The half term break was nice. I think. I don’t really remember it. The questions ‘was that really only last week?’ and ‘did we actually have a break?’ have been stuck on a loop at school since Monday, but thankfully, I can say it is nice to be back.
To keep things going in a pattern of throwing myself in at the deep end though, I started my second half term as a teacher by starting an after school club every night for the month (see previous posts on NaNoWriMo), extra meetings and a Saturday training day. Forget forgetting half term, I can’t really remember what evenings and weekends are.
It has been good though, and that is a really positive thing for me after what I felt was such a shaky start. I’m still getting good feedback from my meetings with the external support, and I was even able to beat her to some suggestions this week, covering things I’d already thought to do myself.
I think the key to my success this week though has been down to the ‘relaunch’ lesson I taught on Monday. The first session I had with my class after the break was all about revisiting the point of our class, expectations, rules and rewards. I can’t say for definite whether or not it was down to that lesson or other factors, but in the days that followed that the behaviour of the students was fantastic. Detentions given out were at an all time low by the end of the week and I even had a whole day without any negative sanctions given out at all.
Returning after a break can be a bit daunting. The students from poor home lives have had the chance to forget all the work you’ve done with them, and any damaging relationships they might experience at home have had time to undo any social progress you’ve made, which is evident in a lot of cases just after weekends, a far shorter time than half term breaks.*
For now though, things seem to be going well. I’m more confident, the students have produced enough work now to make some great displays with and I’ve got a better relationship with them than I did in September (which feels like years ago). Even the workload (which isn’t any easier) isn’t stressing me out quite as much.
The biggest positive thing for me this week though has to be my after school club. Anything extra curricular means you see ensure seeing some students that want to learn, and the reminder of this in the form of students that turn up with a smile on their faces, even after a full day of lessons, reminds you of all the great things about the job (cheesy, I know, sorry). The AMAZING thing though is that in the club I was afraid of students getting bored and not coming back if they were writing the whole time, so had lots of activities planned, and most of them opted to get on with the writing, they were enjoying it so much! By the end of the week the group had collectively written 15k words, which is an unbelievable achievement, and more so when I remember that some that I teach struggle to write a sentence a day at times. The reminder that there are some kids that love learning, and that want to make you proud, is worth the long days.
*Saying this kind of thing can often sound derogatory and condescending. It is not intended like this. It is a pure and simple fact that the area I teach in has a lot of social problems and the majority of my job and the other staff at my school is spent working on these, as well as educating the students.