Flat!

27 02 2008

I am really disapointed with my selection day for becoming a global teacher.  If I was interviewing I would not have chosen me and so I am not holding out any hope of being accepted.  I did not come across as if I was capable of going there and leading others and I am really frustrated as I know I could but I did not handle the day well at all.  The people were lovely and did their best to put you at ease and I thought I had overcome a lot of my nerves for this sort of thing but obviously not. 

 I wasn’t comfortable saying my presentation as I had it all in front of me and used the powerpoint for pictures etc whereas I have been used recently to having no notes and just speaking off the cuff.  I also ran over time even though I had it perfect in the house!

The tasks I did not like as they involved a lot of discussion etc and it was like we were all competing to get our views in etc and I find that difficult although I did say more in the second task. 

I totally fluffed the interview as I did not say enough – the only thing I think I said of relevance that I know they liked was about shared leadership.  The questions all had two or three parts to them and that is difficult in an interview to remember all of the parts and speak about each one.  I know now that I need practice at interviews!

Feeling really disapointed now, it has made me realise how much I wanted to do it and it will be hard to pick myself up and get on with things tomorrow.  Now I have to go to the club and go for a ten mile run when I want to sit on the sofa with chocolate!

 Oral presentation for Link

global-teachers-presentation.ppt





Interview

26 02 2008

Things always seem better after the weekend – nothing like a 20 mile run into the wind to clear your head!  Don’t know if it was that or clearing some things on my list by working a lot and spending some time with my 5 month old nephew – always guarenteed to cheer me up! 

I spent most of my time though getting ready for my interview with LINK tomorrow for the chance to become a global teacher with them and go to Malawi for 5 weeks this summer.  I have 2 tasks to complete with other candidates, a presentation and a 30 min individual interview.  Quite pleased with my presentation now as I have scanned in things like a newspaper article from when I came back from Malawi last year and saved pages from mine and the children’s blogs, pages from our school website and GLOW to show.  It looks quite good and it’s not often I say that about something I have done!

 I only have two stories that are not finished now out of the class so hopefully they will get finished today.  I have decided we will do some poetry first and then redraft them although they have started to do them on the computer already but I think they need a break from them.

We painted our paper maiche masks yesterday afternoon, I find painting very stressful especially in a new build and was glad when it was over!





How do you do this PT thing?

22 02 2008

I am stressed!  I don’t think I get very stressed very often but when I do I get rather overwhelmed.  The last time I felt like this was before our World War II exhibition in November when there was so much to organise and so many other things going on as well.  This time it is for something similar funnily enough.  Our World Book Day is two weeks today and primary 7 are doing a lot for it through our rich task and I am getting very worried.  Added to that this Wednesday I am going to Edinburgh for a full day selection interview thing for Global Teachers and I have to give a presentation which I just cannot get to come out right!  Then reports are due in 3 weeks and transition reports for secondary school.  I might even have managed all that if it was not for the other hundred things too!

I get from 11am to 3pm on a Friday to do PT stuff and that’s great but by the time today I did Star of the Week, diary meeting, dinner duty and pupil council that did not leave a lot of time and I spent most of that dealing with computers.  Being ICT co-ordinator has a lot to answer for!    I was doing all of this stuff before being acting PT and how I did it without having the time out I don’t know because I can’t do it now and that is with having the time out!  I am sure I will relax a bit once this presentation is over and World Book Day.  I feel like to get it all done I would have to give up all my running and classes etc and I do think I work long enough hours without giving that up too but it’s hard.

 Rant and worrying over – check out my running blog from the link on my blog roll – London marathon in 7 weeks and Edinburgh marathon in 13 weeks.  There is a slight niggle in the back of my head about the West Highland Race (95 miles in a maximum of 35 hours) next year but I know it is mad if I am struggling to fit in running now (not that it’s not totally mad anyway – but that’s my husband for you!).





Phew!!!

