There was a time when the best thing I’d find in the pockets of a coat or jacket would be a fiver (result!) or a load of shrapnel – I’ve found all sorts of things after nutty nights out I can tell you! But, nowadays it seems that every pocket of every item of clothing has either an empty (to clarify for Julia who thinks they’d be full ones!) dog poo bag or a dog biscuit. How my life has changed!!
My teaching life has also changed beyond recognition – I have time to prepare and plan properly. That’s not to say that I never did it properly before by the way … just that everything seems more achievable now. My non-contacts aren’t taken up dealing with other stuff and anything I don’t get done in school time I am more than happy to do at home. The main thing is that by having only two classes I don’t feel swamped by the scale of my “to do” list … as to whether this lasts … we’ll see.
My new gaffer (Matt Fox) has been ace -> we were meant to teach adjacent sets in year 11 (2 and 3) and we sat down in week 1 and decided to “supergroup” them … we have been lucky enough to have another teacher that we could add to the mix to take those kids that were working at C+/4+ at the end of year 10 from set 2 to make a small group that can plough on, whilst the remainder of our two groups make the new “supergroup” – it’s not as “super” in terms of size as some of you will be fearing … there are 40 students so were we to split them the class sizes would be quite small but having them together is about doing something different to their previous maths diet. The school has an amazing space that we’re using so we aren’t crammed into a normal classroom. To be honest, it’s been weird doing this with someone other than Seager and after dancing around each other for the first couple of lessons I think we’re developing our own modus operandii. The other benefit of team teaching is having someone else who, over time will come to know the students as well as you do and being able to discuss them is invaluable.
In the same way that last year, Seager and I focussed on the crossover topics, Matt and I are doing the same and I’ve introduced new “bread and butter” starters that are cumulative so that we have some proper interleaved practice based on what we are teaching … so for example the first week we taught two-way tables, frequency trees and venn diagrams and so the following week the starter sheets included practice questions on these topics – this is something I’ve always wanted to do! Last week we did prime factors and multiples in context and so the sheets now also include these topics … obviously I can’t keep adding topics (otherwise the sheets would become mahoosive) so as we move down our topic list I will drop earlier topics but revisit them every few weeks by dropping in a question (monitoring this through a spreadsheet). I should add that Seager is also teaching the same stuff at his school, as that’s what we did last year so I’m still drip feeding his lessons … some things never change!
The other thing we’re doing is out of necessity – I’ve always missed a lesson a week with year 11 (last year due to my Edexcel work) and this year because I’m only part time so Matt is doing a weekly test with them – last year Seager used the crossover questions from the practice papers, as that was all we had to go on but this year I’ve gone all poncey and have decided to call them “review points” which are basically an accumulation of topics taught to date with a focus on that week’s topics and already this has enabled us to identify where we need to do some focussed intervention with a couple of students.
One of the things that I have also had the time to do is produce edition 1 of a newsletter to the parents of the “supergroup” with the intention of providing regular updates and also providing hints about what students can be doing to either support recent topics or to prepare for upcoming topics too. To be honest, I’m a bit wary about talking about this one because I don’t want people to think I’m advocating it for all groups or for it to become standard practice … I just don’t think that with a full teaching load much of what is asked of teachers is possible as it is but one of the benefits of co-teaching is that the load is shared to some extent.
On a final note, I have to tell you this … Two boys asked to sit next to each other telling me that “they worked well together” (yeah, yeah, yeah … we’ve all fallen for that at some point!) but these two really did work well … one of them had missed a lesson and the other asked if he could have his mates book to copy up the work for him at lunch time. I have never had such a thing happen to me and this blew me away – it reminded me of the importance of giving students a fresh start and not to go in as a new teacher with any pre-conceived ideas based on past experience.
Hope your first few weeks went as well as mine x