Well, it’s been a busy few weeks – did we have any school holidays? I seem to have a few minutes spare, but that is probably because I have forgotten what it is I am supposed to be doing. Never mind, I thought I would sit down and gather my thoughts and reflect on what we have done in the first two weeks of term.
Reports, reports, reports. But of course, you need to mark work before you can write the reports because there has to be an assessment grade for each subject on the report. That was my holiday. (Oh, woe is me! No, really I had plenty of time to relax and spend time with family too.) Then once the reports are written, for form teachers comes the mixed blessing of proof reading reports. I say mixed bag because I really enjoy reading how the students in my form class are getting on in their different subjects. I teach my form class for English but I also teach some of them for Spanish. It is always fascinating to see how they respond to other subjects and other teachers. I start to see a whole person and not just the part that learns in my lessons. On the other hand, there is the tedium of checking for spelling errors, missed or extra commas, spaces, capital letters….. adherence to the Report Style Manual is absolute! However, that is a job that I can now put behind me until late November when the second round of reports is due!
Just a thought, a seedling sown by this article in The Guardian, what if we were limited to a twitter style report – 140 characters to succinctly get our messages about student learning to parents? This could be via social media on a more regular basis than the once a year workload nightmare of industrial age reports. This ongoing conversation could be supported by face to face meetings by request rather than at a “one date fits all, five minute speed dating” Parents’ Evening?
I love starting a new term, my students refreshed and curious to learn, new topics, new language, fresh ideas and raring to go. This term we are studying “Hugo” in English and, despite never having taught a film study before, I am really enjoying it. The wealth of materials on the internet provided me with a treasure trove of ideas during the holidays. My family did get a little bored with watching Hugo over and over again, and me pausing the film for key scenes and to analyse the lighting, camera shots, music – is it dietic or non-dietic sound? What are the connotations of the costumes, the soundtrack, the scene? My students are loving it so it was time well-spent and I feel like I have an inkling of what I am talking about!
Spanish classes are ramping up too – the seniors are focused on NCEA portfolio building, realising finally that some sense of urgency is required, and starting to connect the language they have learned over the last two years and joining the dots. They know more than they think they know but how do I encourage them to realise that and have more confidence to speak? The fear of not gaining Excellence is a huge inhibitor in language learning, and definitely a problem in a high stakes assessment system. Any suggestions as to how to overcome that barrier would be heartily welcome?