Monday, 21 October 2013

Review of This Half Term (or the reasons why I am so very tired).

I didn't set myself specific targets at the start of this academic year, which is unlike me. However, I did promise myself that I would take opportunities that were presented to me and I would try out some new things in my teaching.

The term started with a lot of things on my to-do, some of which are still there!

I started behind and I have never really caught up as, the first week was extrememly busy in school, doubly so because I am a year 7 form tutor. The term started on Sunday night with a parent's drinks reception. Throughout the week I spent a lot of time talking to parents and checking the girls were where they were suposed to be. It was a positive time, with the Year 7 girls' enthusiasm rubbing off on me.

I also went to Research Ed 2013 at Dulwich College on the 7th September and came into school to enjoy a walk with the girls on the Sunday of the same weekend and have been exhusted ever since.

The first thing that I wanted to do was give 'destroy' a try. Rachel Jones challenged myself and Karen DW to try the activity and I promised that I would at the earliest opportunity. Do have a look at my blog post with a link to Rachel's if you want to know what 'destroy' means. I think that this went rather well as the students didn't want to leave to go to lunch! And, most importantly the work was excellent. I arranged for three certificates and sweets to be given out in assembly for the work. The activity was completed on a Saturday morning, (all staff teach on three Saturday's per year), again making me more tired as I live 45 minutes from work so the 7.00am wake-up wasn't welcome after the previous busy weekend.

My colleague found the RSC photography competition and we spend two weeks with students wanting to carry out experiments during break and after school in our labs, this was time consuming, but as a head of faculty really positive too. Firstly, I was really happy that a member of my department wanted to contribute to the extra-curricular provision in the department, and secondly that so many girls were keen to give up their time to do an activity in science.

In lessons I used confidence grids for the first time with my Year 11 class. I really like using them, but discovered later in the term not to add too many ideas.

At the end of September my partner and I went to the Cycle Show at the NEC, it was great to get out and do something different.

At the start of October was the As-levels Choices evening with our Year 11 students. I was pleased with the number that were considering science, especially chemistry (as this is what I teach to Year 11). There were a few who were thinking about physics (even better as this is my subject at A-level) and a handful thinking about it seriously. I just hope that they will continue at my school as we have fantastic students.

On 4th October the school hosted their termly lecture. It was by David James who also works at the school filming material for publicity. He was a solider in Afganistan and returned there to live and work. It was fasinating gainin the insight into the people and their problems and how the international intervention is struggling to make any sort of difference and in some cases holding the country back.

In the middle of all this I picked up on a literacy lesson that Clare Nelson (twitter) had taught and asked her for the details. I then made my own physics related version of the lesson. It was to help the students approach 6 mark questions, which they do struggle with. I still have to write a blog post on the activity and do another similar lesson on a different topic to see what impact it will have on the attainment and approaches of the students.

From Monday 30th September to Monday 14th October I hired an incubator, brooder and eggs from, both for my own classroom and the Year 6 classroom. The GCSE and A-level students loved it, particularly during the days they were hatching. This was an exhusting time, as I barely got out of my room for students coming to see the eggs and chicks. However, it was worth it especially in building relationships with the Year 6 students.

The second weekend in October is a time I visit Northumberland to help with Alwinton Border Shepherds' Show. A long weekend, with very little time for sleeping (bed at 1am on Friday, up at 6am and then on my feet all day). I am still feeling the effects and it will take some time in the holidays to catch up!

The Saturday just past was the first ASE assembly meeting of the year. A productive meeting, that has put a lot more onto the ever increasing to-do list. (If you don't get time to do it, then it will only get longer).

I have also carried out three performance management meetings (not including my own) and observed three lessons by the department (all very strong outcomes and giving my a lot of faith in my team). I have booked Year 7-10 and any post-16 students who would like to come, into the Big Bang Fair in March and arranged for myself to visit the ASE conference for three days in January. I have completed mock tests with year 10 and 11, and used iSams to complete a progress report on all but 5 of the students that I teach. (If you use iSams then you will know how laborious a process completing reports are). I have also written the annual report on our summer examination results, (which was positive so something that I enjoyed doing for once!).

The last few weeks of term have seen me try some of @kolhmand's ideas from her great blog: Year 9 have writen on flags and used that work to be publically critqued (work to be done here),,  and Year 11 have been doing a 'come dine with me' activity to get across the main ideas about percentage yield. I shared the paper plates/come dine with me activity with the department and they really liked the idea.

On Thursday I attended a lunch with the governors, who are very keen to support the increase in the use of ICT in the school. Then on Friday my family and I joined forces with three Year 10 girls to compete in the parents association annual quiz night. (We did OK).

I feel like I deserve to be tired, and that the pace of the term has been frantic. There is still more that I would have liked to have achieved and will strive to be more organised with lesson planning to allow me to have more time to do the things that I would like to do.

The term isn't over though. I have two days more of teaching and I plan to attend the teachmeet at the Clarendon Academy in Trowbridge on Thursday (only possible because it is half term for me).

I am ready for my break.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


Lovely piece of advice from Christine Harrison: if must give grades for pieces of work then first give comments and only grade the redraft of the work.

This means that the students still have to take on board the comments you make.

So simple! Why hadn't I though of this before?

Another suggestion was that you prepare example pieces of work, a high, middle and low. Then get the students to compare their work against them. Ultmately placing their work on the continuum and being able to explain why it would fit there.

This last suggestion is certainly something that I will try after the half term break in order to try and get my students to improve their writing.