Step 1: print a black and white photo of each child
On A 4 paper. I over-exposed the pictures slightly to make the shadows stand out. You can do this on your camera first or on your computer after taking the pics. It's fine not to bother.
Step 2: outline then shade the shadows
I always tell them to draw around it as if they're cutting it out.
For the shadows, they simply find the most prominent shadows, draw around then and shade them in. Black marker works best. Avoid too much around the eyes and mouth, because it gives a moustache and punched-in-the-face look! Remember the hair and shirt.
Step 3: trace the outline and shadows
We used sticky-tac to attach it to the windows. It doesn't take long, so they can take turns. They just trace the outline and the outlines of the shadows.
Step 4: shade the shadows in a bold colour. Cut it out.
Use marker or maybe waxed crayon
Step 5: stick it on a bright, contrasting SQUARE of paper
. The square gives it the pop art feel. You can talk to your children about their colour choices after looking at some pop art examples. The squares also mean that you can put them all together in a grid on the wall (see top photo). When they stick them onto the square, they'll have to do a bit of arranging and trimming.
Voila! Easy-peasy pop art! Enjoy!
Over the years, I've simplified my classroom. Themes and magical transformations often end up more about teacher competition and pressure than actually beneficial to the children. I do make fresh displays each year, but they're quick and simple. I have deliberately left them blank until the children start. I want them to notice what is added. Plus, I will do a lot of it during the lesson. For example, I may bring one of the Creating sheets from the writing wall to the front while we think of vocabulary we could add, or send children to write notes on it.
Really simple working wall. No backing paper. It's just coloured paper with a very quick border on. Throughout the unit, I'll glue pictures, tips and examples on. When we're finished, I'll take them down and treasury tag them into our own reference book, then quickly put new papers up. The titles will stay all year. They're simple, hand-drawn titles. If you're not very neat, go for a sketchy or doodly style or print them. They're not laminated because no one will be messing with them, so why waste the time and plastic to make them too shiny to read?
Another very similar one. Simple and could be used to keep as a book. I feel like I may add a couple more pages to this, but I'm not sure what yet. I'll see what they need as we get going. Again, these took under a minute each: draw a big explosion on a piece of paper. The titles can be as comic-style as you want or you could print them. (Next year, I will try to remember to scan version before cutting them out. Then you can print them!)
The title is done in the same way as the Writing one: a strip of laminating cut-off or OHP sheet to use as a whiteboard section. The How pages will have instructions, guides and tips. I will add them as we go to ensure they have maximum benefit and maximum impact. The Why will have real life applications.
We are an IPC school, so we used topic-based teaching, but this type of display could be used for any number of things.
Other Bits and Bobs
I hope you enjoyed this little classroom tour! You may notice a lack of backing paper. I don't like it. Waste of time, waste of paper, gets tatty. Plus, if your walls are white, even the brightest colours somehow seem to darken the room. If I had boards and therefore had to back them, I think I'd do white with colourful borders. You may also notice a lack of behaviour management system. I give Dojo points, keeping the window open on the projector (we have no IWBs) and class merits (for whole-class achievements & they choose a treat after 50). I don't have ANY negative reinforcement. No chart to move down, no Dojo points removed. No humiliation. I like it.
I'd love to hear your tips and advice in the comments below and don't forget to like and share please. Keep your eyes peeled on YouTube for a video tour coming very soon!
Your planning is done. Your pencil pots are immaculate. Your walls look like a centrefold from House and Garden. Now what? What are you actually going to do with those 30 children when they walk into your room for the first time? Here are my tips to a great first day (bonus: a lot of these save you time, too!)
1. See what they do
2. Engage them right from the start
I incorporated a bit of rule-making in mine. I did an activity inspired by the Bill of Rights. I gave each child 2 strips of paper. They wrote a rule or right on each (I talked to them briefly about positive wording, e.g. “listen to others” rather than “don’t shout out”). Next, they came together to discuss them. They had to narrow them down to 5 rules out of their 8. They could combine them rather than discarding them if they wished. Finally, they rank them in order of importance and stick them onto a large paper (see the pic at the top). I love this as a first activity because you can see how they interact, if there are any bossy ones!
Next lesson, we did Maths. I introduced times tables speed tests and we did our first one. This takes a while the first time. After that, we had a go at learning a Numberock song about time.
