Hey there world …I’m back!

Woah there! After a massive hiatus, career change (new school, new role), house move etc… the blog is back! I am so glad to finally have somewhere nice to desposit my teachery thoughts and ideas, rather than scribbled on the back of a scrap piece of paper or drawn on my hand in the obligatory red pen! I promise to start in earnest next week … hopefully with some teachery ideas to make our lives easier and our classrooms brilliant places to learn!

Exit Tickets!

Looking for an interesting way to end a lesson? Then these are all over the internet at the moment … here’s a fab example. (http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/exit-ticket)

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Get every student in your class to complete an exit ticket before they can leave your room. It’s a great way to collate information on what they have learnt, progress made and any questions they may want answered in the next lesson. Great little token to keep in a progress folder too!

Ramblings of a tired teacher ….

Oh my word! It’s definitely been one of those fortnight’s where everything that could possible happen, happened! Parents Evening, Ofsted, birthdays, big meetings ….. I am frazzled! Not to mention massively under prepared for the rest of this weeks lessons! We have all been there, so I figured sharing some ideas / advice for those days where we are super time strapped might be nice!

  1. Video time! But only if its useful. You can make it more interesting by keeping a stack of grids broken down in to 2 minute segments by your desk. Students can’t write during the video but stop it every two minutes and challenge them to see what they can remember. (Tip: you can then use this as a scaffold to help them write an extended piece about the video).
  2. Open up a market place. In small groups students each research a different part of the topic and prepare an A3 sheet of information (you can limit words to make it more interesting) which they will use to share their learning with others. Once complete one member of the group acts as the trader and stays with the sheet whilst other students go out to market and visit the other stalls to collect information from them. By the end of it, each group should have all the information they need about a topic! Boom!
  3. Think about how you can use the class to create resources, materials, exam questions etc… Very little preparation for you, but lots of return.
  4. Post it note challenge. Students get ten post it notes to summarise the key information from a chapter or piece of text. They can then only use the post its to answer a set of questions, or produce an extending piece of writing. All you need to do is keep a stash of post it notes in your drawer.

I have learnt from experience that rushed lessons are never great so these are the little beauties I always come back to when its been one of those weeks!

I nearly failed my PGCE … but I am still here now!

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I am going to be totally honest about my PGCE. At times it wasn’t the most positive or enjoyable experience and I wasn’t always sure (and neither was my tutor) that teaching was the career for me. But I am so glad that I stuck with it!  I guess this post goes out to all those people who are yet to find their teaching mojo and are questioning whether they will ever become the outstanding teacher that we all aspire to be! Well I was that person, I got told to think about whether teaching was really the career for me … I was hopeless (no really I was) …  but now I am (according to my last couple of observations) outstanding and have been lucky enough to be both a Head of Department and Head of Year. More importantly though, I love my job!

So if you are currently struggling through your PGCE / NQT year my advice to you would be …

  • Own your classroom. If you want something done a particular way then make sure that it happens. Never compromise with students. The minute they see that they can manipulate you, they will …. at every opportunity!
  • Sometimes it takes a while to find your own style. No two teachers are the same, and whilst you spend time trying to copy others you are wasting time finding your own individual style.
  • Say ‘thanks’, ‘hi’, ‘how was your weekend?’ to your students. Invest time in getting to know them and create a positive environment where they feel comfortable to learn.
  • Go out and watch other people teach. There will be aspects of different peoples style, management and teaching that you will think could really work for you. Steal it! Remember what works well and repeat it. If it doesn’t work for you … discard it  …. quickly!
  • Group work isn’t the answer to everything. Some classes will find this really difficult and it will take time to build up the skills they need to work well in group situations. Get to know the students and choose tasks that work well for them.
  • Create a memory bank of quick no-prep activities that you can use to fill those awkward times when work just doesn’t take as long as you planned!
  • Be yourself … I spent the first half of my PGCE trying to be someone I wasn’t. Now I am very much myself. I am loud, I try new things that don’t always work, I can’t add up for toffee, I love cake …. my students know all of this and I like to think it is part of my charm!
  • Keep Friday and Saturdays nights school free … crack open the vino, pop on a DVD and reward yourself for all your hard work!

This post may be no help to you at all, but I guess there is comfort in knowing you are not alone!

Using Dice in lessons!

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All you need are a simple pair of dice

(or the neat electronic version at http://www.curriculumbits.com/mathematics/virtual-dice/  )

Help add an element of chance and fun to lessons by using dice to tell students what they need to do!

For example:

  • The roll of the first dice tells the students how many statements, sentences, facts etc…. they need to come up with.
  • The roll of the second dice tells them which part of the topic you are studying they need to write about. For example in English Literature each number could represent a different character in a book you are reading.

or …

  • The role of the first dice tells the students how many statements, facts, sentences they need to write about a particular topic.
  • The roll of the second dice tells them how many minutes they have to complete the task.

Note: You can change the command word for students on this second example to help differentiate.

At least there is no argument when it comes down to the roll of a dice!

Teaching chit chat … go grab yourself a cuppa!

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