Category: NQT


Finally after the final lesson with my 9B4 and their science of cooking, the time had arrived for the ‘Big Dawlish Christmas Cook off’.

We spent two glorious lessons researching some of those amazing Christmas Dinners that were produced by the great chefs of our time, Heston, Jamie, Delia, Gordon and of course Nigella.
The kids had great ideas as a result of the seasonal inspiration; however the practicalities of a one hour lesson to produce three courses seem to be lost on them, it was as if we had all the time in the world, which was wonderful as they were so keen and excited about the whole venture.

So, with some careful encouragement and gentle prodding, they managed to create three courses in their groups and then generate some menus to go along with the food. These menus consisted of not only the delights but the science behind the menu. Which they seemed too managed without too much trouble, my goodness they had learnt something! and so much, never underestimate the powers of the learner I said to myself quietly – they’re very good actors and actresses pretending they hadn’t learnt much!

Strangely enough ice cream featured heavily on the menu, wonder why? And we had ‘mains’ ranging from Chicken wrapped in bacon to turkey pizza with a seasonal twist.

After many reminders sent home in planners and letters to parents, the day arrived. It was a lot like waiting for Christmas. The excitement and trepidation of wondering how it would all go nearly gave me a ‘funny turn’ in a nice way. Would they manage to control themselves in the kitchen? Work as a team? Manage their outbursts and produce something that would be remotely edible?

Period 3 arrived and they queued up outside bags at the ready, cooking ingredients and a lot of excitement. (I optimistically thought they had deposited their cooking ingredients at the Food Tech room.)

But sadly the disappointment that so often comes with Christmas happened; only 5 out of 11 had brought the ingredients, the excuses ranged from “I forgot”… “Mum said it was too expensive and didn’t see the point for science”! It’s bad enough we have to bring the stuff in for food tech” too. “I had a row with Mum last night and she threw me out and I stayed at a friend’s house”. This was my reformed lad who was completely gutted and almost in tears when he was talking to me. So now here is the dilemma, what to do? Sadly there wasn’t really much I could do but give those who didn’t have their stuff book work to complete while I managed the other 5.

I came to a compromise as my EAL lad had brought everything for his ice cream so I let reformed lad manage his group. This allowed him still to be involved with a position of authority and he once again stepped up to the mark, kept both the mains and pudding makers on task and he excelled in this role of responsibility. Commenting on how hard it was to keep everyone on task. (Welcome to my world I wanted to cry out) but I just told him what a brilliant job he was doing and don’t give up.

The other two who were also some of my more ‘literally lively’ characters who worked tirelessly to produce chicken in bacon, all the trimmings including Brussels and an amazing attempt at Baked Alaska.

 

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My reflection on this experiment is one of highs and lows. The end cook off didn’t quite go to plan but that is what happens when we are dealing with kids whose lives aren’t as stable and secure as we would like.

Their feelings on this has been that they have enjoyed it more than normal science lessons, they have learnt that there is much more to cooking than they realised, they also noticed that the lessons are calmer and more focused.

So where do we go from here that is the question for the New Year? How do I create project that links the content that I have to cover in order to meet the requirements of the exam but in a way that they will engage with it or do I stick to the current scheme of work, but will this break the relationships I have forged with one or two of the group?

Next year is a beckoning, my mind and body is tired now but I am sure with a rest I will find away to keep their interest, our journey isn’t over we still have a long way to go, and I am sure there will be a few more twist and turns, with some dead ends and one way streets to go down, but it’s the learning journey where the inclusivity aspect takes place and the fun happens rather than reaching the final destination.

Upon reflection I am very proud of my ‘upside down, inside out curriculum of inclusion’ so that I could build effective relationships with my learners, build trustful and respectful learning environments and getting me to think things in a different way. I think I shall reward myself with an apron which says…..’Keep Calm!’ and Rock on with Science Cooking’. To New Beginnings in January.