After break, we read The Dot and did some Vashti-inspired art work.
We ended the day with a book tasting: I put several books out on each table. We discussed ways of choosing a book (looking at the cover, reading the first page, checking that you can understand it). The children went round in friendship pairs and chose a book for paired reading.
As you can see, we did a full day of lessons. They were busy, engaged and therefore better behaved.
3. Chat and Watch
Instead of a 'getting to know you activity', in which you actually learn very little, make sure that your lessons allow for time to watch them and to chat to them. Taking the day described above as an example, when they were doing their Bill of Rights activity, I watched and listened. I took in how they were interacting with each other. When they were doing their artwork, I spent 5 minutes at each table and just chatted to them informally. You'll find out loads more this way that if you ask them to write about their summer (cringe) or to write 2 truths and a lie etc.
4. Pile on the Praise
Make sure you praise them as much as possible. Especially if you're having to deal with some behaviour management issues. The praise will counteract it. I also target those children that I've been warned off. Try to make it as sincere as possible (no sing-song voices). This is part of the fresh start for some of them. Another tip here, try not to over-focus on those children you're not expecting to have the best behaviour. They notice. They're used to being the centre of attention, for better or worse, and it may surprise them to blend in for a while.
So, there you have it. My 4 top tips to an awesome start. Let me know in the comments below if you have any tips or if you try out any of these ideas and don't forget to share this with anyone you think may be interested!
I resisted Class Dojo for a while. I wasn't really looking for any behaviour management help and I was a little wary of how public it is to the rest of the class. What made me try it? To be honest, pure curiosity. Everyone was talking about it and I couldn't really form an opinion without trying it. Now, I love it! There are different ways to use the features and to implement it into your classroom, so here's my guide to how I use it. It really works for me!
This is very important to me, I NEVER TAKE OFF POINTS. Ever. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement. I've worked at schools with very challenging children filling classes of 33 and still wouldn't take off points. There are a few reasons for this, the main one being that the positive action is not negated by a negative action. They still did the positive thing. The second reason is that it is public. Positives should be public, negative should be private. I've tried and tested this and overall, behaviour improves every time.
What do I give points for?
On Dojo, you can choose the reasons for the points. Our school has 7 Cs the children work towards (collaboration, communication, commitment, confidence etc). They're a little like the 8 Personal Goals in the IPC. Mine are tied to those. Each time they demonstrate a skill, they get a point. I also have one for demonstrating Growth Mindset and sometimes add them for specific goals, eg. reading.
How do I manage the practicalities of giving the points?
I have the Dojo website up on the IWB most of the time. Either I give the points then, or let the children go up and put on their own. They love that!
What is the 'point' of the points?
I've heard lots of ideas on this one, the most popular seeming to be some kind of Dojo shop in school where children spend points. I don't believe in 'prizes' in the classroom. The reward in my class is very simple and very highly sought after: each week I post the 'winner' on the class story page. That's it! The parents all get to see who has earned the most points and I give a little insight into what they earned them for. They love it! Each week, I reset the points.
Team / Group Points
You can organise the children into teams or groups and award points to the whole team. Any given like this give each child a point and one for the team. Each week, we see which team has the most points and they are 'team of the week' the following week. Again, this has quite minimal benefit, but that doesn't seem to matter, which is kind of nice really. Team of the week might get to sit on the table when we read stories, customise their monster on Dojo, line up for lunch first, sit on a cushion... it really varies from class to class. I usually discuss it with them at the start of the year. Again, I reset the points each week.
Whole Class Points
There is a 'whole class' tally on the main page, which keeps track of the points accumulated overall. However, I don't use this. I have a 'student' (fake) whose name is Class. When the children do something well as a class, that fake student gets a point. This one I don't reset each week (you can 'select all' to reset them, then just untick this one). When they have 50, the children get to choose a treat. We've had lots of things, from pyjama parties to 'crafternoons'. At the moment, they're about 8 points away from their treat, which will be Muggle Quidditch! (I think I'm more excited than they are!!).
