All that glitters ain’t gold, no, no
Prince – Gold – The Gold Experience
Below are the things I’ve used or tried in class that weren’t as successful as I expected/hoped (that’s not to say they don’t work for others). I have to remind myself … all that glitters ain’t gold!
Maybe with some of these I didn’t trial for long enough, or maybe I threw the baby out with the bathwater. I still feel some or all, are good ideas. I just realise that these things do need careful consideration before setting up; how are you going to run something and does it really have a purpose or are you just adding another unnecessary layer! So just because these haven’t worked for me it doesn’t mean they simply don’t work. They may be another teacher’s top tip… and if so that’s fantastic.
- Homework slips
I saw an idea where a homework slip was completed for a missed deadline. Actually it was two; one to glued in the book and one kept by myself to bring out parents’ evening. Seemed simple and effective enough. Off I trotted to photocopier and ran off a load.
It seemed a nice, efficient little system. However, for me personally it didn’t work the problem was I teach 6 lessons a day, 2 slips per students … I soon ran out, then had to make notes on a pad to remember to fill in after lesson. Also, it made a quick ‘who hasn’t done homework’ a much longer task and finally what to do if they missed deadline two! I had to file my slips somewhere. For me this just didn’t work.
What did work though was:
For students: When I gave out homework I did it at the start of the lesson, I’d say write today’s date and copy out the question, or I had a pre-printed slip and got them to glue in book at the top. Once all students had completed this I’d say now turn over onto a new page and we’ll start today’s lesson. So a week later when marking it was simple to check: a blank page is a blank page!
For me: I had my mark-book, if they handed in (on time) they got a quick green tick, (takes seconds to do) the rest a red cross. Next week when collecting the next lot of homework I’d still have my red cross, if the student had completed by then I’d go over with a green highlighter. At a quick glance I knew they’d handed in but late.
2) Pointless resources (work sheets)
‘Resource’ means “a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organisation in order to function effectively.”
I didn’t include an image, there would be too many!
For me I need to read that more often! If a resource doesn’t add to learning, only makes books prettier, or uses up some time (cutting/gluing) then bin it. If students whizz through a resource it doesn’t mean I’m an ace teacher, it means the work was too easy. If they cannot complete a resource and lots of blank space it was too challenging! As a teacher you need to weigh up the time spent creating, standing at the copier, cutting, handing out etc against the result.
I still love a well planned resource, but now I always ask myself does it add to learning?
3) My self help wall / independent work
This is a picture from my classroom a at the start of academic year 14/15. It took me hours to type, print off, cut up, laminate and then cut a second time. Ok, I cheated I got my youngest daughter to help me! I hoped students could help themselves and improve their work. There were two of these a (sort of) KS3 and a KS4 wall. There were sentence starters, laminated guides etc and it sort of started well. The problem, again, was that I hadn’t factored using ‘the wall’ into my lessons. So students never got up, I never went to them and it just became a pretty colourful wall display.
This just didn’t work for me. I will try to do something similar to this again at some point, but next time I will plan actually ‘using’ the resources/wall into my lessons, therefore, it needs to be built around your SOW/units etc. Then I believe it would work.
4) My class folders
Like other teachers, I have to have a list of set of documents relating to each class I teach that is supposed to be in my folder. It always begins well, then after a timetable change I start to go wrong. Mid-term, lots going on and keeping my folder up-to-date seems to get pushed to the bottom of my pile of work. Then student A doesn’t get on with B so I have to re-do my seating plan but I have to do two versions; one for the wall and one for my class folder… that’s if I can find it!
I feel bad for putting my class folder in this blog. It’s a necessity. I’m just not very good with it. Any suggestions please let me know how to stay on top of it.
After publishing this blog, thanks to
@amforrester1, I’ve added ppt to my list and rightly so (thanks Amy for the reminder).
Over the last year I’ve desperately tried to move away from ppt led lessons, with lots of slides, images, questions etc. To give you an idea why…
The image on the left is where my lessons go to retire, or sleep or die – who knows! And on the right is the inside of just one of the 137 folders I have.
I have spent hours planning lessons for units and year groups. Last year I read a blog I think by Andy Tharby, ( @atharby) if I have that wrong I will correct, where he discussed time consuming activities he was going to do less of. I agreed with him.
To cut a long story short ppt is an area I feel I spend a lot of time on (similar to resources) and I’m not convinced the end result is worth it. So, over the last year I’ve moved away from them. It has freed up so much time. I now just source good quality content and match up with skill based learning.
What I am going to do (when I have time) is create a set of skill based lessons to teach a technique, device, method (whichever name you want to use) accurately. For example all students can pick out alliteration – what students need to be able to do is analyse why it’s effective. When I get time I will build a bank of lessons teaching a particular device, why it’s effective and why an author may choose that over a different device. That would be time better spent rather than hundreds of individual ppt for Macbeth for yr8, Macbeth for bottom set year 10 and Macbeth for yr11 revision!!!
Language …(scratch that) … MATS
I made up these lovely language mats, I printed off (in colour) about 150, I then sat for hours and laminated all mats, distributed around the department. All teachers then taped to a desk. They looked lovely!
I should just stop there, because one by one, students ‘picked’ at the sellotape, pulled them off, played with them, rolled them, flicked them, poked them, drew on them…until they all had to be removed because they looked awful. They didn’t work how I expected them to. Maybe I should have just dragged them out when needed.
Bottom line another waste of resources and time.
7) Anything that adds an unnecessary layer
I’m not going to list or be negative with other people’s incentives, but there are lots out there in the world of teaching that just adds a layer and I decided a while ago anything that adds an unnecessary layer or let me re-phrase doesn’t add to learning is just making a tough job every tougher.
I am sure there are lots and lots more I’ve tried and not been as successful as I’d have liked these are just the ones that spring to mind! Educating students has several purposes; it could be to give them skills for a specific career, or to prepare them for the next step (college, sixth-form, apprenticeship etc). It can also be to teach lifelong values, or the ability to explore new ideas and to think independently. I am part of a system that will help them get there and I need to make sure I get my support mechanisms right!
Oh and to counter my negativity – I am writing a blog on my favourite resources/ideas!