changing students mindsets with no help from the Arctic Monkeys

I suggest you listen to a song. It is by the Arctic Monkeys and it’s called ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cos I Move Your Chair’. In the song, the ‘Monkeys take you through a list of things you shouldn’t do. From listening to the song I now know that I shouldn’t ever “find a well known hard man and start a fight” and I definitely shouldn’t wear a shell suit on bonfire night. But the Sheffield boys missed out one key lyric from their song….

…don’t give back marked work at the end of a college day…

I’m not sure what you would rhyme that with, I’m not sure whether it would sound any good sung along to drums and guitars. But I do know that giving students their marked assignments back at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon is a definite no no….especially when it hasn’t passed. I can understand my learners points of view. They have to attend around 4 hours of lectures of a course they signed up for and they even had to go to McDonald’s for lunch. So why now is this teacher who spends hours marking their work telling them they have to do work?! Bless them, they are naive. They think they can half-ass an assignment and pass it first time. Once I had explained to the students that the ones who had passed could go home and the ones who hadn’t were staying to complete it, I knew I had done my job! No I’m not being sadistic, my job isn’t making students life hell. Those students who did stay completely changed their work ethic and I swear I could of heard one of them say “I’m gonna work harder on it next time”. Giving students these small life lessons is why I do the job. The reason I am a teacher is not only because I want to pass on my knowledge, I also want to improve each student as a person. In my eyes, it is my job to make polish the rough diamonds I have and to make each student more employable. When you see a students mindset change, it makes it all worthwhile ūüôā

3 Hours of marking later…..

A very short one tonight, unfortunately I’m still at my desk and have just completed 3 hours worth of marking. It sounds a lot but it equates to only 10¬†assignments¬†ūüė¶¬†

On the bright side, my students were on perfect form today. One student tried to convince me that cranberry juice qualifies as water because the liquid in it comes from the pacific ocean! Also, a group of my students have taken on the project of organising the college end of year event. I¬†haven’t¬†the heart to tell them that hiring out a warehouse and having a rave is probably not going to get the OK from the management team. Looking forward to discussing progression with them all tomorrow, find out what sort of jobs this lot plan on doing!

Schemes and Dreams

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You cannot put down any of my students for thinking big. My first 2 lessons today involved setting business¬†students¬†the task of¬†and running an event. I gave the students the added incentive that if they make a profit from this event they can keep the majority of it as long as a portion of it was given to charity. Suddenly my room was full of Alan Sugar’s and Richard Branson’s. I’m going to place a wager with you – First, ask any 16 or 17 year old to organise an event that aims to make a profit. I bet you my job that every single one of them will come back with the same idea – a party.¬†

“Let’s do a project x!”

Lets not! After setting out some ground rules on the events (no alcohol, gambling, fighting, nudity) the students really got their creative of juices flowing and came up with some great ideas. Unfortunately, the were some that were not so good. You have to worry about the future of business when one student claimed that “if we hire a field, put a bouncy castle in it and charge ¬£20 or summin” I had serious doubts that my students would pull this off. Other not so great ideas were – selling sugar (not really sure how that is an event), teacher UFC and a strip club in college (“dont worry sir, it will be classy”). Eventually with a little bit of guidance, the students have settled on some good ideas and I was really proud when the majority of them said that they would donate all of their profits to charity. It’s not something you would expect from kids that age to give away hard earned money so it¬†surprised¬†me – well done guys!

I also spent the evening¬†interviewer¬†school students who had applied to start my course next year. I’ve got to say that the students I met this evening where polite, courteous and gave a great account of themselves. Each one of them expressed an interest in learning more and developing their skills and they shared their dreams and aspirations like any naive 15 year old would. I really cant wait to get them in my class and teach them.

4 weeks, 4 days left….

4 weeks and 4 days left. How many times have you heard that today? Once teachers have gone through the usual, “how are you? How was half-term? Did you do anything interesting?” The conversation usually finishes with the countdown to the next break in term time. After repeating this conversation 6 or 7 times I headed out to my first class which was full of eager students ready to learn. Whoops! Did I say full? What I meant to say was only half of my class were on time. Why were they late? My favourite response was the blunt “The bus that gets me in on time is too early”. Oops! Did I say eager to learn? What I meant to say to was, eager to catch up on all the gossip from half term. “I got a job”, “I went to this party”, “I wrote-off my car” and so on. In all honesty it was today that was the write-off. In every single lesson I had to try and use engaging lesson activities in¬†attempt¬†to battle teenage gossip….it was a massacre (no thanks to the new series of TOWIE last night).

