Ever wondered what a week in the life of a teacher is like? This week, we will be sharing five blog entries written by Jordan Holdsworth. Jordan is an ex-student of Leeds West Academy who is going to be taking part in the Teach First programme at another secondary school next year and ahead of his training, he has experienced five days of teaching in his former classrooms. Jordan writes:
As part of Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme, I am completing the experience element of the Participant Preparation Work at Leeds West Academy – my old high school. The placement will involve me observing a number of lessons and discussing the school’s Strategy for Rapid Improvement with various staff, who have facilitated its implementation throughout the past year.
My first day began with a brief introduction to the school and its behaviour policies; having been an ex-student from the school, there were lots of changes to the behaviour strategy which I needed to get used to. As the day progressed, however, I saw this strategy in action from a number of teachers; some were more successful than others, however I found that there were some overall benefits to the behaviour policy that worked across teachers, and their classes.
All classes began with the teacher stood at the door, checking uniform and posing short and simple questions to initiate a conversation with each pupil. Some teachers were also quick to challenge any low-level disruption that continued into the classroom from the door. I thought this was particularly good at establishing control, even when that student no longer held the teacher’s full attention. This also seemed to set a precedent for the rest of the lesson.
In other classes, teachers were actively using the classroom’s space to manage behaviour – particularly where the classroom allowed for this use of space and where challenging behaviour was expected pre-lesson. Some teachers walked around the classroom and spoke towards the centre, to address all pupils at one time. Others were static and managed each pupil’s line of sight using clear and concise instructions. Both of these strategies will be resourceful as I move into training.
Twice, I observed teachers holding students back for a one-to-one chat after the lesson, to go through the incident and check that the student understood the following consequences. While teachers efficiently dealt with this behaviour, it would be interesting to see whether or not such incidents re-occur – thus, whether or not their approach had been successful. It would also be interesting to note whether similar issues occur in lessons that are less hands on than those I had been in today.
Positive Behaviour was the policy that all teachers employed. Teachers had a great deal of success in providing praise and corrective comments at a ratio of 5:1 (especially at the beginning of the lesson) and making explicit the reasons why students were receiving this feedback. Both of these procedures helped pupils to understand their position in the student-teacher relationship, accept that the lesson will offer them the chance to excel and impress but also self-categorise those behaviours that are desirable. Stamps and other incentives were used as physical rewards, although it was the accompanying commentary which appeared most valuable to students. This can easily be applied to whatever behaviour policy is being used in my future placement school.
Going forward, I will be able to see the effect which these strategies have in modelling good behaviour and enforcing a positive attitude to learning. I am also keen to see how various subjects deal with making their content engaging – a day focussed on my subject area will help me relate this to my own style of pedagogy.