A very direct and interesting short article. Very thought-provoking #ittchat #pgce
Language vs. literature: The great debate
Sunday 27th March 2016
Your first year in the classroom is here and you’re excited and maybe apprehensive at the same time. You’ve done some placements and teacher training, and now you’re being given full autonomy. The keys have been handed over, and you don’t even know how to brake, steer or accelerate yet.
We’ve all been there, and we’ve all survived to tell our story. You will come out of this a stronger, better teacher. Your first year is when you’ll learn the most, so buckle up your seat belt and get ready – it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!
The New Teachers Stress-Busting Formula: John Had Pineapple Maltesers In His Very Eccentric (and) Private Dessert
#1 – Journalise!
Get a special notebook. This is going to be your ‘screw-up record book’. In this book, you should write down every mistake you make along the way (and you will make lots, trust me!). Read through your book on a regular basis. Even better, do this process as a group or with a friend and have a good ‘ol laugh about it together! Reflect regularly on what went wrong – this will stop you from making the same mistakes repeatedly.
#2 – Humourise
I‘m going to warn you – in your first year there will be times when you just wanna cry, or worse, give up completely and walk out. At these times, treat yourself to a few minutes of humour. Watch a comedy show on your phone and get some giggle therapy! My favourites include Just for Laughs – Gags, Trigger Happy TV and Little Britain.
#3 – Prioritise
Everything takes longer when you’re a new teacher. Your colleague who’s been in the game for ten years can mark 30 notebooks in 30 minutes, whilst you’ve only done 5 in the same time. For this reason, you need to really plan what you do with your time very strictly. Use your ‘free periods’ to effectively do your admin, and make sure, crucially, that you plan what to do in advance of your free time. Build up routines. Maybe you can do 30 mins of marking every morning before you start, or maybe Thursday evening is your planning time. Get a schedule together, and modify it when it doesn’t work. Stick to it when it does work.
#4 – Musicise
We all have songs that are dear to us and that uplift us. A good session of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘Billie Jean’ is enough to get me going in the morning! Which songs motivate you? You may find that when you’re down in the dumps a good song or two can really change your mindset. If you can’t think of any that do, then just type ‘inspirational uplifting music‘ into YouTube and you’ll soon be up-spirited with loads of great playlists.
#5 – Idolize
Idolize is probably too strong a word to use (but it ends with ‘ize’ and keeps the coolness of this blog post flowing ;-D). Look at what your colleagues do well, and find out how they do it. Model their behaviours. If the Head of Science can engage and work well with class 11G, then you can too. You just need to find out what she is doing that you’re not, and then make attempts to copy that behaviour (and add your own spin to it too).
#6 – Herbalise
When the Nazi’s were bombing London in the Blitz, a common phrase kept people going: A cup of tea can solve anything. It’s true. If possible, go for chamomile or peppermint teas as they are very relaxing, but any hot drink will do. If coffee is more your thing then treat yourself to a hot cappuccino. Bring tea bags and coffee sachets into work for those moments when the work never seems to stop. A good 30 minute break with a hot drink can really help to calm you down and give you a fresh focus.
#7 – Visualize
Remember why you’re doing this job. Thing of all of the young lives you’re improving in your work. Focus on how it’s not all about you – it’s about something bigger than you. You are a very important person. You can inspire hundreds of young people each day. Visualize your lessons before they happen. Spend a few minutes each morning or evening visualizing the next few lessons you’ll teach. Visualization, when done frequently, leads to actualisation. Make sure you actualise the best lessons you can possibly teach by first visualizing the ideal outcome.
#8 – Exercise
Haha! ;-D We all knew this ‘ise’ was coming. A healthy body lifts your mood. I’m not talking about being a marathon runner or even going to the gym. You don’t need to be super fit, but please stay active. Even a 10 minute jog or some push ups in the morning before work can really get the blood flowing and make you feel great. Don’t be intimidated by gym enthusiasts if you’re not that type of person – regular, decent exercise that’s not too overbearing is all you need to stay happy and healthy.
#9 – Prayerise
Prayer power is magnificent and should be a part of your daily routine. Whatever your religion, offloading your worries and fears to a divine presence can only bring more calmness and relaxation into your life. In addition, integrity is important to the human heart and most religions offer a way to maintain and improve upon your personal values on a daily basis.
#10 – Deputise
You’re probably juggling too many things at once as a new teacher. You can give some duties to your students. This will build up a sense of responsibility in them, and it will make your lessons more efficient. Are you always scrambling to hand out student notebooks at the start of a lesson? Choose one student to be in charge of notebooks for your class. Make it a special responsibility for being a mature student. He or she can hand out the books, collect them in and be in charge of storing them away and keeping them tidy. Think of other areas in which you can use this principle too, but don’t go too far! Assigning a student to hand out and collect the coloured pens each lesson is great, but asking students to do your photocopying for you is not cool.
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All character names in this article are fictional.
I’ll always remember my first day in the classroom as an eager PGCE student. I thought I knew it all, and that teaching a class of hyperactive teenagers was a piece of cake. How wrong I was!
