When I sat down to write this I realised that I didn’t write one last year. Oops.
5 things from 2016.
Y6 SATS and secondary school applications.
This was probably the biggest change that happened to us as a family. At the beginning of the school year we’d gone along to a meeting at school where they showed us some of the questions that were in the sample papers. I couldn’t do some of the SPAG ones. This was quite a shock to me and I was quite worried about how I was going to support my son when I didn’t know what fronted adverbials were and about all the different types of conjunctions.It broke my heart when he asked me if he’d be a failure if he didn’t get 100. Our children shouldn’t be thinking this way. He had a bit of a wobbly start to the year but with the support of his amazing teacher we got there. I felt pleased for him that he still got to learn other things other than preparing for SATS all year and I think the school did a good job of making sure that they children were not worried. He was positively running into school the week of the SATs – although I think that may have had something to do with the free breakfast (bacon rolls) that they put on for all the Y6 children and their teachers that week! I thought it was a nice way for them to start the day. I still struggle with fronted adverbials – even with the revision guide (for my benefit), I hope that by the time son number 2 reaches this stage I will have worked it out – failing that I’ll be getting my eldest to help me as he got his highest marks on the SPAG.
Applying for secondary schools was also a big step. It was quite an experience being on the other side at open evenings. My son really wanted to go to the local college. He really liked it when we looked around and it’s where all of his best friends were going. He would also be able to walk to/from school. I had my reservations. Their exam results the previous year 5A*-C were approximately half the value obtained at my school. The school has been taken over by a new (local) MAT and so far things look positive. My son is very happy and the recent Y7 parents evening was very positive. I have been really ptoud of the way that he has adapted to the changes and how he has thrown himself into college. It was a pleasure to hear from his teachers that he is well mannered, enthusiastic and takes real responsibility for his own learning. I have enjoyed him sharing pieces of homework with me that he says he is proud of.
This year I attended #teacher5adayscience at Eggars School in Hampshire. Around 50 science teachers from around the UK met up to talk about the new science GCSE’s. I found this really and the discussions since very helpful. I am hugely grateful to all of the teachers who have willingly shared ideas, resources, time and advice with me over the last year. A big thank you to @MartynReah and @Testbourne_Gray for organising. I also attended a TeachMeet recently at a local school and was able to share resources and ideas with them too – hopefully that is something that will be more frequent as i cam away with some really good suggestions – especially for getting students to look at assessment and to reflect on what they had done and well, what needed improving and what to do next.
@hrogerson told me about Quizlet last year and I introduced this to my Y9 class as a way of reviewing key vocabulary for our topics. It proved to be more popular than I was expecting. Once they realised that there was a game and that it had a leaderboard some of them became very competitive and were very pleased to announce to the class that they had knocked me off the top. For some students they found this a very effective way of revising and I found that after using this I was seeing more scientific words in their answers to questions. I shared it with Learning Support as I had a few students who worked there frequently and I wanted to share that they were finding this helpful. They really liked it – especially as it will read the text to the students – this will help the students with literacy difficulties – especially as it is something that they can access themselves. Learning Support then purchased a teacher account so that we could add pictures as they said this would be a big help. I’ve now produced around 90 quizzes for KS3/4 science and I’m in the process of helping teachers in other departments see how they could use this in their subject area. I know that it isn’t for everyone – but I’ve found that some of my more reluctant students will use this willingly and I found that one of my Triple scientists had set up a group for his class and added all of the relevant quizzes.
When my current bottom set Year 11 class took their science mock exam in Year 10 I found that they did not answer any questions that involved maths and they barely attempted the longer written answers. They were throwing away marks that I knew that they could access. I blogged about it here but basically went through all the past papers and pulled out all of the questions that contained maths, categorised them and we practised. We also continued to practise 6 mark questions.After the exam results were published I used Interchange to look at the marks that they had obtained on each question. Not only did they attempt the maths questions this time but a lot of the time they got all of the marks. Some students also obtained full marks on the 6 mark questions and I could see that even if they got 1-2 marks they hadn’t left it blank this time. A real success and something that I will continue to work on for the exams this summer.
I already knew that I worked in a wonderful department with some lovely people – but this year that was even more clear. This year has been very difficult at times and without their ongoing support I dread to think how I’d have felt.
5 things for 2017
- New GCSE – we are still in the early stages of introducing the new courses. We started with the current Y10 in the summer term of Y9 but with the current Y9 we’ll be starting earlier. There is a lot of work to do reviewing the SOW and making sure that we are reviewing work, writing assessments etc. I have (mostly) enjoyed being so involved in the changes but at times it has felt like a lot to do in far too little time. I want to feel that I’ve done the best for the students and the other staff that I work with.
- Year 11 – I have high hopes for my group this year. They are all going to get better grades than they did last year. Alongside the teacher that I share this group with we have worked hard to develop their self confidence and find the ways that we can best support them.We have identified the areas that they struggle with most and have worked out how to best focus their revision. Some of them have responded very positively and have made real progress this term. Some of the others will take a little more persuading – but they all know that we are prepared to work hard and that we are expecting them to do the same. We will get there.
- Balance – I think I write this everytime but I do need to take this more seriously. This holiday is the first one where I took a proper break. I didn’t do any planning, making resources etc for 2 weeks. The world didn’t end. I still had a massive list of things to do but I think I’ve been more effective after having a proper break from it. In that 2 weeks I even managed to finally teach myself to crochet.
- Connecting – this will go a long way to helping me with number 1. The teachers that I interact with on Twitter and at the various events that I’ve been to have helped me in countless ways. I look forward to connecting with more teachers this year.
- Future – I’ve been second in department for 2 years now and I’ve loved it. At the interview they asked me where I saw myself in 5 years and I told them that I’d be HOD. Now, that is still a few years away yet but I need to think about whether that is really where I want to head. There are days when I think that I’d love to do it and that I could do it – but plenty more where imposter syndrome strikes and I tell myself that I can’t. The other issue I have is that I love being part-time and I don’t want to work full-time and I’ve already been told that when the current HOD retires (hopefully not for a good while yet) the position will be full-time. I need to think about what else I could do when I decide that I want to do something different.