It’s six weeks in and half term is finally almost upon us, so I thought another blog post was well overdue. I’m writing this at the end of a challenging week. Challenging not only because it was a full five-day week, a shock after having one day off last week for a conference, but challenging as I also had my first formal observation.
Despite the fact that I have now taught around 90 lessons since the start of term, or 6750 hours of teaching time, before this observation, I had only had one full informal lesson observation and a couple of twenty minute observations. Whether this was trusting of the school or crazy, I will let you be the judge of that.
This lesson observation has been written in my trusty planner for weeks and at the time, I was glad that it was with an alright Year 10 group, rather than one of my tricky Year 9 classes. This Year 10 class were not alright on Wednesday, the day of my observation. I’m not sure I can even pinpoint the exact reason why it was such a bad lesson, but I just know that it was a bad lesson. They weren’t listening, they were talking over me constantly, there were no signs of any routines as the start of the lesson involved me telling people “You don’t sit there, move to your seat.” And having to constantly tell a girl “No” as she pleaded with me to move seats. I also had two girls just full on get up and walk out.
Unfortunately, it was not one of those cases where I thought it was a bad lesson and in the feedback I found out that it was actually an Ofsted outstanding-worthy lesson. No, it definitely went as bad as I thought and the feedback reflected that. The one positive was that it was a ‘really well-planned lesson’, which I am happy about, but it’s a shame that this was a stand-alone strength. Being the clearly emotionally vulnerable person that I have become recently, as soon as my participant development lead, who had been observing me, left the room, I gathered up some stray worksheets, sat down at my desk and cried. One of the lab technicians came in and I cried some more to her, followed by my mentor. At this point, I was full on bawling my eyes out uncontrollably with an accumulation of weeks worth of stress and planning-induced tears. This crying clearly made the poor cleaner uncomfortable, who had been trying to find a good time to clean my classroom for the last half an hour. As I was sat there crying to my mentor, he stood there with his broom in hand and announced he would come back later, closing the door behind him.
I’ve done alright so far in life. I did alright in my GCSEs, A-levels and managed to graduate from university with a first-class degree. That wasn’t easy, but I worked hard and so I did well in exams. I’m working hard at this teaching job now, so why am I not good? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself this week, along with the questions ‘Do I really want to do teaching?’ and ‘Can I even do this for two years?’. The last question was in my mind as I was walking into school on Thursday morning, exhausted and dreading the prospect of seeing the Year 10 class again who were the reason for the previous night’s misery.
Everyone said that there would be highs and lows and there have definitely been both so far. This has mainly focused on the lows, so I will end on a high instead. Luckily, the week did improve after Wednesday’s car crash of an observation and at the end of my Year 8 lesson today, one girl even said to me on the way out: “This has been the best science lesson EVER.” Although I don’t know if I can take credit for that, as they were doing a practical involving throwing water balloons into buckets until they popped and I challenge you to find a student who wouldn’t enjoy that lesson. Now for the challenge of making students enjoy my lessons without the need for the classroom floor to be dried with hundreds of paper towels after the lesson!