Roller-Coastering through School

Droopy says it best.

Everything is constantly conflicting and clashing and bumping around in my head these days.
I’m learning to go easier on myself – I can’t expect to succeed and blow kids out of the water. I can’t expect to be able to silence and command a class effectively in my first week at school. I have to learn how to do these things – which is why I am a STUDENT teacher. I need to remember that.

I’ve been getting positive feedback, and I’ve been getting some good, practical targets to work on. The kids aren’t opposed to me, and I think some even enjoy having me teach (the younger ones more so than the older ones)… I can, after all, tell a story. I have fun and feel comfortable in front of the class.

I am always amazed at how quickly and easily I can fall in love with children. There are some who just have a special magical ability to pull at the heartstrings. Sometimes they are the kids who look at you with longing for approval in their eyes. The ones who are eager to help and answer questions.

There are also the quiet ones who manage to turn written assignments into something creative and unique. Teachers might complain about marking work, but I love it (so far!) because I always, always end up smiling at something. It’s such a unique chance to see the personality of a quiet student and to get to know them better.

There are the ones who just can’t sit still, and my heart is breaking for them because school is just so damn hard for them. I get mad at them, and I tell them off because they’re being disruptive, but when I leave school.. I think about them because I don’t know what to do for them.

“measurable outcomes may be the least important part of learning”: THIS is at the very heart of my frustrations with everything in education at the moment.
In each lesson plan, I have to plan for a measurable outcome. At my school, I have to put an ‘aim’, ‘must’ and ‘should’ on the board for my students to copy down. For example:
Aim: Students should be able to list six steps to how a cow saved the world.
Must: be able to list the process of Jenner’s discovery of smallpox.
Should: be able to explain why it was so important.

This drives me nuts! The kids walk in and the first thing they do is write down a specific goal to learn that day. While I DO understand the benefit of it… what about the mystery? What about encouraging independent thinking, where they have to learn what the aim of the class was on their own?
So many of the students in my classes are so bright, it seems insulting to spell things like this out for them. Also – there are definitely more things being learned than the aims on the board – but kids can, and will zone out because they know they do not ‘need’ the information… because it’s not part of the AIMS.

Similarly, I am being constantly assessed myself. Fortunately, I cannot ‘fail’ this placement. But I can fail the next two. This means that something in this whole process is ‘measurable’. WHAT?
HOW? How will it be possible to measure my learning in this whole experience? What is being measured?

Ah, that’s enough writing for now. I need to spend some time with people who have NOTHING TO DO WITH SCHOOL, so that I can sleep well tonight and not wake up at 6am having been lesson planning in my sleep.

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