Despite the lack of learning taking place today (it will only be today!), I did miss my students over half-term and I think its important that there is a bond between the teacher and student. The fact that the students wanted to share their gossip with me and catch up with me as well as their peers counts for something. Although I do miss my students during my breaks, I’m counting down the next 4 weeks and 4 days until the next one!

If you like my blog, feel free to comment, follow, retweet or share it on Facebook with anyone you think will enjoy it,

Thanks

TruthOfTeaching

Half-Term, Does It Really Exist?

It’s Friday 22nd February which means one thing…..today is the last day of half-term and we go back to work on Monday!

If you are a non-teacher I know what you’re thinking, you think that teachers have absolutely no right to complain about anything¬†because¬†we spend 1/4 of the year on ‘holiday’ and when we do work it’s only¬†until¬†3:30pm! I wish this was the case! I could write page after page on how hard we work but I want to focus on half-term. Today is day 5 of my break and I have been in the office…..5 days! I’m not saying that every teacher spends their break in their school working every hour, but any teacher who is not perfect and super efficient at planning probably had a stack of marking at the start of the week. I have worked my ass of every day this week and guess what? I still have a huge stack of marking! Yes I have met a friend for lunch and on a couple of occasions I¬†haven’t¬†left my bed until 10am, but for the rest of the time I’ve been intensely marking and planning. ¬†

If I’m working this hard, does half-term really exist?

The answer is yes it does exist, but it’s not what everyone¬†perceives¬†it to be. For all you new and aspiring teachers out there, do not expect a lovely week off where you do nothing. My perception of half-term is that it is a sort of ‘catch-up’ week. It‚Äôs like being at work but with a few luxuries thrown in¬†¬†

¬†I should say now that some teachers are ‘super efficient’ and ‘perfect’ but like most, I am not. In my opinion, my classroom management and teaching abilities are excellent, but my¬†organisation¬†and marking are quite poor. I love being in the classroom, when I’m teaching it doesn’t even feel like a job. Despite regularly lecturing my students on becoming the independent learner and the importance of self-motivation, I struggle to motivate myself when it comes to marking their assignments. I do get the job done, but leading up to half-term (or any break) I get into the mindset that other things are more¬†important¬†and the assignments can be left for half-term.¬†

For all of the established teachers reading this, I know you’re screaming at me saying “why have you been in the office 5 times this week?” It pains me to say this, but I am the king of¬†procrastination. If I am in the comfort of my own home I will eat 6 meals a day + snacks, I will clean the house from top to bottom and I might even do some exercise, there is always something else to do before I pick up that pen and mark.¬†So please help me! Does¬†anyone¬†have any advice to help me with my marking strategy?

Half-term does exist; it‚Äôs a week available for us teachers to use as we want. If I can change my mindset or come up with a new marking strategy I may just be able to enjoy the whole week off……until I have kids

(ps from Monday, the blog will be a daily update of my teaching practice and anything funny, unusual or exciting that happened)

Why Do I Love Teaching?

I love my job! It’s half-term and I am writing this blog from my bed. Once I have written this, I plan to get up , do some marking, planning and maybe meet a¬†friend¬†for lunch. This is the life, right? As good as the holidays are, there are many other reasons why I enjoy being a teacher. Those who read my last post will think that I’m a teacher because I stumbled into the profession. Although this is what happened (See my previous post), that is not the reason I am still a teacher. I am now in my 4th year of teaching and I still love every minute. What I want to discuss is why do I love teaching and how do I know I love it?

Why Do I Love Teaching?

I was recently on a trip in a local town centre; my students were competing in a local trade fair with products they had made themselves. Although these students were excellent, it was a former student that I bumped into that made my day. She was back from university for a long weekend (hopefully not missing any lectures) and we got chatting. At my institution she studied travel and tourism and as a business teacher I was drafted in to help teach ‘The Business of Travel and Tourism.’ For those of you who have taught this unit will know that teaching limited liability and cash flow forecasts to a bunch of T&T students is near impossible. During our catch-up, my student told me that part of her degree¬†involved¬†composing cash flow forecasts. To my extreme satisfaction and pride, my student said that thanks to my teaching, she¬†remembered¬†how to create them and even ended up teaching all of her friends on the same course. For me, this is why I love teaching.

I love that you can pass on your knowledge and enthusiasm for a subject. I love when I can help a student overcome a problem. I love when a student achieves a higher grade than expected because I spent that little bit of extra time with them. I love when a student remembers something I told them the week before! I love when you see a previous student and they have gone on to be what they want to be! I love inspiring people and helping them find their way. Finally, yes I do love the time off ūüôā

How Do I Know I Love It?

