Today was spent at a local secondary school observing lessons and procedures.
To go back to a school which you left 16 years ago is odd enough, however this was a new building built on the same grounds – so even odder. In the process I managed to meet some of my old teachers as well who recognised me. Bizarre after such a long period of time – maybe I was that amazing that I stood out ?
The purpose of this visit was to see how different secondary education is compared to the FE environment I currently work in. The first thing was the start times – 08:30 to start and 14:45 finish, and only half an hour at lunch. Doesn’t make a massive difference – but allowing students to leave a bit earlier is a safety aspect – being a bit lighter in particular during winter periods.
The behaviour aspect of pupils is also completely different, and something I don’t remember from my days at school. Pupils were removed from classes for being disrespectful, loud, rude and generally ill behaved. I spent an hour with the head of one of the houses going around removing the poorly behaved pupils. After a teacher had sent them out of the classroom or told them off several times with no effect – they would radio in for the head of the house to remove them or take details or send them somewhere else. This process worked well and I could clearly see the advantages. The head of the house is provided with more authority and ability to deal with such matters whilst the teacher can be left to teach. It’s a simple but effective concept to implement.
The rest of the day was spent with the Business Studies department.These were AS and BTEC A-level students working in relatively small groups. Their behaviour as sixth form students was as expected – polite, quiet working. The difference being that they were from various schools within the academy, brought in on buses to meet and be taught in one place. This I could see was the academy structure in place and reaping the benefits of strong relations with other schools in the area.
The classroom management of the sixth form students was interesting to see. There was the use of an appetizer but only because this was a triple session of one subject. Within the normal one hour time constraints I fear that this would be very minimal – and probably in most cases not exist at all.
The one to one teaching was of good standard, and she clearly knew what she was talking about. Although basic ICT skills were missing from the teacher, and she struggled to use the facilities within the room. Maybe something to add to her own ILP ? She didn’t seem that interested in me being there either – not sure why though. She was well aware of me arriving that day. She either didn’t care or perceived me as a threat of some sort.
I’m in the process of arranging for further time to spent within the school observing different lessons, and seeing how different teachers manage, control and plan their classroom activities. The day provided an insight into the life of teaching at comprehensive level – and is something I’ll continue to look further in to.
…of course there is the element of being called Sir or Mr Hinchliffe everyday by the other teachers. Felt odd, a bit unnerving at times – like they were trying to sell me insurance or something similar.