I asked parents for permission to post photographs of their children on the class story. All but one agreed and the one who didn't was happy for her child's work, hands, voice, back of head etc. to go on there. For group photos or those where she is in the background, I can easily pixelate her using an app. It is such a lovely way to keep parents in the loop. Parents can like and comment on pictures. I'm sure that some people will not be able to use this feature without it causing issues, but you can turn comments off if you like. I've never had an issue with it so far. There is also a School Story, on which you can post things of interest to all parents. What's nice is that you can also post to just a single child's story. I don't use this that often because I like to share with the class, but sometimes the children do presentations and you can put a short video of it on their story. The may not want this sharing with the whole class full of parents, but it's nice for theirs to see. Note: at the moment, you can only post one picture per post, so I use collage apps like Layout sometimes to post multiple pics at once.
Notices and requests
It's handy to be able to post reminders about non-uniform days, swimming kits etc. You can also post notices about homework, show auditions and anything else useful. Last week, I had a mini brainwave and it worked really well!! I realised that I can post requests and the parents can all see what the other responses are. For example, if you're having a class party and you don't want 30 bags of Doritos, you can post what you'd like and ask the parents to comment with what they are bringing to avoid duplicates. I used it for Science experiment bits last week and it worked a treat! (See pic).
Surprising Extra Features
When I signed up, I hadn't realised that Class Dojo has lots of other features too! There are some really useful tools, like a random student selector, a group maker and a noise metre (although the latter always suggests my class are screaming, even if the room is empty!). There is also music for focus or activity, which is great for when you just need something immediately without faffing around. I also love the still-developing Big Ideas section. This has some lovely videos and guided activities on Growth Mindset, Mindfulness, Perseverance, Empathy and Gratitude. My class LOVE the mindfulness section. We use the meditation and movement really often and it's a great start or end to our day.
I completely surprised myself. I love it! I am moving schools (and countries) in August and was delighted to find that my new school use it as a whole school. They've already added me to their account and it's great to be able to really get a flavour of the place already. I am looking forward to continuing to use it next year and would be very disappointed if I worked somewhere where they didn't want us to.
I'd love to hear your experiences of Class Dojo and any tips you have for making a success of it. Comment below or on Facebook.
Okay, so I can hardly give a huge rant about giving up worksheets without actually giving some advice on how to do that! For WHY to live without them, see here. So, here are my practical tips for how to make it a success.
Note: I'm not saying that I NEVER use worksheets. Left for cover work, the occasional homework (don't get me started on homework!!), sometimes spicing up an activity - go for it, but keep it limited!
Do they need it?
Before you start to make that work sheet, think about it. Quick rule of thumb: if they CAN do it without, they SHOULD.
Give them shortcuts & freeeeeedom!
Let them to draw 'doodly' lines that are deliberately wavy instead of fussing with a ruler every time. Let them play with their gel pens. Let them choose how to present their work. Remember when you went to high school and that one teacher let you draw a cloud around your title? Loved it! Made me love the lesson. Made me learn more.
Don't make excuses for children who sometimes 'struggle'
It's okay if not everyone's work looks the same. It's even okay if it isn't all super neat. It takes experience and practice. Also, some children will surprise you. Plus, do you really think they don't notice?? That child who always gets a different sheet, or gets a sheet to 'help them out'. Do you realise how many of them would prefer to just have a go?
Know what's important
I'm not saying that there isn't a place for beautiful presentation. In fact, lack of worksheets has really helped my classes with this. However, it doesn't always matter. If you insist on specific and careful presentation, then you're going to lose 2 groups: those who hate doing it, so switch off and those who find it hard, so can't focus on their actual learning. As long as you can see that they understand the task, so what? I give the children 2 criteria: work must be neat and clear. I do include neat. I don't go on about it unless I'm specifically trying to teach them something about presentation, but I want them to not rush too much. The main one is CLEAR. I should be able to clearly see [whatever it is I want to see!]
Don't let anyone take over
I've worked with some amazing student teachers and teaching assistants, but it's not uncommon that to 'help', sometimes they take over. With this, chat to any other adults in your class to explain why you are no longer using worksheets. Tell them that a big part of it is about developing independence and that they do not need a worksheet drawing in their book or sentences written on a whiteboard for them to copy. I have two simple guidelines and I follow them myself (although it's hard!): don't touch their book and don't write for them to copy.
Anyone who regularly reads my blogs will know my feelings on worksheets. I’m not saying that I never use them, but it is certainly a rarity and only when I really feel that it improves learning or engagement. So, here are the reasons why I hate them!