20 02 2008

This rich task is now getting harder and harder! 

Yesterday went quite well as we did our science open area active learning slot in the morning and they were awake, alert and interested during it!  We had to do this as we were having a family time for reading and spelling in the afternoon.  The science went well and it was one of those good sessions where you really felt like the children were learning something.  The computers just about managed to work enough to get everyone that needed to be on GLOW and they did a lot better this time with putting discussion comments on and actually got on to looking at the concecpt cartoons which they had not managed to get to in the previous week.  It must have been to do with the fact that you could not put too much information in the one post that was stopping them last time.

I only had three parents visit in the afternoon but they certainly liked what they saw!  As before when they have been in they keep commenting on the fact that their children are doing much interesting things than they did at school.  We had groups doing different activities for spelling and swapping round – either making words with playdough or wickisticks and speed writing on the whiteboards.  This was noisy but effective.  They then went on with their rich task and I had three stations again but I had planned to only swap once which was just as well I think.  They were either blogging, on GLOW or writing their fiction stories and self and peer assessing them.  They worked well doing it this way for the first station but were less focused for the second – it was nearly 3pm though!

I do not know why I did not do this again today as it worked better yesterday.   Today they were very focused for the first 30 mins but thereafter were talking about anything other than their stories!  It is getting difficult now as they are all finishing their stories at different points and need other things to do.  I have a big list of things to do with their rich task but some of them have still finished them all.  This is the point where the independent part is getting too much for them!  A couple of people have still barely managed to start their stories and quite a few of them are not up to the standard I would either have expected or hoped from them.  Part of the problem with this is that a lot of the stories we read were quite short and to the point and that they are writing about unfamiliar things in unfamiliar places so cannot put in as much detail as they would if it was something closer to home.





Mondays are difficult!

18 02 2008

It was hard going today, I was saying at 3pm that it would be nice to have a support assistant on a Monday as I think that would help split groups up etc but unfortunately I don’t.

After playtime we had the laptops and I asked the pupils to go on and read the other schools in the clusters blogs and make sure they left some comments.  However this proved quite difficult as the laptops were really playing up and I would say the morning felt quite disasterous in the end.  They were having problems logging on and then getting onto the internet and by the time they were all engaged with the task it was time to stop!  I had wanted to go on GLOW as well but we ran out of time for this.  I am going to be able to buy three webcams to use with GLOW for video conferencing which will be really good.

In the afternoon they went on with writing their fiction stories in pairs.  I would say this is a case of extremes – either they are doing really well, or doing really poorly.  The ones doing poorly is a lot to do with who they are paired with, I felt myself groaning at who ended up together in some cases!  I found it hard to get round and help by myself yesterday so I am glad I will have my support assistant to help tomorrow, I know exactly which couple of pairs I am going to ask her to concentrate on and it frees me up for the rest of the class.  I don’t know what I would do without her.

We stopped before the end of the afternoon and started doing African flags for our display, this proved harder to organise than I thought as well as none of our atlas books had flags in them that the children could find so I ended up doing lots of searches on Google images.

All of the teachers met this afternoon that are involved in the rich task and most of us said the same thing – that the fiction work was not going as well as the non-fiction which was reassuring.  We also managed to share a few ideas for world book day.  I felt better after that was over than I did at 3pm!





First day out

16 02 2008

While I am being acting principal teacher I am only in class until 10.45am on a Friday and I could get used to that!  Mrs Bromley, who is in p.2 the rest of the week and will take mine on a Friday, came in with me until then to get used to the class and see what we are doing for our rich task.  As it is not that long since I was a student and did my probationary year I am used to having other teachers in the class with me and it doesn’t bother me.  In fact I am quite happy with any extra help!

The pupils worked in their pairs to plan their story and have now started writing it as a first draft.  A good thing about having someone else in the room is I try to do things properly and I remembered to do a plenary, which is something I forget to make time for.