Starting out in the classroom can be a daunting experience for any newbie. From chatting to graffitiing, to refusal to do work and outright rebellion – some schools around the world really do provide the new teacher with a ‘full-house’ of interesting characters to deal with.
I wrote a whole chapter about behaviour management in my debut book. Mastery is a long-term thing, and requires an investment of teacher time spent in building rapport with students. However, there are a few techniques that many teaching Olympiads use consistently in their practice, and they work like a treat!
If you’re totally new to teaching, then don’t expect too much at first. It takes time to learn how to use these techniques correctly. Play with them. Get used to trying them out – it won’t be long before you’ve discovered the correct contexts in which to use them.
#1 – The ‘Look’
Maybe you’re writing something on the whiteboard and you can hear some chatter behind you. Perhaps you’re trying to explain a concept and two boys are playing around with each other. Whatever it might be, ‘localised’ disruption can often be tackled as follows:
- Stop talking. Don’t say a thing.
- Look at the disruptive student or student for a few moments in a serious manner
- You can enhance the Look by saying something like “We’re all waiting for you” or “Thank you to those who are listening. I’m just waiting for one person”
# 2 – Are you focussing on the behaviour or the work being done?
It’s important to create a sense of urgency about any work the students are doing. Instead of balling a loud “Why aren’t you doing your work, Sam?” (which would only lead to a confrontation, and probably make matters worse), ask something like “How’s that work going, Sam?” or “Sam, have you finished?”. This puts the focus squarely on the work being done. Always follow up with a “I really need that to be done today. I know you can do it” or some other phrase that conveys urgency and the fact that you believe in the ability of the student.
#3 – You don’t need to punish everything
Everyone deserves a second chance. We all screw up. Unfortunately, however, overly-draconian sanctions systems, especially when implemented in a strict ‘no-compromise’ way, don’t take this human condition into account.
This can prove to be a delicate balancing act. You need to be consistent and fair to all of your students, but you also need to know when repealing a sanction might be necessary.
Michael was a student who was famous for being confrontational. If he felt he was being unfairly treated, or even being ‘told what to do’, he would waste no time in arguing his point. He was constantly on detention, and school had become quite a negative environment for him.
On one particular Tuesday morning, Michael had had quite a rough time. His mum had been away from home for two days, and he had his mates stayed over at his house. It later emerged that they had drank alcohol together and had partied quite hard. After missing school for one day, Michael decided that he wasn’t going to miss school today (he was afraid of the school calling his mum about it). On this particular morning he had skipped breakfast after waking up late, had missed the school bus and had to walk to school.
He arrived at his science class visibly exhausted, and just walked in without even a knock on the door. He then proceeded to take out a can of cola and start drinking it. This is an absolute no-no in a science lab – no eating or drinking whatsoever, and our departmental policy was to issue a detention on the spot. “Michael, it’s good to see you, but you know that you can’t drink in here. That’s an automatic detention”.
Well, that was the fuse that really set him off! “Are you (insert expletive here) kidding me! I’ve only just come into school and I’m on one detention already! For (insert second expletive here) sake!”. Now, most new teachers (and some experienced ones too) would probably respond to this in a gut, emotional way, by enacting whichever sanction they felt was necessary. Not only had Michael broken a class rule by drinking in the lab, but he’d also answered back to a teacher and had used swear words! Surely he needed to be hung, drawn and quartered, right?
His teacher knew better. He knew that raising the level of confrontation would only serve to make matters worse, and would help absolutely no one.
“Okay, Michael, now how do you think I should respond to what you just did?”
“I dunno sir, but I swear down I ain’t done nothing wrong and I’m now on detention”
“Okay, I’m willing to listen to you Michael. I respect you as a person, but I think we both know that you did do something a little bit wrong this morning. Do you agree?”
“Okay, yeah I swore and I had a drink. I haven’t had a drink since I woke up, I’m thirsty. I can’t learn if I’m thirsty”
“Okay, Michael, I’ll tell you what. I’m supposed to automatically give you a detention for your actions this morning, but I’m going be fair with you. I realise that you’ve probably had a rough morning today, so I’m willing to do a deal with you. How about I give you a few minutes to finish your drink outside, and then I’d like you to come inside and produce your best work for me. I know that you can do this Michael, because you’ve produced some brilliant work for me in the past. If you can give me a good piece of work by the end of the lesson, then I’ll probably forget about the detention.”
“Okay. That sounds fair”
“Thank you, Michael. I really appreciate your understanding”
What was the result of this? Michael did indeed try his best to complete the work, and he was let off with the detention. If Michael had decided not to do what we had agreed, then he would have been given that detention (and he knew that).
#4 – Use signals
This works best when implemented on a whole school level, but individuals teachers can sue them too. It’s really simple – you basically train your students to respond to a prompt. Examples that I have witnessed (and used) are as follows:
- The teacher claps her hands 5 times (two slow claps followed by three quick claps). The students all respond by copying the action
- The teacher says “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” and all of the students clap twice
- The teacher raises his hand, and all of the other students raise their hands too
All of the above techniques are great for dealing with whole-class disruption.
