I write this blog under the influence of cider given to me by the lady who cleans my classroom. I don’t drink during the weekdays but it is the penultimate week before the end of the year and we are starting to wind down – aren’t we?
Just because we are winding down, doesn’t mean that we can give up doing what we do. Would you accept the fact that the decorator used a slightly different shade in the living room on the last day of a decorating job, or that a surgeon didn’t quite suture you up as cleanly as he would have done at the beginning of his shift? Of course we are easing of the pedal at this time of year, assessments are done, reports have been submitted and even the walls are starting to be ripped down ready for the new year. However, lessons (in whatever guise) continue to take place; I still have another four English and Mathematics lessons left to teach!
In actual fact, one of the best pieces of sage advice that I received from my ATW was to “Keep the children on timetable for as long as possible; there are enough distractions [sports days, end of year productions and celebrations] to wind the children up!” I also accept that we are all exhausted (I have had two days where I have had over ten hours sleep as opposed to the usual five/six), but I still feel passionate about maintaining engagement and giving the children opportunities to learn.
Meanwhile, there are some teachers who think it is ok to provide children with tasks that barely relate to taught subjects, let alone support the intended learning objective. We are all guilty, some more than others, of searching the internet for an activity relating to the unit of work we are teaching and then form the lesson around the activity, but does this always work? I have always found it tricky teaching from another person’s plan, but, if I didn’t support the team planning we have in school, I would be buried under inordinate amounts of unnecessary planning. When you plan as a team however, you can speak to your teaching partner, you can discuss the teaching and learning and, when you know them well, you can usually second guess their thoughts. When you teach from a plan that you have downloaded the previous night however, you are faced with a level of uncertainty and insufficient knowledge of previous learning, and so, are unable to provide quality first teaching.
There are many great resources available from some fantastic free and fee paying websites, of which I have contributed to and drawn from, but it is most important that we make sure that we use them to support our teaching and not guide our teaching. In other words, don’t make the teaching fit the resource, make the resource fit the teaching.