We talked about how well they had worked together, or not in a couple of cases, and they had done really well today, in fact they left me open mouthed with their good behaviour this morning and I made sure I went on about how I was pleased I was with them.

I got to be ‘het’ from interval until lunchtime as the head and deputy were away which was exciting, although of course uneventful.  I did worry slightly that the fire alarm or something like that would go off!

I took the whole school for a hymn practice and I have to say I prefer taking ‘Star of the Week’, especially as the songs were quite high.  I had to tell p.2 to be quiet and some of them spent the rest of the time staring at me, seeming terrified!

I spent some time working on podium in the afternoon and got a great recording of some of the p.5 girls saying their Burns poems.  I am not sure how I am going to publish it though as you had to put in a password which I don’t have.  I seem to remember when I did the training there was a bit of an issue with it, depending on the computers you had or something so if anyone has any ideas that would be great.  I saved it on my flash drive and am going to see if I can still put it on the school website.

It is taking me twice as long as usual to write this entry as for once I have control of iTunes and I flick over and chose a different tune every time one finishes! My other half is on one of his crazy training runs for the 95 mile long in under 35 hours West Highland Race in June (or in his case hopefully under 23 hours) and I can be on the computer as long as I want without being pestered that its his turn!  My turn tomorrow, although its only a long run for a marathon!





Acting up!

14 02 2008

Friday was our head teacher’s last day and so it was strange to come in for our in-service day yesterday and not have her there leading us.  I was really sorry to see her go as she has been such a good mentor for me, I have been given so many opportunities to try new things and develop my skills.  Until we get a new head teacher I will acting up as principal teacher, I wish it was going to last longer but it will probably be over by Easter. 

This was an ideal opportunity for me to get this on my CV and I am looking for permanent PT posts but there are not many around, and certainly not within travelling distance.  It is really scary the thought of leaving Castlefield and so that is one reason why I really need to get a move on as much longer here and I might get just to cosy to leave!  Hopefully this will help and with the head teacher gone it might not seem quite such a comfort blanket that I am leaving.

We had swimming first thing this morning – always hectic trying to get them in and the dinners done before leaving.  I love the fact that two of my learning support pupils are in the top group for swimming and are doing really well.

 We got on with our rich task after playtime and I had them working in groups to decide on themes for their stories which they shared with everyone.  I have decided I want their fiction stories to be like books too so we discussed how these would be laid out and what would have to go on the front and back covers and the inside.  They are a bit fed up with their groups now and would prefer to swap for the fiction I think but this defeats some of the purpose of them learning to work together and doing the same self and peer assessment as they did at the beginning so I am sticking to my guns on this one!





Better session on our rich task

6 02 2008

Thank goodness it went better today!  Everything that I wanted to get done on Monday but didn’t we got done today.  The children were really well behaved and on task for the first half of the session and although they got noisy in the second half they had got exctied and were noisy as they were trying to tell me so many things for our mind map!

I read them some well known fables first and they listened really well and provided some good thoughts on the morals of the stories.  They are not a class of readers but they really enjoyed hearing all of the stories I told them today which was great.  It is funny how it is often the ones I have to give into the most trouble for various things and who are not necessarily the cleverest children in the class who answer the most questions and they may not be the right answers (although with these questions it was more about opinions) but at least they are showing willing and are keen which is more than I can say for some of the others who I would expect more from.

I then read them a couple of examples of African stories, we talked about those and then I gave them stories in pairs and asked them to read to each other and decide what the moral or main idea of the story was.  They did very well and myself and my supprt assistant were able to go around and help because they were on task.

I had then intended reading them a couple more stories before we did a mind map together of what they had learned so far about the content of African stories.  However we got sidetracked and this is one of the things I love about a rich task/Curriculum for Excellence.  I showed them my book of Nelson Mandela’s favourite African folk tales and asked them if they knew who he was.  A couple of them did and we got into a 20 min discussion about apartheid in South Africa, the slave trade to America, the American civil rights movement and finally the news about Lewis Hamilton being racially abused.  This is where they began to get noisy as then it all started to relate to football and get out of hand!  However they had listened to me and each other really well about something they obviously found interesting and had loads of curious questions.  If one pupil goes away to find out more about any of those things I would be really pleased.  Where were we supposed to have time to do that with 5-14?!