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Now, four weeks have passed since I started my epic journey on the topic of ‘The Science of Cooking’ with my 9B3.

They had been primed to expect a change to the topics and were somewhat skeptical about whether we would be doing food tech or science.

So, I introduced the topic with the view that we would learn some interesting science that could help us cook a three course Christmas dinner.

I started with ‘How do we Cook?’ We looked at the joys of convection, conduction, and radiation. The group had to set up the circus of pots, pans, spoons and utensils according to their instructions. They had to then carry out the practical, record their results then move to the next experiment. This was my first full blown practical with them, up till now I had done very small demonstrations, with lots of paper based activities, cutting sticking, making and the like.

This was a challenge as they are not very focused or independent, so the usual “What do I do Miss?” was the common cry however I refused to give in to the plaintive kitten like cries and referred them back to the instructions and praised those who managed to get some results.
The moving around and the joys of fire from Bunsen burners and radiant heaters proved too much for some, as the smell of burning paper wafted across the lab, resulting with me having to stop the practical and reminding them of the safety aspects needed for sensible practicals.

The next lesson took us to particle diagrams of conduction et al, however I was surprised by how much they had remembered from the previous lesson and that they had made links using the ideas of cooking using pans, grills, and ovens to the three different methods of heat transfer. We had an excellent discussion about the pros and cons of grilling vs frying bacon. This lesson they were calm, and focused which showed how they realised the practical application of science.

Lesson Three: This was the first one in the DT room, where we looked at cooking pancakes, with various ingredients missing. Well, to say that it was like ‘herding cats’ was an understatement, because I had made it very clear that they had to be organised, work as a team to ensure that they got the required ingredients, this was a shock to the group. Many of them couldn’t focus on what the instructions were, couldn’t get themselves organised to who was going to do what, hence they didn’t have enough of the ingredients and consequently pancakes didn’t cook as well. This led to almost toddleresque tantrums, of “it’s not fair, mine is rubbish”. However this was the lesson where those who got themselves organised were successful.

It was here that I had my first epiphany, one young man, who up to now had been difficult, recalcitrant, noisy, argumentative and generally disruptive shone like a star. He was calm, focused, pleasant, and polite plus worked like a Trojan. He produced a stunning pancake, beautifully browned on both sides and cooked to perfection. Not only did he achieve this with the mayhem of the rest of the group, he then proceeded to wash up huge amounts of detritus left behind by the other team members. He did this without complaining or nagging.

At the end of the lesson, I took him aside and told him how amazed and proud I was of him and that his level of focus was amazing, with one I hope to see again. I made an extra point of contacting anyone who had dealing with him to tell them much to their surprise how incredible he was.

This resulted in other members of staff especially those in the SLT commending him on his success.

So it was with trepidation I went on in to lesson four. We started with a discussion on the pros and cons of team work and how it was important to get ourselves organised which they all agreed on and then this was a lesson that just ended up with discussions. Not those ‘shoutey-out’ type ones, but where they were polite, respectful, inquisitive, and responsive. Truly amazing, a lesson where we went from pans and what they were made of, to space and the joys of Teflon and back again. No writing, no practical, just talk.

The Technician that had previously wondered about my journey with this class asked me at break whether that was ‘the group’ and I responded it was. She was amazed and said she couldn’t believe it. “They were eating out of your hand”, she commented, and on reflection I guess they were. Was this the light at the end of the tunnel? Had I finally turned a corner and they saw the need and application of science, time would tell.

A couple more lessons progressed with me now having to cover the essential curriculum bit for the test! (Don’t get me started, see previous blog) and here I thought things would get hard, but once again proved wrong! Tests were carried out on metals, with water and acid, pop tests were carried out safely, periodic tables were coloured in and patterns of reactivity were identified, and somehow I managed to keep the links with cooking alive.

We looked at why pans made of sodium wouldn’t be a good idea and conversely those made of gold. Discussions ensued and general pleasant times were had by all.

