Sunday, 8 July 2012

Trip Hazard: When watching your footsteps can make all the difference.

For the last three weeks I have been working with a brilliant Y9 class, teaching them poetry analysis and how to make links between texts. The first two weeks were absolutely sublime. The atmosphere was fantastically productive. Everyone was engaged, attentive and polite, and I began to think I'd cracked this class perfectly, and that our working relationship was solid enough to give them a little more freedom within the environment of my classroom. How wrong I was...

I had planned what I thought was a blinding lesson. We had post-it notes, kinaesthetic learning, think-pair-share activities, Venn diagrams and exit passports and even a musical interlude. Despite this, and the fact that my classroom management style had gone unchanged from the previous two weeks, my class were completely intolerant of my attempts at managing their behaviour. I don't think I have ever felt so incompetent  in my entire life. At one point it took me almost five minutes to achieve quiet so as a class we could move forward. In hindsight it was clear that they were just testing my boundaries now that they were comfortable with how I work, nevertheless I was unprepared for the onslaught and ended what I had hoped would be a really exciting lesson feeling utterly deflated and to be quite honest, a little upset. 

Oddly enough, when I reviewed the responses on their exit passports, it would seem that despite my evaluation of the lesson as a disaster, the class seemed to have regarded it as a success.  26 out of 31 students responded that they enjoyed the lesson, and that they gained information from it. I am as yet unsure of how this is possible given the fact that the majority of them seemed off-task for the majority of the lesson.

In terms of what I would take from this, I can now safely say that I have bought into the mantra of not letting them see you smile for at least the first month! That doesn't mean I'm going to become a distant, cold, unpopular member of the English department, that has never and will never be my style. But my hesitance at asserting my authority and my desperation to be 'liked' by my students has completely evaporated and now I think my approach to behaviour management is much clearer and well-defined.

Mr James

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