For me, this year has been challenging being my first year teaching.
What I enjoyed
An aspect that I enjoyed was managing two tutor groups. I enjoyed making sure that they are working well and solving any problems that occurred along the way. This is something that I feel I have an advantage in due to my background in psychology and working with a diverse group of individuals.
I used Pro-monitor productively and effectively which helped me to manage my groups. I ensured that they had SMART targets so they always had a goal to achieve which helped them progress. This also helps as you can use it as a means of recording data and showing progress and achievements throughout the year. I have also found it useful to show it to parents.
I think this tool is very useful as it allows you to monitor students progression. It also allows student to see what they need to achieve. This is an excellent opportunity during tutorial when I had 1-to-ones with my learners. I could improve this by ensuring that students use this more regularly to ensure the effectiveness. This tool also needs to be managed more by myself and given any opportunity i should be using this tool. This is something that I need to use more efficiently next year.
What I did not enjoy
An A level group has always been expected to set high standards for themselves and that is something that I struggled with this year as I didn’t expect certain behaviours. This expectations is based on my understanding of A level students and based on my schemas.
Some students would attend class and then eat when I would look away. Although, I have contacted their personal tutors nothing was done about this. I found myself getting annoyed with them every lesson as I had to remind them to put the crisps away, which I thought, was something they should know. My tutor groups are well managed and behaved but with some of my A level students I found that they were not easily managed. I then realised (more so towards the end of the year!) that just because you are not their tutor does not mean you cannot manage their behaviour. It is your class and therefore it is up to you to manage them during that lesson! Therefore, if behaviour is a problem, rather than continuing the specification, set some time aside to talk about their behaviour and also re-instate the rules.
What I learnt
The biggest lesson I have learnt is to stay clam focused and in control, not just with students but also with staff! There are some people that do not have the same beliefs and work ethics, therefore you have to learn to continue working with them.
Also, its important to have a work-life balance (try)! The amount of work that is expected from an HE establishment is a lot! You can spend hours and hours working and will still find there is still a lot to do. Therefore, it’s important to look after yourself and come into work energetic and ready to continue with the work. This has an impact on the way you deliver your teaching as it has a direct effect on your well being and your mood.
What I will do next year
I would introduce rules at the beginning of each class. As Petty (2009) states, first impressions count! Some rules are generic which are specified in the course handbook, however, some rules are your rules that you apply to your lessons. Therefore, rules will be set at the beginning of the year, with the agreement of the students so that they know they are now young capable adults that are expected to be responsible, and when students start to test their boundaries, the rules are reinstated alongside consequences.
These are the rules that we agreed to with one of my groups:
This year I only introduced the rules at the beginning of the year. However, what I have learnt from talking to other colleagues is that it effective to re-introduce the rules throughout the year.
Another aspect I will change is the way I taught A levels. This year the “chalk” and “talk” was encouraged and there was less opportunity for active learning until they started to revise. Therefore, next year I will try, where appropriate, to implement more interactive and engage students in the process of active learning. More Flip Learning will be given to learners to encourage learners to focus on work outside of the classroom allowing students to rehearse the content. This will ensure that content moves from STM to LTM (Petty, 2009).
Petty, G (2009). Teaching Today: A Practical Guide. 4th ed. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.
Petty, G (2009). Evidence-Based Teaching, A practical approach, 2nd edition, Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes