Every fortnight, one of our NQTs will write a reflective blog post focusing on issues raised in our professional development sessions. This is the first, by one of our English NQTs and follows a session called ‘Sweating the Small Stuff’.
Wednesday was the first official NQT meeting following the 15-minute forum (signing up for Twitter is still on my ‘To Do’ list). Feeling a little reassured and armed with simple but effective advice, I ventured on with the week. Implementing routines within my classroom became a priority. Having already appointed a book monitor in one of my classes as a behaviour management strategy, I decided to do this in all my classes – two down; four to go.
I have also been timing how long it takes my Y7s to have their equipment out and be ready for learning, after it took ten minutes during one lesson to even begin the ‘Do Now’.I think I may have to take this approach with my 8s 9s and 10s too! I have also realised that I have to simplify my ‘Do Now’ activities, although I have to say I am not sure how much more I can simplify them but I will and my classes will be sitting in silence doing their ‘Do Now’ while I take the register!
We were all sent away with a task (an idea from Ross McGill’s 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Lessons). I chose Shush – the deadly sin; “Tackling low level behaviour without saying shush!” McGill states:
The word shush is often used to control low level behaviour. It is a common occurrence when punishing students and it usually has negative connotations.
By removing ‘shush’ from your vocabulary you remove one of the persistent negative reinforcers from your teaching.
Shush is a deadly sin! I challenge you to find an alternative the next time you hear yourself saying ‘sssh’.
I accepted the challenge because I quite often find myself shushing to absolutely no avail and quite frankly I am beginning to irritate myself. Thinking the task would not be that difficult, I began my challenge on Thursday – at the time of writing I am still unable to stop myself from committing ‘the deadly sin’; it has undoubtedly become a habit. However, focusing upon my habit has made me more aware of when and why I do it. The reason I’m finding it difficult is that I can think of no alternative ways of dealing with the situation (ideas please!). I no longer shush to get the class’ attention (I’ve got that far), but during group tasks I find myself walking around the room shushing. My students need to communicate with each other but the noise level invariably rises higher than I desire. I have begun stopping the class and telling them the noise levels are too high but I’m not sure this is effective. At least there’s one more week until the next challenge!
Further to trying to meet Morrison’s challenge and establishing routines (routines I thought I had started to implement) I am trying to embody a key word in Wednesday’s meeting: ‘consistency’. Consistency has to permeate everything I do in the classroom and straight away I realised I wasn’t being completely consistent. I have seating plans but keep changing them for one reason or another – I have now implemented seating plans that will remain until I know my pupils better. As much as I dread ringing home I have done so. I have begun to make positive relationships with parents by sending postcards home. There seems so much to remember and sometimes I just forget in the bustle of the day (post-it-notes have become my must have) and sometimes it just feels so hard. However, somehow I feel as though getting the routines established is the easy part. Thoughts of levels and progress are beginning to swim around my mind; being accountable for every child in my class – it’s a bit scary. Looking forward to the next session – hope I’m not the only one feeling this ☺.I have to say that I love my classes, even the livelier ones, and I already know becoming a teacher was one of my better life choices! ☺ ☺
Please feel free to contribute ideas, suggestions and feedback for our NQTs below.