Extra Classes and MY extra time…?

Easter Holidays. Time to recuperate before the final drilling of examination preparation and the wondering why we didnt start doing something sooner, something more effective, something different

What I wanted to discuss in this blog was whether you feel it is a teachers responsibility or should be the expectation that a teacher puts on extra classes for students?

What do you think? Click HERE below…

Should Teachers put on extra classes for their students?
Yes
No
Only for Vulnerable or Disadvantaged Students

online quiz maker

Recently, I have noticed more and more teachers going in to school during the Easter holidays to provide revision classes.

Dare I say, schools are expecting this? I know schools pay staff ‘extra’ for this time at times, but others do not…

I guess the question I want to ask is…

BUT BEFORE I DO– I RESPECT AND THINK THE WORLD OF TEACHERS THAT GIVE UP THEIR OWN TIME FOR THEIR STUDENTS.

  • How effective is this time in school with these students?

Do we feel because we are in front of the students giving them the resources they are doing it properly? Have we succumbed to the idea that without us, they simply will not do it? Is this OK? Or…maybe we KNOW our students and know that they don’t have a quiet place to work, don’t have the ability to be free from external pressures to revise. So providing them this school time will benefit them immeasurably…?

Maybe these students are the students that need that extra push from a

  • U—>E
  • D—>C
  • A —> A*

After all we are measured on these students performances. Now, with performance related pay will we as educators feel more obliged to provide this additional time. I think so.

Should we be expected to do it? Does our moral conscious weigh down on us too heavy if we do not. I know for instance, this easter, I am not teaching year 11s this year. I have been relieved that I haven’t felt I needed to go in to school. But, if next year, when my GCSE students are in Year 11 I will feel I must, I should. Is that right? I know, I don’t have to. Nobody is forced to right?

Are the holidays actually holidays? Both for us and students? Also, isn’t this the time, parents see their children? Spend time with them? Both for teachers and their children and students parents.

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 12.18.53

Click here to see what others are saying out loud!

(I realise I am not providing answers, but this blog, provides a platform for me to express my thoughts, mostly, just via questions…)

What about extra classes? After school? Lunch time?

  • Why should a teacher have to go over something the students should have learnt in class?

Is it because the student was excluded? Absent? Not paying attention? Is it because the teacher knows without this prerequisite learning the student(s) will fall into a deeper depth of unknown and the cycle of un-achievement will continue further…?

I am hearing too much about teachers spending their personal time trying to get kids to catch up, do more.

I am a massive advocate for levelling the playing field for students that are vulnerable and disadvantaged. See my blog here about my role as Director of Inclusion and my blog about Pupil Premium here.

However, are we setting up our students to fail if we simply keep providing? Or without this provision are we allowing failure?

I always say to my students…

I provide 60% for you… (with my lessons, my online links, my resources, my physical resources and time.) You must provide the extra 40%. This is by learning, paying attention, attending and putting in work outside of lesson.

I make this clear to them, that I have done my bit, that I have worked really hard FOR them and they now need to work hard for themselves.

Some students will always need that extra help, extra support and more time… but are we entering into a time where we are simply falling into catch up rather than expectation?

I know some teachers that outrightly refuse to provide any additional time other than their lessons. I know some that will frown on this and think it is is our job to provide this extra time… however, where do we draw the line?

What do we think?

What is really odd is that most (just based on my personal interactions), of the teachers that are going in to school to provide these revision sessions are planning activities they wouldn’t normally during their lessons? Is it because they are too time consuming to plan? Or you wouldn’t take lesson time doing so? Whatever the reason, shouldn’t revision be recapping and revamping their previous learning…?

I have written about revision here and collated some fab blogs by others.

Once students leave school, will they ever get this much support in anything?

From a speech by Bill Gates.
From a speech by Bill Gates.

I am not sure I have a point in this blog, other than teaching is becoming harder and harder, more accountability to the powers that be, could be adding to our already full moral platform…?

It took me 15 minutes to write this blog…

Here are the results so far…

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 12.31.05

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12 comments

  1. I completely agree with your uncertainty over this – I spent three days of Easter at work, holding revision classes which also necessitated additional planning. Whilst I love doing this and want the best for the students, I think sessions would work better if they were targeted and focused on key areas. Our Maths department focused sessions by topic and I think that could have been an option for our English department.

