It’s Saturday night and I did intend on doing some lesson planning tonight, however I am currently feeling a little under the weather with a cold, so writing a blog seems like a more desirable task than school work right now.
It’s been a busy start to the new term. As we have had three new science teachers join the department, the timetables have had a bit of a reshuffle. I lost four of my classes, gained one and I now see some of my classes much more regularly than I did before Christmas. I think my infamous year 7 class that I used to only see first thing on a Monday and last thing on a Friday were about as happy as I was when they found out that I now teach them four times a week. We may not have had the best start, but we will get there.
The highlight of the term so far has to be receiving this present from a year 9 boy in my class:
In the last lesson before Christmas, while we were doing some science-themed quizzes, this boy had tried to take some periodic tables to cheat so I had taken them off him, much to his annoyance. As a form of ‘payback’ as I had the periodic tables, he decided to take my water bottle from my desk and put it on top of a tall cupboard in the classroom. Except the joke went too far when the bottle fell down the back of the cupboard, never to be seen again. This is a cupboard that I have lost many an object down, including exercise books that have been thrown over there on purpose by some particularly ‘bad’ kids. One year 11 this year had his bag fall down the back of this cupboard and he only managed to get it back after 20 minutes involving a mop, a litter-picker, a long pole and several failed attempts by both adults and other students. However I decided that my water bottle really wasn’t worth all of this effort, so I joked that the boy could just buy me a new one instead. I didn’t actually expect him to buy me one though, so that was a nice surprise to find on my desk after returning from duty at the end of a pretty rubbish first day back.
Luckily the first week of lessons were some science skills lessons that were all already planned out for us. This of course lifted the huge weight of lesson planning for the first week back which was a relief, but I will also be glad to go back to teaching some ‘proper’ science lessons next week. There’s only so many times you can teach the same lesson before you begin to bore of it yourself.
The skills lessons did however include a couple of practicals, and everyone knows that kids love to do a practical. One of these practicals was a titration; the aim of this is for the students to use a burette to slowly add acid to a conical flask containing alkali, until the colour changes to green, indicating the acid has been neutralised. It is a hard thing to do as it is easy to add too much so that it changes colour to red, at which point you have to start the whole thing again. I did this practical with a few different groups from years 7 to 9 and in each case, even the students who are normally disengaged were engaged in the practical and were desperate to get theirs to turn green. It was great seeing the excitement and pride they each had when they finally managed to do it. It was a good reminder that science really can be an engaging subject and it’s important to use whatever I can to get the students to feel the same excitement in all their lessons.
Not all of the practical lessons went so well, for example there was the ‘shark attack investigation’ which although some classes did really well at, others, including my year 7s did not quite manage. Let’s just say they should not be trusted with red food colouring ever again.
This week we were also informed that teachers would now have to help in the planning of the P1 sessions which were previously planned for us. P1 is the lesson at the start of each day which form tutors deliver, which covers the RE and PSHE specification. I was given the task of planning lessons on ‘afterlife and judgement’ and ‘heaven and hell’. Although I groaned at first when realising I would have to plan these lessons, it was actually quite interesting to plan content outside of my science comfort zone.
Finally, I’m going to leave you with a little portrait drawn by a year 10 girl of me this week. I personally think the resemblance is uncanny.