Wow, I am getting closer to the end of that tunnel and I feel we are coming into the light, (She says with some caution). I now believe that this smashing group of young people just needed ‘real live learning links’ to everyday objects in order to make connections rather than the invisible fantasies of how things that might work on that dreaded word Paper ! ! Maybe this has been the best thing for this class?

Still my learning star is shining; he is working, thinking, taking part, and encouraging others to listen. I am praising and praising him and others and ClassDojo is taking a back seat for a while.

Now on to solid, liquids and gases, and the creation of ice-cream in the lab. A sensible discussion took place about ice-cream and why it doesn’t taste so good when it’s been refrozen. We then set about making ice-cream in the lab in twenty minutes. Much fun and laughter was had in this lesson with more success on creating our own vanilla ice-cream. (See below for pictures)

By now you must be thinking well this is all fine she’s cracked it. But, I had to go on a course! This meant a cover teacher for one lesson. Set the work, ask them to reflect on what we have done and create a presentation of the areas of science we have covered.

I return and wham that light was an oncoming train, the train had been derailed. They were back to the old group. It’s amazing what can happen when you are gone.

Upon reflection it shows how consistency, boundaries, care and support can mean so much to vulnerable children who don’t get that at home. My star learner, once he knew I wasn’t going to be there didn’t even come in! Was that because of me or other issues? Don’t know. But maybe I have got through to him and he now trusts me to be there, and when I’m not his world is slightly rocked. It definitely rocked those that were there, and I have now to start again to repair the cracks. Is it worth the pain and tears? I think so, will it take as long? Probably not. But has their trust been broken a bit? Maybe

I am wondering if I have the strength to get to the Christmas bake off or whether to give it up for a bad lot and go back to the scheme of work!

Never been the kind of person to give up when the going gets tough so “ When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and that is what I shall do.

So, in short, they’ve learnt, I’ve learnt, we’ve learnt together, ‘Merry Christmas Year9’ you are the best CPD course I’ve had this term. You made me think, think again and think some more. You set me a challenge unlike no other – now I want you to tell me whether I have succeeded. I will ask them and I will celebrate the relationships we have developed this term and realise that teaching is a partnership – much like a marriage – you’ve got to work at it all the time – keep the spark !

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Sticking My Neck Out!

It’s been three weeks since I started on my foodie science journey with ‘That Group’ who thanks to @TrueEnglish365 I will now call 9B4.

The first week was one of ups and downs, as I started with ‘The Science of Cooking.’

I introduced the project with the idea that we would learn about Science through cooking and we would then at the end of term get to produce our own three course Christmas dinner. However, before they could do this they had to produce a Prezi on their learning journey through the term and how Science was going to help them create this meal.

I ran the brainstormed idea via our ‘Director of Specialism’ and my NQT mentor who both thought this a brave and bold stance, and the fact that I was doing something different for my students showed my level of commitment. For me, it was actually just about not having to be so miserable every time I taught them and not having that feeling of dread when their lessons arrived.

On the Monday evening we had a faculty meeting, so at the AOB I presented my master plan with an overview of what I wanted to achieve. At which point my HoD and KS3 co-ordinator thought it a great idea and ‘let’s give it a go.’ What have we got to lose!

However, I’m not sure what transpired during the evening, but I was faced with a different situation the next day.
After presenting the idea to 9B4 (which I will come back to later), I sat in the prep room for break where I was told that ‘of course they (that being (9B4) ) will have to sit the exam at the end of term’, and you are covering all of the content for this term, aren’t you?’ At which point I said. “well no!” I wasn’t covering the standard content as that was the whole point, the traditional/standard curriculum content wasn’t working for them and would it really matter if eight students didn’t take an exam that really didn’t tell us much more than we already knew!

This went down like a lead balloon, and the comment was” I’ll take it up with the HoD”, and swoosh they were gone. In the meantime, I was left wondering what just happened.

