I used to think… by @ASTSupportaali

After running my first training session of the year for the NQTs in my school today, I shared with them things that I do not remember hearing during my first training session as an NQT. (8 years ago…) After the session I walked over to the classroom of a fellow AST and said…

Well that was strange. I just shared things that I never thought I would.

So, in this short post I would like to share thoughts I genuinely and honestly used to think and practice. I used to think…

  • Differentiation meant a separate worksheet for all my students
  • Writing a lengthy lesson plan will impress my observer
  • ALL lessons had to be fun
  • Being liked was more important than following through with a sanction at times
  • If people didn’t work as hard as me they didn’t care about the students as much as me
  • Lessons had to have lots of activities within them
  • Learning intentions had to be written down- always
  • If the students found the lesson hard I had made a mistake with my delivery
  • My subject was more important than others
  • Lots of homework is a good thing, always
  • Working in groups/pairs is better than in silence
  • If I could teach the really naughty students then I must be an excellent teacher

(I think I will keep coming back to this list…!) Like I mentioned, I now know that the above list is untrue, inaccurate and wrong. What worries me though is how the above thoughts or actions were expected at the time. They were wanted, they were applauded and even rewarded. Another interesting thought is, despite me practising all those ‘wrong’ things, my students have ALWAYS achieved well. Achieved highly. Interesting… So what do I now know…

  • Differentiation meant a separate worksheet for all my students. Differentiation put simply is knowing your students, knowing their abilities, knowing how to challenge them and make learning difficult for them. Knowing how to provide feedback for them to learn from their mistakes and challenges.
  • Writing a lengthy lesson plan will impress my observer. Lesson planning is for me not whoever is checking. Lesson planning is more about mapping out visually where the students will begin and end. It is also an admin task for, remembering things and so on. I have started to use my OUTLOOK calendar to write my lesson planning on. This is so good!
  • ALL lessons had to be fun. I will never let the feeling that unless the activity is fun I will not use it in my lesson ever creep back into the way I work. I think a successful teacher can make a lesson engaging and active. That doesn’t mean all learning has to be fun.
  • Being liked was more important than following through with a sanction at times One word- consistency. In schools we are a team. We are only as weak as our least consistent member of staff. I believe ensuring all students have firm, fair guidelines makes things easier for them. Therefore easier for us.
  • If people didn’t work as hard as me they didn’t care about their students as much as me. I have definately learnt that people may not want to or may not be able to make it obvious, or show off how hard they are working. For example, If teachers can’t stay behind till late, watch a school performance, go on a school trip or mark a piece of homework an extra 2 times. (Things I genuinely enjoy doing.) It is not because they do not want to or that they are not working hard enough. It is also not because they are not working as hard as me. I believe that we all have a differing level of commitment due to differing levels of committment. This feeling of why do others may not care was ‘coached’ out of me by some of the best educators I know. They would ask me to consider my pace, my workload and suggest that we are all different; BUT no better or worse than others. I fully see this, appreciate this and as a member of SLT I am extremely mindful of this.
  • Lessons had to have lots of activities within them. I am now comfortable in setting one lesson intention and 1 task. A challenging, engaging, stimulating task which will challenge and make learning difficult for my students.
  • Learning intentions had to be written down- always. Waste of time. Students need to understand and know them. This can be done in a variety of ways. I also feel that at times we confused lesson aims/intentions/objectives with lesson tasks. Many teachers often spend time developing a lesson around an activity, rather than what the students should be learning.
  • If the students found the lesson hard I had made a mistake with my delivery. If the lesson is hard then it is likely students will have to work hard to participate, to engage with any set activities. It is also likely that students will make mistakes for me, the teacher to correct and provide feedback. For the student to then use DIRT time to improve.
  • My subject was more important than others. I have realised that subjects are as important as the students futures determine. I believe each subject has an importance, a need, a value. But, what I realise more now that students do know a lot more than I may give them credit for. They feel they appreciate what is important and what is not. However, correcting these assumptions is vital!
  • Lots of homework is a good thing, always.Students need some free time too. Too much work isn’t good. We all need a break. Also setting a lot of homework is also a burden on me marking!
  • Working in groups/pairs is better than in silence. This is not something that I have changed per se, althought, it is not a method of working that I now feel must be included in all lessons, always. Also, the use of silent work, doesn’t need to be just saved for end of unit tests. I think silence and completing tasks should be a part and parcel of all lessons.
  • If I could teach the really naughty students then I must be an excellent teacher. I think to be an excellent teacher you must be able to teach ANY class that is given to you. Teaching a top set doesn’t make you a weaker teacher.

To be continued… @ASTSupportaali

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21 comments

  1. Education is truly a strange vocation. I would totally agree with all your comments, but then hey, I’ve only been teaching for 30 years!

  2. […] N- New. New teachers, new ideas, new initiatives and so on. School leaders seem to be drawing in changes at the moment. Teachers need to be able to embrace ‘newness’. Networking can help address these. However, with anything new, something old should be removed. As @LearningSpy states, any idea that revolves around teachers working harder, will fail. […]

  3. […] – Justin Tarte. The Workload Conversation by. How are we going to survive till Christmas?! – I used to think… by @ASTSupportaali. There is no right way to teach everything. Engaging the active learner. How many of our words are […]

  4. […] brilliant – teachers. Keep moving Don’t stand still. Get involved Schools are communities. I used to think… by @ASTSupportaali – NewToThePost. After running my first training session of the year for the NQTs in my school today, I shared with […]

  5. […] Now, this isn’t to say that I thought teaching was extremely difficult during my first year (I actually loved it and was not too overwhelmed)…but I did have my fair share of “rookie” mistakes. I’ve learned that the best way I can help out new teachers is by sharing my story, and what teaching was like for me that first year. The best part of making mistakes is learning from them…so even if you make some of the mistakes listed below, it’s all part of the process! 1. Never leaving school It’s your first real job and you want to do the best possible work. 2. I remember so many people giving me the advice to take the first year and only focus on my teaching. 3. 4. Ever heard of cabin fever? 5. I don’t know many teachers that haven’t focused on that “one kid” at some point in their careers. 6. This is a biggie. I used to think… by @ASTSupportaali – NewToThePost. […]

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