A hectic weekend

Starting the weekend without my usual 2 hour dog walk, coffee and sonoma toast routine really threw me Saturday morning. I was actually less productive in the time I set aside to get started on assignments and prac work than I would have been had I ventured out. I blame Twitter.

Yes I have finally joined the alternate universe which is Twitter. And now I am an addict. I completely blame my master teacher for introducing me to all these fantastic ways of connecting with people (edmodo, blogging, twitter), and opening up a world of opportunity to connect my classroom with classrooms all over the world (quite exciting really!). When I say ‘blame’ of course I mean ‘thank’.

So now, I spent the weekend procrastinating on these web tools instead of completing a legal studies assignment (which is frankly quite boring) and starting an English assessment.

After completing my first worksheets and sending them off to my master teacher for feedback, I was surprised that I didn’t get told to start again. Only a few things needed editing! Sigh of relief. Got that sorted first thing on Monday morning via a whispered conversation during a yr 11 exam. Teacher skill-using time wisely: tick!

Monday was interesting, I observed “circle time” with yr 9-such a miracle that you can get 30 kids sitting on the floor listening intently to their peers experiences and sharing their own. Definitely a great way to introduce a PBL focus unit!

We also decided to turn the new PBL units into a game, with teams, leaderboards and prizes to motivate the students to complete individual and group tasks. A great way to utilise all the masculine energy we have in the classroom!

I was also able to observe a different style of teaching, one which was based around yelling, issuing confusing instructions, not being enthusiastic about the work and not listening to the students. Needless to say, this teacher is quite unpopular with the kids. It really demonstrated to me the importance of laying down the ground rules with students and ensuring students understand them before issuing punishments; these students were genuinely confused about what they were supposed to be doing, why they had been given detention, and most of all they felt like they had been jipped. I felt really sympathetic; how could they concentrate on learning when they wanted a question answered but the teacher wouldn’t listen to them.

Reading a novel aloud in class-sounds relatively simple. But the teacher managed to make it ultra boring. No expression, no voice projection, no varying of her tone, pitch or volume. She tried to get other students to read, but no one showed any interest-and why would they when her attitude indicated it was the most boring thing in the world. I almost fell asleep. When I read Animal Farm to the yr 9 students later that day, I paid very close attention to the way I used my voice. I spoke in an animated way, and even used a distinguished mock-English voice in Major’s speech. And I didn’t even wuss out on the song!

I think what I learnt NOT to do today was just as valuable as the tips I found useful to incorporate into my own practice. Am slightly anxious as Thursday approaches-my first lesson! Thankfully it is with yr 11-a good class for the most part. No doubt Thursday night’s blog will offer a chance to reflect upon the experience.