I was later told that day, in yet another passing comment that this class would have to sit the exam at in the beginning of January just like all the rest of year 9 otherwise the data wouldn’t be accurate and that it was all about standardisation. So find a way to teach the content.. ‘I’m sure you’re clever enough to do this’. And with a further flapping of wings they were gone.

So, to cut a long story short, I was gutted to say the least, what to do? Stop what I am doing and revert to standard SoW or go for it find a way to include reactivity series and acid rain into lessons on cooking.

I had a moan about teacher assessment on Twitter that evening and the general consensus was that teacher assessment was as valuable as sitting some recall exam!

Finally after a long weekend rewriting the direction of the work, I managed to incorporate reactivity series of metals in to the issue with pans and what they were made of etc.

No! I wasn’t (and I am certainly NOT) going to give up on these guys, or the work I had already done, and unfortunately sticking your neck above the barricade often gets it cut off sometimes.

I survived the machete attack and am finally making progress with the group, and much to my surprise I now look forward to these lessons rather than the feeling of dread I used to have.

So, in conclusion, believing in myself and the students and wanting to make a difference in an innovative and creative way is the path of true Inclusive Learning. Not only have the students learnt so much, by my own CPD journey has been one of reflectiveness, self-evaluation and prepared to be dedicated to the Learning and Teaching of my students REGARDLESS of what it takes.

May the cooking (and boiling of heads), negative people and jealousy begin.

Karen 1: Rest of the world 0

Eggciting challenges’ (or maybe the egg will be on my face).

Ofsted had got in the way of SLT helping with my very challenging bottom set Year 9 group who I have previously talked about in an earlier blog (No longer Bullet Proof). Resulting in the last week of term being left to fend off the advancing lions with a chair but no whip and not being very successful, I put my great Thinking Hat on – ‘Never give up’

The use of ‘Class Dojo’, has been somewhat helpful. The initial realisation that they could see a behaviour award for both their positive and negative behaviours was an interesting side line for all of, well a lesson! However, when the more disruptive elements of the class returned to lessons, Class Dojo turned into a competition to see how many reds could be accumulated, rather than how many greens for positives. The focus of the more disruptive elements became one of ‘miss I’m on task don’t I get a mark?, I’m not shouting out? Doesn’t that deserve a mark’ and the like.

I think the lions were trying to tame the keeper; however, I stuck to my guns and awarded marks as I felt were appropriate. So my feeling on ‘Class Dojo’ is one of mild annoyance at the moment.  A discussion on twitter produced this link to another view of ‘Class Dojo’ from @kennypiper  Class-Don’tjo  who has had similar issues.   I still want to use the tool but need to refocus my attention on the positives and less on the negatives.

I spent time during the weekend before the end of term, thinking about how I could engage this group in some real world applications of science. How do I make it relevant, real, meaningful and fun?

So, in all best work avoidance I returned to my love of baking and was busy in the kitchen cooking up a storm when it hit me, well actually it was my rather typical teenage son who mumbled ‘can I help, as I liked it when we used to cook when I was little.’ Eureka struck! This was my light bulb moment. If he likes it and wanted to do it at sixteen, maybe a group of hormonal Year 9’s who haven’t had much success at anything might like it as well.

Could I link science to cooking in a way that wasn’t Food Tech (no disrespect) but still covers the scientific topics, concepts and ideas that were needed for Year 9 and beyond?

With a burgeoning idea in mind, I thought how I would introduce this nugget of an idea to the group. The last lesson of term beckoned and I was tired, so looked to the good old video to show something different. Once more inspiration struck. How about the final of ‘The Great British Bake Off?’

I found the episode on BBC iplayer and introduced the idea that next half term we might do something similar. Initially there were the moans… ‘Don’t like food tech, can’t cook, cooking is for girls’. “Ah ah,” I said, in my best Inspector Clouseau voice……. Watch and learn. (Dundun dunnnnn imagine sound effects).