#5 – Stay active!
Our jobs as teachers have evolved to the point where many of us are spending more time sat in front of computers, and less time teaching our students. This has forced many educators to spend at least some time within each lesson checking e-mails and preparing electronic resources, whilst the students are working on a task. In some schools this doesn’t cause a problem (particularly when a whole-school ethos of high achievement is prevalent), but when this becomes a regular pattern of behaviour it can cause some kids to lose motivation.
Get up, walk around, and check that your students are on task. Use live-marking, and talk with each child. This not only improves your behaviour management, but also builds up a lasting rapport with you and your students over time.
Did you find this article helpful? Why not check out Richard’s book?
An article by Richard James Rogers: High School Teacher and author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know.
Illustrated by Kim Pisessith and Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati
Let’s face it: Marking piles of student work each week can be an onerous task, even for seasoned educators. From tests and assessments to coursework, homework and classwork: the paper-mountain never seems to stop growing!
Thankfully, there is hope for every eager red (or should it be green?) ink consumer.
What follows next are my top four strategies for making marking quick, fun and time-effective.
#1: Live marking saves you time and builds rapport
Do you know what ‘live-marking’ is? It’s really simple: The teacher (you) walks around the classroom with a pen in hand and marks the students’ work as they are doing a task. The benefits of this simple technique are numerous, and include:
- Quick identification of misconceptions
- Opportunities to speak face-to-face with each student, which strengthens your professional relationship with them
- Time saved, as you don’t have to take home the work you’ve already ‘live-marked’
#2: Google forms are a great peer assessment tool
If you haven’t used Google forms for assessment before, then you’re missing out one of the most powerful and modern tools in the teaching profession.
You’ll need to learn how to set them up (see the pictures below, and this guide is worth a peek too), but as soon as you’ve used this tool you’ll find that it’s a doddle to work with. Now you have every reason to regain that Saturday morning snooze you’ve been sacrificing!
Your Google form should be set up similar to this:
#3: Mark scheme your way to happiness
Probably the dumbest thing I used to do as an N.Q.T. was to give students questions to complete for homework, without having good, published model answers from which to mark the questions with!
Teachers all over the world are wasting time writing their own mark schemes. A little more time spent considering the kinds of questions you set can save you tons of time! You can also get the students to use these model answers in a peer-assessment exercise, such as a Google forms activity.
#4: Verbal Feedback is effective and saves you ink!
Professor John Hattie describes feedback as “one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement”.
One of the best ways that me and you can give good feedback is to just simply sit down and talk with our students, face-to-face. Once this is done, you can simply write “Verbal feedback given” on the piece of work, and then get the student to make corrections in a different colour. This saves time and forces the student to process the feedback given.
Make sure you always check up on the corrections.
Did you enjoy this article? Why not check out Richard’s book?
Some experts say that mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Google’s, Search Inside Yourself, programme looks at the latest research in neuroscience and ancient contemplative wis…
An article by Richard James Rogers (Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management)
Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati (a former student of mine, and a key illustrator in my book). You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like her to do some beautiful illustration work for you!
Starter activities have long been a cornerstone of effective classroom management as they get students focused and on task as soon as they enter the classroom, and
they can be a great way to ‘prime’ the kids to learn complex concepts. What follows now is a list of my top seven starter activities that are quick, simple, require minimal equipment and are fun.
This quick game is so easy: all you need is a whiteboard, whiteboard markers and class of kids. It’s a great game for consolidating key vocabulary, and is perfect for E.A.L. learners.
Here’s a short video showing a quick clip of me playing ‘Splat’ with my students (I will include some more lengthy clips soon, but this is a good start):
#2 Mystery Word
Another easy game. This time, students randomly pick out written words from a hat (or cup, beaker, container, etc.), and then they have to explain their word to the class (without saying the word). The students who are listening have to guess what the word is.
#3 The Poster Game
Possibly the most fun and competitive game I’ve ever invented for teaching new content. You’ll need space for the kids to walk/run, and the game does take some prep. However, once you (and your students) become used to playing this game you’ll find that it’s a doddle to set up in no time at all.
#4 Who am I?
A very simple game. All you need are post-it notes and a class full of energized students! Great fun. Perfect for reinforcing key vocabulary and concepts.
# 5 Bingo
Got some equation symbols or mathematical problems to teach your kids? Perhaps the symbols of the periodic table is more your thing? Whatever it is, this simple game can be adapted to suit any subject.
# 6 Vocabulary Musical Chairs
You’ll need a good rapport with you kids to use this one, as it needs to be controlled really well by the teacher (e.g. to avoid kids bumping into each other). However, it is simple, fun and worth the effort!
# 7 Mystery Picture
This one takes some imagination on the part of the teacher, and some training of the kids beforehand. However, it’s really, really good for encouraging higher order thinking skills.
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An interesting article.