1. They don't need them
Children are more than capable of writing in a book. I've seen sooooo many pointless worksheets: those with just a table on them, those with just a Venn diagram, a cloze passage, label the diagram... I can't think of very many that can't be done simply in a book. My biggest tip here: don't try to get them to 'draw a worksheet' in their book. Use the book as simply as possible.
2. I like my time
It's not that I'm lazy. It's just that I like my time and I don't want to waste a second of it! I certainly don't want to spend my evenings fighting with Word as it thinks it knows better than me and changes everything I do!! Even worse, some teachers make 3 different levels of worksheet for every task! (See point 6). Plus, even the simplest worksheets take time that could be better spent on one of my many other tasks. Or not.
3. They are a waste of money
Hands up if you think your school has enough money...no??? Have you ever seen your school's printing bill?! It would bring tears to your eyes! Honestly, if we taught children to use their exercise books more efficiently, just imagine what we could do with that money...
4. Erm...Eco Schools??
Most schools waste reams and reams of white, non-recycled paper (even though the shade of recycled paper is more dyslexia-friendly), then compound the issue by sticking that paper over blank pages in books! What?! We are supposed to be eco-friendly schools, setting a good example and teaching the children about the importance of caring for our environment. Recycling is all well and good, but we all know that REDUCE has a waaaaaay bigger impact than REUSE or RECYCLE.
5. It robs the children of creativity
One of the best things about abandoning the worksheet, is the freedom it allows the children. After you've done this for just a couple of weeks, the children begin to build an internal bank of ways to present their work. At this point, you can let them start to choose. Thinking about how best to present the information means they have to consider what they are trying to show, their audience and their purpose. This builds other skills and also helps them to remember the learning point. Don't you like autonomy in your job wherever possible? Plus, you'll instantly engage your stationary geeks (like me!), who just love to play with their gel pens.
6. They're limiting
In addition to the above mentioned creative limitations, you will inevitably limit learning. The worksheet often dictates the outcome. Often, we have other activities planned, but I know of many children who would look at the worksheet, see it as a 'minimum requirement' and pace themselves to do no more. Worse than this are the differentiated worksheets that limit some children. I believe in more of a 'rising tides raise all ships' approach wherever possible.
7. They actually take more lesson time
The biggest rebuttal I hear about this is that worksheets save precious learning time and couldn't possibly be abandoned. Try it. It takes a handful of lessons to get them speedier with drawing straight lines (not that I always insist on this - I teach mine to use a deliberately 'doodly' line sometimes to save time!). However, you can't underestimate the time and, most of all, stress, saved by not needing 30 glue sticks that all work, not having to say 'Jimmy, why is it that you still cannot stick a worksheet in straight?', not having to print (see point 10!), trim and handout 30 worksheets, not having someone say 'we don't have enough' despite the fact that you printed the right amount??? I have none of this. It's bliss. (Point to ponder: bet ya don't have them stick their sheet in during an observation...)
8. They get lost
Be honest...you've definitely had times when you can't be bothered with the glue stick mambo because the bell goes for lunch and you're desperate for the loo because you've been holding it for the past 2 hours! At which point, you promptly scoop up all of the sheets with the absolute certainty that you'll have the children stick them in next lesson. Three weeks later you discover them on a shelf. They would no longer make sense stuck into the books now...we all know what you're going do...
9. The take away my flexibility as a teacher
I don't stick to my plan. Ever. The worksheet is perfectly designed for my plan, but what use is that, when halfway through I realised that we needed more work on point A than on point B, or that the lesson was too easy and needed to move on to something more stretching? Or we just went off in a different direction because of a point that was raised? Or I just thought of something more fun? Or the children just had a better idea? Where is the worksheet? Either half done or in an overflowing scrap-paper tray. No thanks.
10. 1 word: Photocopier.
I rest my case.
I love to read. There is no greater gift we can give to the children in our charge than a love of reading. Saying you don't like to read is like saying you don't like films because you watched Scream 2 and didn't enjoy yourself. You just haven't found the right one!
