Thursday, 20 October 2011

First classes - by Theo

While not quite as swift as the CELTA, which had us teaching on the very first day, the Bristol PGCE course does whip us into classrooms pretty quickly, and today I taught my first full lessons to a Year 7 class & a Year 8 one.

Rosie obviously knew something was up. She must have caught the general buzz of excitement and anticipation, and was clearly thrilled for me. So much so that she felt she had to wake up at 1 am to let me know just how excited she was. And then again at 2 am. And again at 4.30 am. So, thanks to my darling daughter's enthusiasm for my fledgling secondary school career, I went into school on about 3 hours sleep.


The first class, the Year 7s, were third period after break. Having been in the school for nearly three weeks now they've got to know me a bit. I've been observing in their classes across the curriculum and had helped out in their class earlier in the week delivering sections of the lesson. So I figured it would go OK. And I guess it did. It was no shining triumph, but no disaster either. The class looked at the construction of character through dialogue in Skellig, particularly through the use of types of questions. The problem was that I was too ambitious in what I was trying to teach them and, being a mixed ability class, this meant that some of them were very confused by the end. I hope this won't have put them off - classroom management is a lot about the students trusting you and the activities you set. Too many activities which they just don't get and I'll lose that trust.

Year 8. Period 5. The tiredness was starting to bite. We were looking at Holes by Louis Sachar, and I had another ambitious lesson planned involving identifying literary devices (alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc), creative writing and textual comparisons. All in an hour during the last lesson of the day with a class who had become convinced I was stalking them. I threw myself at it. It felt great. We whizzed along taking nearly everyone with us, and many of the students going way beyond what I'd hoped for. We were flying, ahead of time. A couple of students, who through laziness rather than lack of comprehension had barely written a word, could have perhaps done with more time, but with ten minutes to go we'd basically finished what I'd planned. So we quickly whipped out the book and read through another chapter before the bell went and the adrenaline faded. Phew. What a high.

Afterwards my tutor commented that she felt the ending lacked a little something. It needed a chance for the students to talk about what they'd learned. That's when I turned over my four-page long lesson plan to realise I'd left out half of my final activity, which would have done exactly that.


You live, you learn. At least that's what I hope my students will do.

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