yes you guessed it….college. While many - ‘have had enuff’.
Yet, the media will no doubt focus on ‘how easy the exams have become’ and how ‘little effort is required by the teacher and pupil’ to achieve that grade A.
What the media, society - and actually many parents - don’t realise is that us teachers give blood, sweat and tears to get little Mikey through Y9,10 and 11 with a grade C at the end. Mikey doesn’t care; he wants to play football with his mates and tell you to ‘shut up’ on a regular basis. Whereas, Lucy wants more than anything to get a B grade and is unlikely to scrape a C - no matter how hard she tries and no matter how much her parents want it!
It’s all hugely unfair and it’s extremely stressful. How do we cope? What do we do to push ourselves through it, year after year - keeping up with the changing hoops?
Well - we do it because tomorrow most of my class will get what they deserve, hopefully. If I’m lucky, they’ll get what they’re predicted. They’ll get accepted to sixth form or college. They’ll get enough to start an apprentice at the local mechanics or beauty room - and that, that will be enough of a reward.