“It wasn’t my fault, they didn’t want to play today, it was his fault, if only I hadn’t said what I’d said”. This is how we often hear children speak when they did something they weren’t proud of, or they realised they weren’t up to the mark and expectations hadn’t been met. But is this something we as teachers should be saying? Why? I hear you ask… Well pull up a chair, get a cuppa and a slice of cake and I’ll tell you.

On Wednesday we had the school improvement partner in. Now we have recently been upgraded from the old satisfactory to the new good with outstanding management. But we still pay for this specialist service to come in and tell us how to get better. I received an email on Monday to say that she would be popping in for a bout 15 minutes to see my teaching, period 2 on Wednesday. My heart sank. Bottom set year 10. Predicted E’s with most of the characters from my group from hell last year.

I have worked on the hyperactive child to get her to sit in her chair, the lad who never has a pen, now knows where he can get one in my class without asking. The school refuser well he turns up,when he feels like it. The budding nail artist…. Well say no more, you know the characters and yes I even have one who paints in her eyebrows!!!

Anyway she is looking for the magic progress, stretch and challenge. I plan my lesson as normal, but think I’ll try it out on my set 2 year 10 first on the Tuesday. And yep they all get on with the tasks and all make progress, learn something new and consolidate previous knowledge. Hence with some major tweaking I simplify the tasks to ensure they are differentiated down but still have challenge and I think that I’m ready.

I will give a brief synopsis of the lesson and then you can make your mind up about the result!

Meet the class at the door, uniform issues are rife and yes school refuser and for the sake of ease I shall call “lad” from now on is here. After much discussion uniform is sorted and in he bumbles, all 6ft 17 stone of him, and he seems out of sorts already.  Before I can start he shouts across the room at quiet girl! So warning number one on the board.

Up comes the starter, taking a leaf out of @lazyteacher after our amazing inset night, I use a “What does the human body have in common with a car?” Knowing we are doing B1 of the OCR GCSE. Healthy bodies etc, and C1 combustion, nice link I think!

Now here’s the problem that magic word ‘think’ they struggled to even come up with any ideas until prompted. “Lad” decided to start pulling faces at another student and I catch him, warning number 2. At this point he does the usual, ‘I didn’t do nuffink miss’ but I choose to ignore this and move on. Eventually a few ideas were forthcoming and I introduced the main part of the lesson.

A circus of tasks where each task was taken from an exam paper, and this fed into a revision mind map made of pictures and a few words.

The idea being, they do the task, and this reminds them of the concepts from each module and they annotate the Mind map.  Simple I think??!!!

“Lad” has decided now not to talk to me, at all, he point blank refuses to look at me or answer any directed questions even after prompting, using @lazyteachers method of if I get “dunno” then get some one else to give the answer and go back. But still nothing. So now am panicking anytime now they will arrive.

I’m in full flow explaining the task, in the three walk.  Director of specialism, acting head of faculty and school improvement partner. To be faced with a silent class, who are not moving about, engaging or doing anything, coz they think laddie is funny!!!

I realise and try to re-group, tackle each pair, encourage them to go and select an activity, move about, start thinking and do something.

What progressed was a rapid fall into panic, they didn’t talk to the SIP, couldn’t tell her what we’d done, she looked at books but they wouldn’t engage in any fashion about what they’d learnt or were doing.  I couldn’t send him out as he wasn’t disruptive, he wasn’t disturbing others’ learning only his own.

By this time I had realised I was in the proverbial!  They left, I carried on to the end and then waited for the inevitable.

By now you get the picture. Requires improvement was the verdict.

But is this because I am a poor teacher, or is it because some how these children have lost interest in education? They don’t see the relevance of being forced through a science GCSE, when most are struggling to write In full sentences. They have no aspirations

How do we engage and motivate these children? How do we generate the importance, when the next day laddie is off timetable playing rugby for the school and being applauded for his performance. Yet he can’t complete 6 tasks in an hour.

This lesson shocked me to the very core of my being, the feedback came verbally at lunch time. She believed the challenge was too high and it should have been more differentiated, smaller chunks. They should have got up out of their seats, instead of me giving out work which they didn’t complete.

Is it the system that is flawed, that you can make a judgment on 15-20 mins whether students are making progress when I’ve spent 4 weeks installing the rules for learning.

Is this a behaviour for learning issue that needs addressing from primary, or are kids forced into education so young that they have lost the fun and pleasure of learning because they are being tested beyond all reasonable expectation?

Or was I just having a bad day as were the kids?  I don’t know the answers, and if anyone does can you let me know.

So I am licking my wounds, and reflecting on how do I get these kids through the exam but make it worth while and help turn out responsible, effective decent citizens.

I have since had a long discussion with @musicmind who has reassured me with many things and that I should use the ‘unpick it, unpack it, post it, send it, share it’ method and I am embracing my own evaluation of learning and teaching and continually seeking to be the best that I can be. I do believe I am a good teacher and that I instil the will of learning in my students – maybe this time I should just vent away the dark moment, think of the glorious days and tell myself – ‘welcome to the world of education where all things great and small CAN make a difference!’

Lesson slides