The video commenced amongst the realisation that it was all men competing for the prize. We watched about half an hour when I paused to discuss what they had seen, how did they feel about the participants? Much to my delight they were starting to make an emotional attachment to the stories of the contestants each choosing who they wanted to win, commenting on the judging, and discussing in a sensible fashion whether they thought the judges were right, fair, kind, specific and helpful in their comments. (See what I did there even Public Critique gets a look in)

The more reluctant of the group now moved forward to be able to see better, others told the chatterboxes to be quiet as they wanted to listen.

We laughed through the disastrous attempts at Fondant Fancies, with much talk of comparing Mr Kiplings offerings to Brendan Lynches creations.

We looked at the calculations of creating the correct sizes from the 20cm x 20cm cake. Yeah maths and they didn’t notice.

When, in the final challenge, James Horton had a disastrous attempt at making five chiffon cakes instead of one, with one hitting the floor. The gasps were audible. Again I stopped the video, discussing what did they think he would do? What would they do, how would he overcome this? This lead on to discussions about perseverance, resilience, keeping going under pressure, problem solving and the like, with the entire group wanting to have their say. Debating and evaluating the outcome.

When the final judging took place, we held our own vote, based purely on the visuals of the finished product.

They picked up on the fact James made five cakes and was this fair?

This led into a great conversation on fair testing with suggestions on the rights and wrongs of not following the brief.

I finally turned on the result and they were all cheering for their favourite and were surprised with the winner being John Whaite, there was uproar in the class.

What they didn’t realise was just by having these conversations we were using essential science skills needed when they do any scientific experiment.

So maybe the idea of allowing them to experience the highs and lows of cooking won’t be such a bad idea!

So, to summarise the Thinking & Learning Skills they developed in this lessons were: Resilience, perserverance, debating, evaluating, justifying and some social skills; namely that it’s ok to have conversation without yelling at each and a difference of opinion is healthy.

A week of two halves (Part 1)….

I sit here reflecting on my week of two halves.

I arrived at school thinking about the next two weeks of hard work ahead to get to half term. Still feeling a little bruised from my bullets of last week, but determined to do better this week.

I was sitting at the desk, planning for the week ahead while my Head Teacher was teaching the PSE class of year 9’s that I take over next term once I have finished my NQT. Now I try not to check my email to often as it so much of a distraction, but I thought I’d have a peek, and there it was, a message from the Head’s PA – Urgent.

It was a the call everyone is waiting for with dread…… HMI Ofsted called to speak to HT and will be ringing back after the lesson. Right so this is it, the CALL, it had to be OFSTED are coming.

First of all I picked my stomach up off the floor and thought about what was ahead of me. Two days of hell, nine lessons over two days where each and every lesson has to be planned to the max, etc..Firstly I had to teach the last two lessons of the day, without loosing the plot.

Finally about 1.15pm I check the email again and yes they are on their way, a meeting was called for 4pm to discuss the way forward.

I attended the meeting and the HT gave us the pep talk, yet you could see the worry in his eyes.

I returned to my room to re look at my lessons for Tuesday, I had luckily  prepared my data and seating plans so they were ready for scrutiny, I checked all my groups to make sure I had the IEP’s and everything ready for the big day.  I could identify the groups in my classes, use SISRA for checking on the progress of my tutor group, and any other piece of data I could find. (For those of you who know me Data is not my area of expertise, but I do my best to understand the myriad of graphs and comparisons that are sent out every six weeks. Although just to say CAP 1 hadn’t been done yet).

We were told that we didn’t need to do lesson plans but were encouraged to prepare them as it looked better to cover our behinds in case things went wrong! I worked until gone 9pm, making sure the room was as I wanted it, resources were printed, lessons differentiated, co-operative learning was in place, on and on the list went.

Finally, exhausted I returned home  to check my tweets, and there they were…. the support and twitter love from the collective that are amazing teachers out there. Re assuring me to be the best I can be, just do what I do normally, remember it’s their privileged to be in my room, the support was overwhelming and I was re-energised.