Ever heard of the phrase, ‘you¬†don’t¬†know what¬†you’ve¬†got ’til it‚Äôs gone’ or ‘you¬†don’t¬†miss the water¬†until¬†your well runs dry’? Both of these clich√©s helped me discover my love for teaching. Growing up, I didn’t want the lowly paying job of a teacher, I wanted to be a high-flying city boy earning millions and driving fast cars. After my first year of teaching (and one year into my qualification) I still¬†didn’t¬†consider teaching as my career, it was more of a stop-gap. I regularly applied for jobs on the internet working in London within the finance industry and eventually got a job offer that would give me the flash lifestyle I desired. Excellent, I could now leave the world of teaching behind, yes I would have to drop my units mid-term and yes I would heap loads of work on my colleagues and friends, but I¬†didn’t¬†care because I was getting a pay rise and the job of my dreams. What I didn’t know was that I was actually leaving the job of my dreams….

After no time at all, I would find myself at my new desk, daydreaming and wondering how my students and former colleagues were doing, all the while doing a job that made me feel like a liar and a thief and giving nothing back to society. Teaching was my water and the well had run dry

I missed teaching…

The¬†realization¬†hit me like a tonne of bricks, for the second time in my life, I’d made a stupid decision and it had backfired. I must have done a half-decent job back at my old college because my legend of a manager (thank you, thank you, thank you!) took me back with open arms. In fact, when I swallowed my pride and made the call to beg for my job back, she knew how the conversation would end before she picked up the phone. Fast forward a couple of years and I am still going strong. So how do I know I love teaching? Simple, I’ve tried other things, I’ve tried leaving and I missed it. Now I can reflect on my short time in the profession and my decisions and I can honestly say there is no job like teaching. So if you are reading this and you love your job, you should know what I‚Äôm talking about. If times are tough and you’re thinking of quitting, I would weigh up your options and think about whether you would miss helping people,¬†benefiting¬†society, inspiring your students?

Those Who Can, Teach!

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When you ask most teachers why they entered the profession, the usual answer is “I’ve always wanted to be teacher”. The majority of my colleagues and teacher friends (yes we do mix in the same circles) grew up¬†idolizing¬†those who taught them and always aspired to fill their boots and inspire the next generation of teachers. Another familiar story is a son or daughter carrying on the¬†family¬†tradition, following in their mother or fathers footsteps. But this contradicts the famous saying of ‘those who can, teach’. Just because you have always wanted to be a teacher¬†does not¬†mean you can actually do it! When people ask me why I became a teacher there is a simple answer, I fell into it. I know what you are thinking, how can you fall into teaching? I will tell you how using a simple equation:

Not enough studying + Too much partying = a very poor degree

I cant even bring myself to write down what grade I achieved in my economics degree but lets say that it stopped my big-money-finance-role-in-the-city¬†ambitions¬†dead in their tracks. I was left working part time in a supermarket thinking about what I would do with my life. A friend of¬†friend¬†worked at a local college and needed short term cover for a business studies class and said someone with my personality should apply. I should state now that I am an outgoing and positive person who could be considered as a bit of a showman. What I mean by this is that I can think on the spot and ‘wing’ it. Fast forward 2 weeks and I was in front of my 1st class with the students none the wiser they had someone pretty much walk in off the street and teach them their level 3¬†qualification. I didn’t freeze, I didn’t freak out or get nervous. I just stood up their and taught, all the while the famous quote was running through my head, ‘those who can, teach….those who can, teach”. Then it dawned on me that……..wow, I can teach!

But why am I telling you this? If you are out there reading this and you are thinking about becoming a teacher, its not just about what you WANT to do, its all about what you CAN do. In other words, can you be a teacher?

What do you think?

  • What do you think is more important? Wanting to be a teacher or ability?
  • How did you get into education?
  • Why do you want to be a teacher?

Next time: Now that I can teach, do I want to?

The Truth Of Teaching

– WARNING –

This blog is composed by a real teacher and will contain the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth of teaching. Read this if:

1. You are a teacher – Feel safe that you’re not on your own

2. You are thinking of becoming a teacher – hopefully this will help you make your mind up one way or the other

3. You are a student – If you really want to know what teachers think then read on…..

My aim is to update this blog on a regular basis to give whoever is interested an insight into the day to day life of a teacher. I am 24, Male and teach in a respected FE college. I hope that anyone who reads this will join in any debates, share their opinions and hopefully solve any problems that you or I come across in our teaching environments. Feel free to ask any questions, ENJOY!