    We also have a huge programme of revision sessions during term time; since September I have done Thursday lunchtime intervention sessions and this developed from January to a Thursday lunch and after school session with another teacher too, alongside Monday night catch up sessions and a Wednesday extra curricular club. The time commitment is pretty huge but has it made a difference? It is difficult to get the most disadvantaged, disenfranchised students to attend such sessions too. Definitely worth a questionnaire being put out to students to see whether they value this additional time!

  2. I lead the revision programme for our Year 11 geographers and in terms of ‘extra’s’ it consists of a 12 week programme starting from February half term with an hour a week after school on a Monday – each session carefully planned and linked to a particular topic with associated questions / model answers etc.. There is a dedicated blog with electronic resources including podcasts and flash cards and bespoke revision guides I have written to cover the course. Students are also doing an exam question every week for homework linked into the theme of the revision session which is marked thoroughly and a ‘strength, action, response’ given to ‘close the gap’ and ensure students learn from and make progress ready for their next exam question to help develop exam technique. This term there will also be a clear programme of revision within the lessons and a final revision session in the day or two before the exams. For us lessons during Easter holidays would be overkill for both staff and students – I want the students to actually be revising for themselves. I often think that some students feel just because they have been sat in front of a teacher for an hour they have learnt and revised and that it means they don’t need to do anything extra for themselves. Staff (and students) also need some ‘recharge’ time to face the frenetic next few weeks ahead and to be refreshed and ready to hit it running!

    • I have found myself wrestling with this one too. I began working at a new school in September and have found the two school cultures very different despite having very similar student profiles. At my previous school when I spoke to SLT regarding Easter revision, they very clear that it should be optional for students (and teachers) and was not emcouraged. This meant I only held revision sessions when it was clear students need ed a little extra support or confidence boost. I now find myself in a school where Easter revision is almost expected in every subject and it has already been mentioned on several occasions that perhaps we could run Saturday revision… I do feel this tips the balance with teacher input far outweighing that of students & can lead to issues in Post 16. It also makes a work life balance very difficult. If you find the answer to getting the balance right please let me know!

  3. Really interesting read, thanks.

    I come at this from a different view point. I recently blogged about my step-daugther’s work life balance (or indeed total lack of it) at http://robertfdrummond.com/professional-reading/highers-the-best-we-can-do/

    Now, the point of my post was that she works VERY hard. One of her teachers has ‘misunderstod’ the expectations of coursework (the school’s words, not mine) leaving her a huge amount of work to do. She’s about to head into school now for the 3rd consecutive day of her ‘holiday’.

    My feeling is that the system is wrong, or at least broken. If she (who works very hard, listens in class etc) has to pull in all this extra work to succeed, then the syllabus is not realistic for the time it’s allocated.

    Should teachers have to go into school to support children in their holidays? No.

    Should children have to go into school in order to succeed in their exams? No

    Should the exam system and syllabus be brought into line with 2015? Very probably.

  4. I have just spent two weeks working through lunch breaks and before and after school tutoring – all for vulnerable students. Would do again without hesitation. Except for those students who absent themselves from the initial teaching, then the revision and re teaching and all the other opportunities to check their work. How do they absent themselves? Let me start to count the ways:
    they are in class but chatting through instruction or listening to music with earbuds in their ears;
    they don’t do the practice exercises, they lack rigour to do that and try to work out what is not easy and miss chances to learn.
    When they are really ABSENT from classes for field trips, excursions, VET or FE they don’t take responsibility for catching up, instead they chat, listen to more music and leave for appointments with the counsellor because they are overwhelmed and stressed by their workload (or is it the lack of concrete achievement from persisting and learning through making mistakes?).
    Then the day of the test or major task over-due-and-must-be-in-today they ask for help…if I were a cynic, I might be tempted to say some want the pen held or the answers checked.
    When is it revision and when the revision initial teaching?
    So I would love to run revision classes in student’s time and I would run them during term as an alternative to the real classes. This way the students might value and not waste teacher time with the timetabled 1st, 2nd and 3rd runs through.

  5. thanks for the blog. Good points here. I have this battle with myself whenever Saturday schools are organized, or holiday revision etc at weekend or holidays. I’m reaching the point in my head that if pupils are hitting their targets does it matter if I give hours of my life outside of normal 70 hours a week??! I remind myself that I have two children that want, deserve and need my time at home. They are more important than my job. My pupils are important but if I devote every ounce of my being to them my own family will suffer. It’s a hard call on many respects but I’m at peace with it-just! Enjoy your holidays!