A recommendation from @Ljrn42 to get a play list of motivational songs, instigated another frantic tweet, so the call went out and I was inundated with ideas from @LGolton, @KevBartle, and pearls of wisdom from @Gwenelope, @hgalinoshea, @scieteachcremin, @aegilopoides, @hrogerson, @sciencetchr12,  and many others. I compiled my list and was ready. Went off to bed fairly late, alarm set for 6am.

At 4.30am I thinking that I wouldn’t get any sleep, as I seemed to have tossed and turned all night; I would get up, however the next thing I know the alarm went off and it was 6am time to get up.

Arrived a school early, prepped and pumped after listening to my OFSTED play list,  and I start my day. Firstly the meeting of  the  inspectors in the hall for a impromptu staff briefing. (Here is where I loose it a bit  they traipse in looking like a bunch of Hobbits, all black suits, and clip boards and stern faces.)

Lesson one, passed by, lesson two, lesson three still no sign, lessons are going well, most of the science department have been done, and still no sign, PPA time arrives; so now the planning for Wednesday begins, which is my worst day. Period 5 passes and still no visit.

I attend the literacy meeting with the inspectors where as the only NQT in the room I try not to look too inexperienced or nervous, get to say my bit and hope it made sense and was in line with the SEF!  That I had only had chance to revisit in the 15  minutes before the meeting. I leave thinking I had hopefully done my bit and worrying about tomorrow.

I retire home about 7ish thinking that Wednesday will be hell as it is 5 lesson day for me, plus a break duty and a bus duty to boot. Two KS4 lesson, with inactive year 10’s and 11’s,  with an interesting year 9 group and the group from hell. So I was worried about how Day 2 would go.

I have a quick check on the email upon arriving home and there it was, an email from Head Teacher, which now in hind sight I realise was done in good faith and encouragement. However was more of the kind of what aren’t we doing and make sure lessons had these covered for tomorrow. This had the effect of sending me into tail spins. Re looking at all my lessons and wondering what have I missed, what haven’t I covered, what could I be doing better.

Once more twitter comes to the rescue and I retire to bed, for another restless night ahead of me.

Wednesday arrives and no amount of rock music seems to raise the blood or confidence, just a deep down feeling of dread, I read through the tweets to encourage me. SLT are looking harassed, worried, exhausted and its not even 8am yet.

The rumors are flying around that Science will be first and especiallythat they are after Biology for a change. I take my tutor group into assembly, hoping the rumor mill was wrong. I  hot foot it back to my little lab to find a ‘hobbit’ waiting outside my room. She introduces herself as coming to see what I will be doing,(no kidding). Here I get the chance to point out my knowledge of my 10 set 2 group, my dyslexic pupil and one FSM in this group, I let her know what went before as I had half the group the day before with many missing as they were on a trip.

I won’t go into the ins and out of the lesson as that is for another post but it passed by and 35 minutes later she left, I sighed a huge sigh and thought that was my bit done.

Lesson 2, in come a rather hyped year 9 ready for fitness testing in the quad, first part of the lesson passes well, everyone on task and I check the clock, only 25 minutes left of the lesson to go and we’d been told that they were doing 25-30 min observations and I think well as they had seen me period 1 then I was done and dusted.

Oh how wrong, at exactly 22 minutes to go before the end, the door opens and in walks ‘the meerkat’, inspector number 2, to say  that I nearly passed out was an understatement. But on I went. I have never been so happy to hear the break bell in all my time.

Feedback was given for that lesson and it was a ‘GOOD’ lesson and I was relived and waited till lunch to hear the verdict on the first, which again this time was a ‘STRONG GOOD’. Upon reflection I should have asked loads of questions as to what I could do to make it even better but brain was in overload by this time and nerves were so frayed I couldn’t’ even construct a sensible sentence.

