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Posts Tagged ‘angst’

Term 3, week 8

Today was a mufti day. It was nice to see all the junior students looking like normal human beings for once.

My now (integrated) 10/1 English class is doing some great work. I’ve given them an open ended task sheet based around Romeo & Juliet – they have to produce:

  • A newspaper article about one of the incidents in the play, a comic book adaptation of a scene (either hand drawn or using PlasQ’s wonderful ComicLife application)
  • A 160 character TXT message summary of the play’s plot
  • A diary/blog entry from the point of view of one of the minor characters
  • A Facebook/Myspace/Bebo page for one of the characters

Despite one student telling me their dad thought the task was ‘stupid’, I think it’s actually really great … lots of room for creativity and critical thinking, and it really forces the students to examine the relationships and motivations of the characters in the play. Some students have really run with this, and appear to be producing some incredible work. I’ll post some of it here once I’ve collected and marked it all at the end of the term.

Year 12s are (mostly) working well on their horror films, and my Year 13s are … well … probably the less said the better. I’m getting annoyed with their lack of commitment, constant absences, and seemingly everything taking priority over Media Studies. I had hoped that the mostly terrible results in their practice exams might have been a wake-up call, but I’m not sure … grrrr.

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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 …

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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 …

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Term 3, week 3 (part II)

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.

(sigh)

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Term 2, the eve of week 4

I am listening to The Verlaines’ Juvenilia compilation. The lyrics ‘You’re just too, too obscure for me’ have never sounded so apt, confronted by 30 x 6 essays full of weak reasoning and messy handwriting.

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Term 1, week 2

Wow. This last week has been a baptism of fire. A new house system to get used to, roll-marking software changed again (and buggy as hell) and possibly the worst timetable I could possibly imagine. Due to a huge SNAFU in the timetabling this year, my English class are up against other media classes, which means that I need to move around to teach my year 10 English classes across three classes, carrying huge boxes of crap with me every time I need to teach. It’s really unsatisfactory and I’ve been bitching to anyone who’ll listen. (I don’t even have keys for some of the rooms I’m supposed to teach in.)

Le sigh

Otherwise school trundles on as normal. I have a Y12 and a Y13 Media class, as well as two English classes. One is basically the same performing arts class that I thought in year 9 last year, and the other is a class of mostly ESOL and extremely low ability classes. I’ve never taught a low level class before, and I’m finding it really difficult to know where to pitch my content.

Enough for now. I’m really tired and feeling pretty bummed about practically everything that has happened in the first week of school.

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Term 1, week 1

Shattered. More updates when I have the energy to move.

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