And so the new year is now fully underway and it already feels as though the summer never happened. I, and all of my department, are already exhausted and grumpy. That said, this promises to be an exciting year for me as my NQT year is an ever-distancing memory and I'm taking on more and more all of the time. I am already doing an NQT CPD session concerning the use of innovative teaching practices, and I have agreed to be a lead teacher on a trip for the first time, started a Film Club, and trying to organise my own trip out too. I'm keen to get involved in all aspects of school life and I feel positively that I've hit the ground running already.
In the classroom, I've been attempting to get to grips with my new classes and my first experience of a year 11 class, not to mention teaching KS4 after a year in the KS3 desert. I must admit that I do feel somewhat out of my comfort zone but I'm a great believer in that being a good thing - should never get too comfortable. It has been lovely to return for a second year though; I'm a familiar face and for most of my students, they already know me and my expectations of them which means we've slipped straight back into things. I've never had this before and it's amazing; this time last year, I was battling it out with my classes, trying to get them hw I want them etc. and with some of them, it took until Easter to really establish myself. It's been brilliant to walk in and just get straight on with things. I feel as though I'm pulling a fast me after the hard work I had to put in to build those relationships last year!!
So far, I've tried using my old favourite, the Socratic Circle, with Year 10 and Year 8, and surprisingly, the younger ones did it so much better. I'm not sure if that's because Year 10 don't know me as well or if they've never done it before. My line manager suggested that it might be that they haven't learnt the technique at a young age and, like the rest of us, are a bit resistant to new things. I will definitely do it again as, when we have a whole class discussion in a less structured setting, they're really bright and capable of really great thinking.
Year 8 are currently studying Short Stories and have been looking at Roald Dahl's Lamb to the Slaughter. They have really enjoyed it as it's a bit gruesome but still suitable for the kids - perfect! They seemed really keen to keep talking about the story (even when the Head came in - poor bloke was enveloped in their enthusiasm, bless them!) and so I decided to give them a proper outlet. We included mini plenaries which addressed our learning objective and had peer assessment in the form of feedback as to how well the discussion had flowed and who had fed into it etc. Plus, the kids loved that there was no writing too ;) We got the post-it notes out for the plenary: the kids had to write one conclusion the discussion had reached and then used to place their vote on the board: did the wife plan on killing her husband or not? Hands off teaching, independent learning: fun lesson.
I'll be updating this soon. We have Ofsted due back imminently so I am anticipating a myriad of panicked marking and planning, so it might be longer than I'd like!