Term 3, week 7

I’ve talked a little about my ‘difficult’ year 10 learning enhancement class over the course of this year. Of all my classes it has been the most consistently difficult to teach, and probably the least rewarding in terms of student output and student/teacher relations. Without wanting to delve too much into it, there’s been little buy in from the students, which has meant that I feel like I’ve been expending vast amounts of energy of a small group of students who just aren’t very interested in being at school. Students who, truth be told, often have bigger (scarier) stuff going on in their lives outside of school. I can hardly blame some of them for their lack of engagement, but, still … it’s been hard work.

Thankfully, it’s apparent that it’s not just me having these issues – my teacher aide, as well as their core science and maths teachers – both far more experienced that I – all state that this class is the hardest they’ve ever taught. Not, I should stress, because of any particular behaviour issues (although there are behaviour issues) but mostly because of the inertia in the class. There are only about two of three students actually interested in working, learning and improving, and twice as many expending huge amounts of effort trying to avoid work – “I don’t have a pen”, “can I got to the toilet”, “can I get a drink”, “I don’t have my book”, etc. It’s exhausting.

Anyway, things came to a head a few days ago in a PD session. Given that the class can regularly be as small as six or seven students on a Wednesday or Thursday morning when the class runs in period 1, senior management, in consultation with the head of Literacy and the Heads of Houses, has decided to dissolve the class and integrate the students into other Y10 English classes. I’ll be absorbing three students into 10/1 (which should be fine, I think) and will be relieving in that timetable slot for the rest of the term. A decisive move, but hopefully an ultimately successful one …

Term 3, week 6

Have just come back from a paid union meeting. Looks like we’re going to be striking later this term/next term.

In other news, school trundles along nicely. 10/1 are still (for the most part) enjoying Shakespeare – I’ve had them write soliloquies from the point of view of significant real of fictional characters. Some of them have been really good.

10/3 still remains problematic. The class was designed to be small so that core teachers could more easily work with individual students. However, one student got pregnant and left the class, two others have been stood down, and at least two others are sporadic attendees at best. Which means that I’ll quite regularly have a class of six or seven students. All of the students in the class are, in their own way, very nice kids. But the level of inertia is breathtaking … sometimes I feel like I’m working so hard and am getting nothing back. There just isn’t a critial mass of students who actually want to work. It can be extremely disheartening.

What to do? What to do …

After the two-day Y12 horror production marathon earlier this week, this afternoon say me once again supervising a shoot – this time with my Y10 Media Studies class, who were extras in a video shoot by Auckland indie pop band The Gladeyes. The band and I have been trying to plan this for almost a term, and I really wondered whether it’d ever actually come together. But we got there eventually … rhe class seemed to really enjoy it, and the band were happy with the results. I am hoping the edited version won’t be far off, and will post it here when it’s done.

In the meantime, here are some stills from the shoot …

Term 3, week 4

Well, it’s that day again – Y12 Horror Shoot Day – the day senior management and school janitors hate, but which students love.

Thankfully the weather was fantastic, cool and crisp and barely a cloud in the sky. Thankfully all students showed up on time, and all were (reasonably) well prepared for their shoots. Here are some highlights …

Great stuff.

My Y10 Media Studies students are making movie trailers for the Library Week video competition … I was trying to find something on YouTube about movie trailers and came across this. It’s great …

One of my best (and – can I say favourite?) students last year had Asperger Syndrome. Apparently she spent the first two years at school locking herself in a room in the Special Education unit, and only really became social once she started going to and then helping out at the library. By the time I met her, at the beginning of year 13, she had adapted well to school life and, despite some minor anxieties (always the first to class, always sitting in the same spot, not liking it when I rearranged the furniture etc.) had made friends, socialised well, etc. She and I hit of off really well from the very beginning of the year and we’re still in touch.

I’ve dealt with a bunch of students on the Asperger/Autism spectrum and, generally, I tend to hit it off with them. Being someything of an obsessive myself, and, possibly having an undiagnosed case of Dispraxia (my parents took my to a doctor as a child for being ‘clumsy’ when I was young, and I fit most of the other physiological symptoms) I tend to relate.

However, this term I’ve encountered a student who I have found really really draining. He is a year 10 student who has a severe case of Asperger Syndrome, but has only recently been diagnosed. He’s perfectly pleasant on a one-to-one basis, but pesters me constantly to help him, gets obsessed with totally irrelevant things (like, for example, badgering me with questions about Y13 English, despite me assuring him time and time again that I don’t teach senior English) and is generally a really draining presence in the classroom, if only for the amount of time I need to spend managing him. Were I to respond to every single question he asked, I’d probably spend about 90% of class time dealing only with him. He desperately needs a full-time teacher aide, or else some sort of CBT.

I’d love to develop some strategies to dealing with him because, well, he’s a nice boy, and I really want to help him do well in English this year, but not at the expense of having to ignore the rest of my class in the process.


Term 3, week 3

Note to self: despite being rated M, Shakespeare in Love contains possibly a few too many sexual references/scenes to show to a (fairly immature) Y10 English class. Cue mutual embarrassment for all concerned.

10/1 seem to be really enjoying my Shakespeare unit so far … a lot of them are also studying Shakespeare in drama, so there’s a fair degree in overlap which means I can deal with big picture stuff and let the drama teacher make them learn lines. For 10/3 I’ve decided to use the novel Holes by Louis Sachar – a collegue to taught the Y10 LEC class last year said that it worked really well with her class, plus there are loads of resources online, a good novel, etc. Right now we’re starting by actually reading the novel – well, I’m reading it and they’re listening attentively. I actually really enjoy reading out loud, and the class seems to be lapping it up for the moment. For a class that has been quite agitated and unsettled for the first part of the year, being read to seems really settling. (And: confession – I’ve never actually read the book before, so it’s a good opportunity for me.)