How to work in the holidays

Option 1: Don’t

Option 2: After doing three poorly attended two hour holiday revision sessions, completely re-write the whole of y7 8 and 9 schemes of work for next term, including the latest pedagogical nuggets and tips you have picked up from twitter, blogs and that excellent just-published book by the Professor of intricate and unnecessary classroom practice. Then edit and adapt in detail the perfectly decent scheme of work for y10 your colleague wrote last summer. Enthusiastically email them your suggestions and tweaks, receiving no reply – ever. Blog the feck out of all your efforts and tweet to death the link to your blog, hoping someone with 10 times more followers than you re-tweets it.

Option 3: Promise yourself to a) mark those 3 classes of books that somehow escaped your green pen for the whole of the last half term (or ‘term’ if you are under 26) b) get at least the bones of the first week’s lessons for the new GCSE planned and c) find out what you are teaching for the morning’s lessons up to your free on Monday which is either period 3 or 4. Or maybe just the first half hour of the day – after all you can plan the rest of Monday’s lessons if they are busy for 20 minutes in lesson 1

No one needs help with option 1, I have no experience at all with option 2 so you’re on your own there. As for the final possibility, the best way is to bring your marking home and leave it in the boot of your car so you don’t see it until the day you tackle it. Then do it one day with the music turned up loud and reward yourself with chocolate, or whatever floats your boat, every 15 books or so. Leave the planning part until the day before. This will help you focus your mind and you will spend less time faffing about looking for a good picture for your opening powerpoint slide (unless you work at Michaela). Then put out your work clothes for Monday morning, find your shoes and classroom keys and finish for the day.

Advertisements

Pissed off by a poster

I know I should let it go, move on and worry about bigger things. But today this cheery poster got my goat.


First of all I will say that some bits I can go with:

  1. Pupils going out into the world to do wonderful things
  2. Imparting knowledge
  3. Listening without judgement (though this last one for me is an aim not an accomplishment)

But the rest are ridiculous and plain old exploitative . Look at these two

  • To be magnificent inspite of late nights and early mornings
  • To give meaningful feedback even if my pile of books seems endless

If these things are happening, then you need to be speaking to your line manager about workload or finding out if there is a shortcut you are uninformed about. Worse still, if you put up these statements in your class or staffroom, then you are normalising overwork and promoting the idea that teachers should put their job before the rest of their life.

I love teaching but that doesn’t mean people should take advantage of me and expect endless piles of books in my care to receive detailed written feedback nor should they demand I sacrifice my sleep for it. If you want me to “fulfil my side of the teaching and learning partnership” then give me conditions that help me do my job more effectively and more skillfully, don’t heap on the work and ask me to sign an allegiance saying I will complete all the work thrown at me no what impact it has on me, my partner, my family, my life or my health.

People who do or expect this are people who say teaching is a vocation not a job. And people who say such a thing are more likely than most to herd and harass teachers out of the profession.

This is an awful poster.

Talking about Progress

Dont tell anyone, but i find marking SO boring.

I think this is often reflected with how my pupils receive their books back. The first thing they want to see is what mark/grade/level/percentage they got. Then the second thing they want to see is what mark/grade/level/percentage their friend got. Maybe they will then look at the comment and target I wrote – maybe. Unless of course I put it on a previous page to where their mark is. There is no way they are going to be bothered to turn back a few pages to look for something they are not interested in and might not even be there.

And so the lesson starts and, without anyone noticing it, we have all silently agreed that there may be a target in their book but we will not bother referring to it again.

How then do my pupils or myself actually know if they are making progress

So this year I thought we could change things a bit. I have 3 aims: 1) Improve the response to the targets I set 2) Improve my monitoring of these responses and 3) Not increase the amount of time I spend marking (see opening sentence)

So I have drafted this table to put in the front of their books at the start of the year. I would appreciate your thoughts as to the viability and effectiveness of this tactic.

Thanks

  target Level at the time (if given) Page and date My reply Page and date for proof Teacher’s response
1 You need to describe geographical patterns in more detail 4c 12 and 10/10/13 Please see my comments on the map 16 and 29/10/13 Well done you have definitely got a level 4a now
2
3
4
5
6

 

UPDATE:

Thanks to twitter suggestions, I am considering the following changes:

a) Speed the whole process up so pupils respond to original comment quicker. Maybe by setting the next homework as this task

b) Ditch mention of levels

c) Try it with only one year group and review at October half term ( I would prefer y8 I think)

still open to more suggestions though 🙂