The rest of the lessons, passed by with an ever watchful eye on the door as who knows they could be back again. But we got to lunch to be told no more observations and they were now deliberating.

I conducted my bus duty and returned to the lab to plan my cover work for period 4 Thursday and all day Friday as the other half of my week wasn’t too far away.

I got to be there when the meetings concluded and it looked like SLT were happy with the outcomes and the school could hold its head up and say we did OK!

I went home exhausted and now wondering how was I to get through the next half of the week, with out completely running out of steam?…..

So on to the second half of the week… To be continued.

No longer Bullet Proof

This was the week I discovered I wasn’t bullet proof.

My NQT year has had its highs and lows during the last twelve months, but nothing that has laid me low or given me too much that I couldn’t resolve it. Yet this week has been by far one of the most challenging.

Lets set the scene I have a the bottom set year 9’s,  there are sixteen in the class who are all school action, school action plus with one statement child. Their issues are mainly related to the BESD spectrum.

The behavior and emotional ‘issues ‘I am not sure of as I am not privy to know all the details as there are various agencies involved. However enough to say,  two of the most challenging boys in this group are school refusers, a couple of the girls seem to have a dislike of authority. Which manifests itself in not wearing the correct school uniform, turning up consistently late, and generally conducting themselves in a fashion that means they have an answer for everything I say or do! Another has quite severe ADHD and she refuses to take her medication saying that she doesn’t need it and the doctors don’t know what they are talking about!

I have been having class management issues with this class from the beginning. They have no social skills, self awareness or ability to understand the consequences of their actions and how it impacts upon their own learning and that of the others in the the class.

I started the term with us deciding on the rules of the class and our expectations of each other, which although a lively lesson I felt was quite successful, little did I realise that no matter what is said one day the next they have forgotten.

I have planned using SOLO to help them see progress, I haven’t been explicit in sharing the views of SOLO but have been asking them to reflect on their learning as we go along.  Ha well I shall say I have tried.

As the weeks and lessons have progressed children have been in and out of the lessons depending on attendance, behavior at school and other extenuating factors that are beyond my control, so the class dynamics are constantly in flux as once I manage to set the expectations down with one combination of the group, the returners have to be re-integrated and don’t like the new order so do everything in their power to disrupt the learning. So now I spend a long time managing the class and the learning takes a back seat.

However last week after having a chat with @FergusonMr1, who is a NQT as well, he was struggling and we shared ideas and decided that it was time for our ‘WAR FACE’ to come out and make these kids take responsibility and for me to regain some ground.

So ‘WAR FACE’ on I took no prisoners, they were sent out to come into the class in a silent manner not once, twice but ten times, before all the group complied with the request. They were seated in a new seating plan, each one on a table alone, so no interference from others, and the lesson progressed with silent work on the relevant tasks that I had set, I walked around the room, helping those who followed the rules, hands up if you need help etc..

Every little infraction was noted, the school procedure was followed to the letter, which resulted in three pupils being removed and parked with other teachers, but the lesson was controlled and the pupils were compliant.

So I tried this a second lesson, and this time the pupils only were made to go out twice, and no one was parked, however this time the major personalities were out of the room again.

Now on to this week, I thought that by this stage they have understood some of the basics of general classroom behaviour and I would let them do some private work in the ICT suite. Most of them managed to produce a piece of work, except for the one who insisted every lesson that she wanted to pee. Having read a blog by (sorry can’t remember) but about ‘To Pee or Not to Pee’ those children who seem to find any excuse to leave the room, I stuck to my guns and refused to let her leave.

Well the writhing, moaning, and general noise that resulted from this young lady, you’d have thought that she was undergoing surgery without anesthetic! This resulted in her finally storming out of the room, shouting how rubbish I was and what a terrible teacher I was and that it was my responsibility to take care of her and make sure she was safe in her lessons.

This resulted in a further cattle call of names but this wasn’t too bad and it was near the end of the lesson, so after much reinforcement of the rules the class became settled and we finished the lesson.

