Year 12 parents evening today

Personally I was all prepared for it being tomorrow, but it wasn’t. It was today, and I was only attending because of one student. One lazy student who, after being told he is lazy – in front of his parents – probably won’t be lazy again. People round here are very blunt, it’s great. “just tell me, is he being a prat? yes or no” … “yes, he is.” … “thankyou, I suspected as much”.

I like the phrase “you listen to your teacher and do what they say. If he/she is a problem to you, just ring me”.

The single student I was seeing is mostly OK, he will be able to do the work if he just shuts Internet Explorer, gives up playing bloody Tower Defense and gets on with it.

One Week Before Easter

Just one week to go before the end of term, and two weeks off. Of course I will be spending some of this time planning the next term’s worth of work, but on the whole it’ll be a nice two week break.

I think I’m slowly crafting my year 10 groups that I have last thing on a Friday into nice, quiet sessions. It’s Friday, it’s the last lesson and everyone wants to go home, so how about we all just get on with some work in quiet and make the time pass quickly. It mostly seems to work.

Three weeks left

This half term is crazy. It’s only four weeks long, and the first week has ended already. It continues to amaze me just how quickly time passes when at school. It’s also good to see that some of my tactics for keeping order are working. I’m currently trying the divide and conquer method. It’s not good to shove kids outside your room, and sending more than one outside doesn’t really work. So instead I’ve taken to standing them in the corners of the room.

It’s an extra curricular day on Wednesday. The year 10s are filling in their work experience application forms, having mini interviews and other things like that. The rest of the school do other little random lessons.

Making them catch up

My year 10 students are doing a “short course GCSE” in ICT. To do this they have to perform a variety of tasks. The first one is to make a folded leaflet for a ficticious health club. A task they find surprisingly difficult, the concept of planning and evaluating being somewhat alien to their minds.

One of the kids in my final lesson likes to do absolutely nothing except act up in front of his friends. Always got to show off and be noticed. Last lesson the little wonder vanished five minutes before the end of school, and under my new scheme of “take no crap” I gave him an after school detention today. Friday.

Yes, I gave someone an after school detention on a Friday. >:-]

And further to that I made him work his little socks off. Half an hour of one-on-one tuition had him catching up ten weeks of work. In his own words “I’ve never worked so hard in my life”. Well done, you see, you can do it and more importantly you’re actually quite good at it. I left him alone after that to let his brain cool down again, but watched what he was doing with our remote control software.

It’s fascinating watching kids work when they think they’re not being monitored. You realise they know more than they’re letting on.

I let him go early too, I’m not totally evil.

A fairly easy day

Today was quite easy. I have lessons all day except the last period, but then after that I have an after-school meeting for an hour. So the day is full. However three of my lessons are with year 12 students who just sit there and get on with it. The first lesson is with a tiny group of year 9 students.

My year 9 group on Thursday morning consists of five kids, which says what kind of people they are. The kind of group you gently herd along in the vague direction of the lesson plan. I like to think of it as teaching by distraction – distract them with something and then slip a bit of knowledge in.

Behaviour Management

It’s the start of a new term, so naturally the kids have all forgotten how to behave in lessons. I’ve spent the first five…ten…twenty minutes of each lesson this week going through the rules and how I expect them to behave. It sounds a bit harsh standing in front of a group of kids and saying “this is how I expect you to behave. This is what will happen if you don’t”, but if you don’t tell them what you want them to to they’ll never know.

And really, 20 kids all nattering amongst each other as if they were on a dinner break totally ignoring you is “one of the problems with young people these days”.

With some of my groups this is a quick two minute run through a small list of expectations. With other groups, like the one I had last thing today, it becomes the main part of the lesson. My Tuesday afternoon group is a right pain, there’s several kids who like to constantly interrupt and mess about on purpose. They’re not “just being kids”, they’re doing it on purpose. It’s kind of like a mini rebellion in their heads, to me it’s just irritating and I want them to stop it.

I lined them up, explained they would go into the room quietly and sit behind the desks (always a killer in a computer room. All those nice shiny PCs and you’re not using them right now). They all swarmed in like rabid zombies, so I shooed them back out and lined them up again. Again they were told to go in quietly and walk to their chair and sit down and wait for me. They managed it this time, and I had them listening for a whole two minutes before someone started talking.

In the end I shooed them all outside again to line up, again. By now they were getting sick of it, which meant it was working. This time they were actually quiet and I did manage to explain the consequences for “doing it wrong”. A few even got to test out my newly explained chain of consequences. They’ve got detentions tomorrow.

It’s all fun and games here. I’ll do exactly the same again next week… and the next… and so on.

Start of the Spring Term

School goes back tomorrow. I’ve worked out what I’m teaching for the next five weeks and have something approaching a plan. Hopefully the children will cooperate and my plan won’t require too much modification.

Over the weekend I went to Wasdale with my dad for a walk. We arrived to mist and a traditional damp Lake District day, with the view across Wastwater (Britain’s favourite view supposedly) not being too impressive. However, in the morning we woke to a nice dusting of snow on everything and a bitterly cold wind. I had six layers on and just couldn’t feel warm enough, I think I need some thermal leggings or something.

We set off up the path to Sty Head Tarn, from the farm at the bottom where we were staying. The path began with some slushy ice but that soon thickened into nice, crunchy fresh snow. The dog seemed to enjoy it, joining in with an entertaining (for us) game of “roll snow down the hill and chase it”. I even worked out I can take photos while wearing my big mittens.

We’d got about 2/3 up the path when huge gales and stinging shards of ice and snow began battering us. Not anything too serious, but since we weren’t planning a day in the ice and had a small dog with us we turned around and went back down the path.

And while plodding back down the slippy path I made the fatal mistake people often do on the way home. I stopped paying attention to where I was walking. Slop! I trod onto what I thought was a patch of snow, but soon discovered it to be a knee-deep icy pool of mud. There was a few seconds of dampness followed by biting cold as the ice and slush found its way into my boot and up my trouser leg. I used to go jumping into cold rivers, and it felt not unlike that. My foot did what it usually does in this type of situation and went numb so I gave up bothering about it.

I’ll upload a nice picture of Wastwater and write about it on my other blog in a moment.