With so many distractions outside of school - dance class, computer games, homework, family time - it can be hard for children (and adults!) to find the time to choose and get into a good book. So, why not build it into the school day? Now, I know what you're thinking: when?! But let's be honest, reading forms significant portion of the English curriculum. So many of the reading objectives can be covered through other lessons: topics you're covering, writing lessons, etc. So, really, dedicating some of the English slots to building a love of reading is not too much of an ask. Plus, the impact is well worth it. Plus, it's worth noting that I hate, hate, HATE Guided Reading! So, for me, this is one of many reading activities that replaces that time-drain. It's like having their own little book club!
Without further ado, here is my guide for implementing Paired Reading:
You've probably heard about this. It certainly isn't my idea. Pinterest and Instagram are full of wonderful, elaborate set-ups with table cloths, menus and all that jazz. I didn't do this. a) CBA b) i hate worksheets and most of this set-up involved some kind of print-out to guide the children on what to record. So, here's how I did it:
Each time we read, the children start by discussing what they've read so far and where they're up to. (The first time, they discussed what they expected). I give them a choice of four ways to share the book:
Quite often, we just do the reading. Sometimes, I give them something to do as a reflection task. These include:
Well, the idea came from the fact that hardly any of my Year 4 class had every read a chapter book!!! It can be very daunting. This way:
Final tip: if they give the book a try and don't like it, let them change it! There is nothing harder than reading a book you don't like. Plus, that wouldn't exactly help foster that love of reading!!
Please comment and share if you enjoyed this, especially if you try it or have any ideas for how to develop it!
1. Don't over-resource
Beautiful resources can really help to hook in your little learners and make their work feel special. However, be very careful not to over-resource your lessons. We've all been there - you're planning your next week's lessons, have a great idea for some awesome project and before you know it, you have spent hours making worksheets and guides for every step of the process. DON'T! Firstly, you don't have time. I don't care who you are or how efficient and organised you are, I guarantee that you have better things to do. Secondly, it doesn't always help. So, my absolute number one top tip is to think before you make! Ask yourself: will this improve learning? Will it be useful? Can the children do this without a worksheet? This leads into a little frustration of mine: I can't tell you how many times I've inherited a class of KS2 children that can't set their work out neatly on a page and are terrified by a blank sheet of paper. It does them a world of good to learn these skills and to begin to make their own choices about how to present their work. I'm not saying that you should never make a nice resource - take a look at my other posts and you'll see how much I love to make something special for their lessons - but consider what is worth your time. Spend your time wisely, preferably on things that can be re-used, and don't be afraid to download other people's resources. As long as you check them and adapt them to your class, there is no shame in using another teacher's ideas and activities - that's why we have blogs like these and resource-sharing websites: teachers helping out teachers.
2. Don't over-mark
Your time is precious. I am far from work-shy and completely understand the value of effective, timely feedback, but my time is limited and precious. So, this tip has 2 points:
a) When you plan your lessons for the coming week, think about how much marking you are giving yourself. If you have planned for the children to plan and write an extended piece in English, you know that you will need to be marking each day in order to feedback and help them to improve with each lesson. So, that week in Maths, aim for activities that you won't have to spend much time marking. Look for arithmetic that they can self-mark - this is not lazy, it is actually BETTER TEACHING! The children get instant feedback, can self-assess after seeing how they've done (we so often ask them to self-assess when they don't know if they're doing it right!) and you can address misconceptions immediately. All you have to do then is take a quick scan through to get a feel for what has been learnt. You could also look for more practical and team activities and games. The same applies to all of your subjects - take a good look at your week overall and make sure that you haven't planned lots of lessons that each need lots of marking.
b) You don't have to mark everything in-depth! Targeted feedback, linked to the learning objective and their next steps, is great and can really improve learning, but consider this: if they don't read it, it's not helpful!! If you have spent the time marking, build looking at it into the next lesson. Ask them to tell their partner what they did well and what their next step is. Also, remember that you don't have to 'deeply' mark every piece. Sometimes, it's fine to just focus on one point. For example, with longer writing pieces, I often just look for their next step. For Topic work, sometimes you want to ask them questions to extend their thinking and push the learning on, but you can't do that every time! Sometimes, a check and a tick is all it needs. Always remember: you are marking to feed back to the children and help them to learn more. You are NOT marking for your head teacher, the parents, or inspectors. If your teaching and marking has purpose and are helpful to the children, it will show.
