It’s Friday and I have just completed my first full week of school. Unsurprisingly, and very frustratingly, after eight days of teaching I am still far from being a perfect teacher. I do however feel like I have perfected the angry teacher glare. I’ve even already used the angry “Right, put everything back on the side. If you’re not going to be sensible then we will have to watch a video of the practical on Youtube instead.”
This week I was also asked the dreaded “Why does your badge say Teach First on it?”, which I foolishly had not prepared an answer for, forcing me to mumble a clearly unsatisfactory answer about it being the type of teacher that I am. This was not enough for this particularly inquisitive Year 10, as he followed this with the question: “What kind of teacher is that? First like first time?”, which I quickly (too quickly) replied “No!!”
Other interesting questions I’ve had since starting include “Miss, are you really old or really young?” and a student asking if I could do any accents. Of course I had to respond to the last question by showing off my one phrase that I can say in a Welsh accent, which thankfully impressed this student so much that he made me do it again in front of different groups of his friends, until I told him that I am in fact not a performing monkey and that he should go and sit back down and carry on with his work on radioactivity. Of course, I may have seemed annoyed by him being out of his seat and not doing his work, but I was secretly enjoying the fact that I had earned some Brownie points and that my Welsh accent was finally being shown the appreciation it deserves.
A new tactic that I’ve tried this week is letting the students teach the lesson for a bit. This worked quite well with a girl in one of my year 9 classes, who is very loud and difficult. Annoyingly, the class were quieter for her teaching than when I stand up there. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite have the knowledge to teach the whole lesson, but at least that was 5 minutes of the lesson when I didn’t have to tell her to sit down, stop talking, stop making a paper aeroplane out of the worksheet, no you can’t throw the bits of paper you’ve just ripped up in the air like confetti, turn around, I know you can listen facing that way but I’ve asked you to turn around, get back in the classroom I know you hate school but you have to come in etc.
Letting the students teach also worked well for my lovely but loud year 10 class, who I made present in pairs about the many different kinds of contraception. It was of course great to see the loud students enjoying the attention of being at the front and there are a couple of girls in that class who are very entertaining to watch. It was also great though having the quiet ones able to stand up and present, including a girl who said “I’m actually going to faint if I go up there” at the start of the lesson. That was last lesson on Friday and it went great, quite the opposite to how my lesson last Friday went, when I decided it would be a good idea to give an already loud class Coke to drink for their practical measuring reaction time. The result was an extremely chaotic classroom, with hyper students and maybe one full set of results out of the 30 of them.
Now that I’ve settled in, next week I will be having my first full lesson observation from my mentor, in the class with the boy who I amazed with my Welsh accent. I may just spend the weekend teaching myself how to say some more phrases, so that I can teach the whole lesson in a Welsh accent. Maybe then the class will want to hear what I have to say. Failing that, I guess I could just reread ‘Teach like a Champion’, to refine some actual tried and tested behaviour management techniques instead.