Doing our mind map is where they got a little rowdy but they were full of ideas of all animals and other things that appeared in the stories and about words they did not understand.  I am now looking forward to the next day on this!





Active learning open area afternoons

6 02 2008

We do not do our rich task on Tuedays as we have maths, a football specialist and we were starting our active learning on science in the open area this afternoon.  This works like the infants doing structured play in the open areas in the afternoons.  Last term we did ours on Kidnappit, our Scots book study.  This term we are doing it on Transfer and Conversion of Energy from our Science programme.

It was quite hard to change this into six sessions that the children would do one of each week as if they did not follow the progressive order of the lessons they would have less knowledge for some of the sessions.  I have therefore given written back up or something similar to some of the groups for the first couple of sessions.

The first session always seemed the most rushed as you have to explain each group’s work – once you have done that once I feel you can concentrate on bits the next weeks that need clarified.  This did not leave as much time as I would have liked for the actual activity.

Station 1 is researching non-renewable forms of energy using our non-fiction library and taking notes to report back to the class.  I gave them some books I knew to be helpful and encouraged them to find others too.

Station 2 is researching renewable forms of energy using the internet and making a leaflet.  I gave them some websites I knew to be helpful and encouraged them to find their own too.

Station 3 is discussing all of these forms of energy using the discussion room on GLOW, then looking at a concept cartoon on the computer and again discussing that on GLOW.

Station 4 is an investigation into the power of sails on a windmill.

Station 5 is an investigation into the colours that work best in solar panels.

Station 6 is discussing and reading about global warming and doing a group activity to pinpoint the best ways to save energy.

I have two support assistants with me on Tuesday afternoons for this and they are taking on the investigations and I try to just float around and help and assess pupils where I can.  This I always find very difficult to fit as I seem to spend most of the time making sure the other groups are on task and can complete the task.

They listened very well to their instructions as I was maybe going to let them pick their own groups this time.  I let them have some element of choice and as I suspected for most groups this worked very well.  Even one of my groups of 5 boys worked very hard at station 2.  One group however did not work well at all and basically did not complete any part of the task and this was with a support assistant so I will need to think about what to do with them next week.

I feel it went okay but that for the amount of preparation I put in I did not get the return I would have liked.  I think though this was party due to it being the first week and so they had less time at the stations and partly because they did not take the time to read all of my instructions and help notes.

The group on GLOW were slower than I expected and this was partly due to them being unable to put up some of their posts, I need to check this out and see whether they were putting in too many words.





Good morning, bad afternoon

4 02 2008

The kids worked reasonably well this morning – they tried hard to get their non-fiction books finished before Mrs Reid came in to see what they were doing on Glow.  I thought I had it looking pretty good and directed them to what I wanted them to do first but of course typically when the head was coming there was a setting I had not changed so the children were unable to complete the surveys I had put on for them.  I managed to get this changed while they used the discussion pages I set up with questions on how well they had been working as a group.  I do not think though that they fully realised I would be able to see all of the comments and who wrote them as they got a bit of a shock!  They enjoyed doing the surveys and we will look together tomorrow to see the graphs etc it makes.

This afternoon we went onto the fiction side of the rich task and I had spent a long time preparing things for this.  However it was a very poor afternoon and we ended up swapping to a lot of written language work as they could not cope with listening and discussion work.  This was really unfortunate as I really wanted to get a good start on this today.  At only 3.30pm I am not sure what I could have done differently to change their behaviour, I am sure when I am more calm later I will think of something.  Tomorrow they have a lot of other things on and we will not be able to do the rich task which is unfortunate.








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