3. Plan your whole week together
This one links to the ones above. Look at your whole week together, not just a subject at a time. The first things that I do when planning a week, is fill in a timetable overview. This is a piece of planning that I'm not 'required' to do, but it is the most useful thing that I do. Here's an example:
This helps me to 'see my week'. With this, I can see:
4. Be Flexible
Allow yourself to be flexible - don't be too tied by your lesson plans. I'm not going to lie, I hardly ever stick to my lesson plans! There are several reasons for this and, in my opinion, they are all worthwhile:
1) I spot something that needs fixing - we've all been there: you make a link to prior learning only to find that they haven't got the foundation knowledge or skills that you hoped they had. In this case, there is no purpose pushing on as if they have, just because it's in your plan. Fill the gap first!
2) They're bored - I plan what I think is exciting and fun, but they don't feel it. Change it! I have even been known to ask them 'how shall we make this more fun? What do you think would be a fun way to learn / practise this?'
3) I'm bored - sometimes I'm going through my planning in the morning with my TA and I'll just say 'well, I'm not in the mood for that - let's do something else!' I don't mean that I don't teach the objective or play party games instead, just that I spice it up a bit. Often, my TA will have an idea, or talking through it with her gives me an idea.
4) Big events - big things happen. Children notice. This could be a world event, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, and the children will be distracted by it. Don't tell them not to think about them - they will and should. Show them a children's news report, such as Newsround and ask them how they feel about it, how it will impact them and, if relevant, what we can do in response (fundraising, prayer, supporting each other). Sometimes, there will be a big event in the life of a child. This could be good or bad. Generally, I'd address bad things privately - if they are upset about something, I try to find a time early on in the day to have a chat with them and check that they are okay. If it's a good thing, I guarantee that they will not settle until they have told everyone!! They want to share their excitement, especially with you, and that's fine! Let them tell the class that they have a new puppy or a baby sister or a new rocket-shaped bed. They will tell people anyway and this way, they feel that you are celebrating with them and they won't be disrupting the class by miming it out across the room!
5) They have an idea or interest - the children will often show a keen interest in a particular aspect of a lesson or will ask a question that takes learning in a great but unexpected direction. I know that we have objectives to cover and targets to hit, but children will learn better if they are interested and engaged. Wherever you possibly can, try to follow their interests.
The weekly timetable plan helps with flexibility - you can easily see how a change will impact your week and where you can jiggle things around to fit in. Don't carry on with a lesson that is not working - sticking to a plan is not conducive to good teaching.
5. Let them laugh if it's funny!
This one is short but sweet: let them laugh! We need to teach children to be resilient if they are unintentionally the source of the humour - if you are the 'butt of the joke', 'the clutz', 'the one who made the ill-advised comment', it is far better to learn to laugh it off than to cry and feel picked-on because the others are laughing. Plus, hidden laughing behind hands and sniggering feels mean. If everyone is laughing with the teacher and it's all out loud, it's not some hidden embarrassment. You have to apply the same philosophy to yourself - I have done all sorts of embarassing things in front of my class! Falling down, walking into things, saying the wrong word - it's funny! I maintain that it is not cheeky to laugh as long as they know when to stop.
So, there you have it. My top tips to an enjoyable year. Enjoying your job is SOOO important: for you, for your class, for your colleagues, for your partner - for everyone. With the new school year upon us, if you only make one resolution, make it to do everything you can to enjoy yourself. Enjoy your class, enjoy your lessons and you'll be a wonderful teacher!
So, this week I have been trying something new.
At my school, we use the Maths No Problem scheme. For those of you who haven’t come across it, this is a Singapore Maths scheme that uses equipment, textbooks and workbooks. The lessons start with an ‘In Focus’ task, in which the children discuss approaches to a problem and then share their ideas.
To prepare for this, I have recently started giving the children ten minutes with the textbook at the end of each day. They ‘pre-study’ the lesson. They just take some time to look at it. They think about it. They can discuss it with their partner. Many of them flick back to the previous day’s lesson and begin to make links between their learning. Today, one pair even asked me if they could grab the equipment to start to make tenths and hundredths.
Only a few days in, this is already proving to be a very useful ten minutes. When I start the Maths lesson the next day, many of the children already have ideas or questions about the topic. They have begun to think about the Maths involved.