So I walked away little battle weary but nothing that left any scars.

So now to this week, I arrive at the classroom with a new day, new attitude approach but hoping that things were going to be smoother now that I had a spent a week of re-establishing the rules. To greeted by all 16 children. This was going to be interesting.

I had to reintroduce the seating plan, at which those who were new to this moaned about not liking it, I repeated the in and out shake it all about start to the lesson, with those who were new to this struggling to be quiet, but eventually we got there. So with renewed verve, I embarked on a slightly more ambitious lesson with some group work to be completed together with some individual work. The group work needed to be completed in the  ICT suite, which is where the problems started.

The more difficult of the class decided that they weren’t going to be on task so rules were followed by me and the major culprits were parked…… well tried to be parked. What followed was number one offender swear at me and saying that I wasn’t in charge of him ( that is putting it politely) and then storming off, the second member of the group creating merry mayhem in the ICT room which when I returned was now in chaos, bearing in mind I was only outside the room.

The class refused to behave or listen to any rules, and I had now realised that my Bullet Proof vest wasn’t protecting me any more and I had been severely injured and was losing blood.

This resulted in me leaving the room, as I was either going to loose my temper or cry which was neither a good thing. So I left and then cried!

Upon reflection I should have stopped the lesson, returned to the classroom and call in the marines. But hindsight is always 20/20.

The resultant fall out from all of this heartache and tears is that the SLT have really stepped up this time, from what I can gather people were really afraid to say that they were struggling with this class, but’ ole mouth the size of the Dartford Tunnel spoke out well, cried out for help and it came in spades.

As luck would have it, Year 9 assembly was the next day and the  Head Teacher was taking the assembly and before he started he really laid the law down about the issues of the cohort to remind those not involved how easy it is to get branded or dragged down by the few.

I was seeing them period 2 of that day, so having sent out the flares via Twitter, I was armed with some new strategies and renewed vigour.

On a side note, Twitter is amazing for support, ideas, and just general tea and sympathy. Teachers like, @LGolton, @Gwenelope, @kevbartle, @OTP26woods, @hrogerson, @ljrn42, plus many that I have forgotten to mention. Who gave suggestions, and strategies to help with controlling and moving this class forward. (Apologies if I forgot someone… let me know and will add you to the list).

Back to the issue, so I signed up for ClassDojo on the recommendation of many tweachers including @ICTEvangelist and posted this on the board, the pupils were interested and once saw it in action started to question why they were getting red marks instead of green, so the visual impact of using a behavior tool like this can’t be underestimated.

While this was being displayed on the board, the Head of KS3 came in to read the riot act, closely followed by him removing one pupil….. plus he loved ClassDojo and was keen to let the Head know about it.

So on I go, thanks to @LGolton for the inspiration they were all investigating the idea of drugs to produce a leaflet for primary school kids on the problems caused by addiction. In walked Head Teacher, to give another good dressing down! The natives were getting a bit restless by this time and the constant pinging of ClassDojo was reminding them of their behavior  so in true fashion another one kicks off and out they go with Head.

To say the rest of the lesson went well, was an understatement once the troublemakers were removed all went swimmingly with lots of discussion about how they can improve their Dojo reports next lesson.

Now the positives are that more teachers have come forward to discuss issues surrounding some of these pupils and the school is now in a position of building evidence to support any action they may want to follow.

More teachers feel that they are being listened to and that actually something may get done to ensure that the learning of those who want to is not affected by this 10% of the cohort who seem hell bent on destroying their future.

Outcomes and where do we go, well I will continue on with the regime of ClassDojo, plus individualised tasks that give them some sense of achievement no matter how small, and general lion taming in between the moments of learning.

So flak jacket on and now ready for battle again.

Will I give in ‘Hell No’!

Will they win ‘Hell No’!

Will I be glad  to see them go on to year 10 and maybe to become someone else’s class from Hell …. well watch this space!