  6. Thanks for raising this, Amjad.

    If you haven’t seen them already, I’d also recommend these posts by @kennypieper: http://justtryingtobebetter.net/taking-away-the-water-wings/

    and @PsychologyMarc: https://psychologyineducation.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/how-to-create-a-helpless-student/

    I do think this is a very difficult issue, and actually wasn’t able to answer your question. I do worry that, as Kenny says in his post, if we put on voluntary extra sessions, often the ones who attend are the ones who least need to. We should be focussing on providing a structure within which students take responsibility and do what they need to do, and in that way prepare them for the rest of their lives, including perhaps in Further or HIgher Education where they will need to be more motivated, disciplined and organised. If we do too much for them (often for very good reasons), it’s the ‘giving a man a fish rather than teaching him to fish’ thing. But that takes some discipline and grit on our side. And I find it hard to criticise teachers for giving up their time and energies and expending discretionary effort in organising additional holiday revision sessions because they care so much about pupils achieving their best..

    In the school where I was a head there were some subjects who offered revision sessions in holidays, but more departments who offered lunchtime ‘clinics’ throughout the year, and these were effective I think – including with the Sixth Form, especially if students got into difficulties/had been absent/were falling behind. We would discuss this with the student and their parents and make these ‘voluntary’ clinics compulsory for a time until the student got back on track.

    However, I feel concerned about such ‘additional’ sessions, whenever they are, becoming increasingly ‘expected’ by students, parents and perhaps heads and senior leaders. And I worry that where teacher workload is concerned we’re in danger of getting caught in a speed trap of our own making.

    So just a few more thoughts to add to your collection!

  7. Great post. Really enjoyed reading this.

    My thoughts are that teachers should only provide revision classes if they are paid for it. The fact that there are teachers giving their time for free sets a precedent that leads to all teachers being expected to do the same, as well as adding to the downward pressure on salaries in general. We are professionals, not slaves. Setting boundaries and sticking to them does not make us selfish or uncaring, rather having a sense of self-worth, and I wish many teachers would stop contributing to the impossible expectations that lead to burnout, mental illness and high turnover within the profession.

    Regardless of the emotional pull of seeking to make the world a fairer place, it must be remembered that teenagers are programmed to mope about or spend their time trying to look cool. Bear in mind that after you’ve slogged your guts out trying to help said teenager, they will probably go home and play on the playstation. I think this is the reality check we all need to remember.

    I also think it’s important to remember that in the private sector individuals who go above and beyond for the company they work for tend to be rewarded with things like company cars, bonuses, extra holiday, promotion, free health care, a slice of the pie via shares etc. In education, a teacher will find that the slogging of guts will lead to their being given more work to do, whilst the failing teacher will be promoted to SLT.

    I like your link to Bill Gates’ thoughts. I agree with them entirely. I think that, at 16, one should really be knuckling down and not expecting teachers to help you catch up constantly.

  8. I tell my students I am happy to help them during their morning break or lunchtime. Those who really want my help mange to find me. Those who would rather play football usually forget. However, they all know that I will not change my plans after school. They met their coursework deadlines. I share this class with another colleague who has offered to support them after school two nights a week. The half a dozen students who most often asked for time, but rarely found me during their lunch break, have taken two months longer to complete their coursework for this colleague. It is similar with expectation of extra classes/revision. We need our students to understand how important the lesson time is. If they are not actively using the revision packs and resources I give them, then they are simply looking for a general ‘make me feel better about the course’ session. I want my students to tell me more precisely exactly what they want help with! I have only recently become this ‘tough’ on the kids, but I’m worried how we’ve raised expectations of extra time. I honestly think it has had a negative impact.

  9. My school doesn’t offer Easter revision due to the fact we are a boarding school and it would be unfair on those students that live far away from the school and cannot attend. However it is an unwritten expectation to provide lunchtime, after school or Wednesday Afternoon (for 6th form) sessions.
    I have no problem with this and tell the students that I do not plan these sessions, they are there for them to come to me with a specific question, gap in knowledge or if they want to go through an assessment in more detail. These session a long with my availability for 1-2-1’s around my timetable and Email are available all year round not just in the run up to the exams.

    Students are not forced to these sessions but I make it clear they are there if they choose to come and if not I have done my part the rest is up to them.

    I have nothing against the Easter revision sessions or cram sessions just before the exam however I do think that they should be directed by students and not something the lazy students can rely on at the end of the course. I am a huge advocate of students taking ownership of their learning and part of that is ASKING for help and support and not just expecting it to be there.

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