It is also encouraging independence. The children are learning to be less reliant. They are using study skills and reading skills along with the visuals in the book. I think that as we go on, I will be able to accelerate through some of the lessons, allowing more time for using the Maths Journals, which are used for deepening understanding, explaining different methods and reasoning.
My tips on how to implement this
(...so far! I'm sure that I'll have far more to add to this once I've been doing it for a while!)
Plans to expand!
So, obviously time is an issue here, but I'd like to roll this out across more of the curriculum. My plan is to give them some notes to study before some topics. We have LearnPads, so I'm going to put some presentations, notes and maybe even video clips (we have headphones!) on there about grammar topics, Science units etc. It's very similar to what we did for revision before the exams, but kind of in reverse. I think it might have a bigger impact than revising, but we'll see.
If you've done anything like this, please do comment and let me know any ideas or tips! Thanks!
Don't forget to comment and share if you like this or have anything to add (or if you spot one of my frequent typos!).
This time last year, I’d just been offered my current job here in Malta. A lot of people ask how I found it, what the move was like, what it’s like to teach here and how/if they should try it themselves. Although I’d be very hesitant to offer advice on the latter, what I can do is share my personal experience. So, I thought I’d split it into a few significant parts. Here’s the first!
Firstly, teaching abroad isn’t something I’d thought about. I’m not sure why - it’s a great fit for us! I don’t think I ever realised how easy it could be. I was just flicking through Facebook (as you do) and I happened across a post from an ex-colleague. She’s half Maltese and had moved to Malta a few years earlier. She just posted that there was a potential position at her school if any of her teacher friends fancied teaching in the sunshine! I flippantly typed ‘don’t tempt me’ and, here was the twist of fate, read her post to my husband (then showed him a picture of a turtle wearing a funny hat!). I’d like to clarify that sitting at home reading Facebook posts to my husband is just not something I do! I don’t know why I read this one. He then uttered the two words that changed everything. Why not? Damn good point.
After messaging back and forth with my Maltese friend (okay, being honest, ‘friend’ was a stretch at this point - we’d never so much as been for coffee), I established that English was an official language of Malta and that knowledge of Maltese was not necessary for the job. She then put me in touch with the SLT, who gave me some more information.
It was great having someone I could ask questions of. Unlike the UAE or other places, there are not hundreds of English teachers in Malta and it’s a tiny country. Therefore, there are no Facebook groups etc where I could find information for expat teachers there.
Within a few days, I had a Skype interview lined up. At this stage, I made my husband do a trial Skype call, as I’d never done one before!!
The Skype interview was worryingly short! We chatted about the school and a bit about my experience and then I was told that they’d be in touch. I then didn’t hear for a few of weeks! I have since learnt that this was due to the illness of the staff member in charge of recruitment, but needless to say it was a very looooong few weeks! We didn’t know if we were staying in the country or not!
As soon as I was offered the interview, I told my head teacher. Every school and every head is different, but I loved my school and the staff there and I had been there since the day the school opened, so I wanted to be completely honest from the start. Plus, it’s far easier to have that conversation when you’re considering a move abroad than if you’re just moving schools in England: you’re leaving your whole life in England.
After a few weeks, I got the email with the offer! Yay!
Now, the pay here is very low. It’s almost half what I was on in the UK. I knew this before the offer came through, so while I was waiting to hear, we did some serious budgeting. This is absolutely essential. Moving to another country requires money. (I’ll talk a bit more about this in the next post).
I was in a great position to move abroad: I’m lucky to have a husband who owns his own business and works online and over the phone (recruitment). This means that he can work from anywhere. In theory. In reality, the tax laws and social security contributions in each country make a HUGE difference, especially to his salary. Definitely look into this for your own salary and your parnter’s if travelling with someone.
So, all that remained was to revisit my husband’s initial reaction: why not? He could move with his job, we have no children, we have no major financial commitments and our family are in reasonable health. We were just approaching 31 and have been together since we were 16, so we know how to handle pretty much anything together! Our friends and relatives are having children, which is not something we want so we decided to have our own adventure!
In my next post, I’ll write about preparing to move, clearing out the house, bits of financial info that might be useful if you’re considering a move of your own and basically everything that happened between being offered the job and making the move.
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!