When we return after half term my year 11 classes will be sitting their final written controlled assessment. I cannot wait to see the back of it! I'm celebrating the end of paragraphs that are drafted and redrafted and redrafted once more, learned off by heart and regurgitated onto the paper when it's time to sit the assessment. Controlled assessment has been a game, and a memory game at that. It's not really been about who can use the target language, but about who can cram in all the good features using all their resources, get it marked, learn it off by heart and then write it all back down again without even having to understand what they're writing.
Recently I've realised that the line between work and life is blurring more and more. I read a blog earlier (and I'm sorry, I can't remember who by) that said that it's not work and life that we are balancing, but work and home. I think that's very true. My work is a big part of my life, and is becoming increasingly more of a part of my spare time too. This isn't some sob story about the amount of work I bring home though, in fact I'm actually quite pleased with the 'balance' I have established there.
As I have previously blogged, I am currently trying new things. One of the things that I have changed the most is my approach to teaching year 7. At my school we are lucky enough that students get 6 hours a fortnight on their first language in year 7, so it's a great opportunity for us to really build some solid foundations for language learning straight away.
When membership opened for the Chartered College of Teaching this week I was quick to get myself signed up. Lacking in blog inspiration this afternoon following a heap of year 8 books that were a little depressing and took far too long (despite giving fairly efficient feedback I thought...) I thought I'd quickly blog on my reasons for joining.
This week I was struggling for a post for my #weeklyblogchallenge17. Not knowing what to write I turned to twitter, and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I quickly ended up in a discussion with someone about the importance of MFL at GCSE level. I hope I don't misrepresent their beliefs by saying that they were of the opinion that if you weren't going to take a languages degree then A level languages were not worth it, and therefore MFL GCSE was also unnecessary for those who weren't going to take A level. Thus rendering MFL GCSE pretty pointless it would seem
The following blog intends to combat some of the arguments I faced during this discussion, and to raise as many reasons as I can to justify my belief that the majority of students have something to gain from studying a language at GCSE. I would be really interested to hear other points of view in the comments or via twitter. You can find me on the right hand side of this page, or here @BexN91
Last weekend I was at my parents house and had a look through a bag of school stuff I had left round there to see if there was anything in it I wanted to take. This bag reminded me quite how much my teaching has changed in a relatively short time, and made me think about the sorts of things that I used to do, that I don't any more. When I went back to work on Thursday I took some photos of the other things in my 'box of tricks' that I used to use and no longer do. In this post I intend to look at these things, think about what I used to use them for, why, and if they are best suited to the bin or using them again.
This year for me feels like the time to start to change my approach a little. As I've mentioned before, I now feel free from the previous presures of training, NQT and Masters and I've also been at my school for a year. Over the last term I've been reading more blogs, paying more attention to things and really reconsidering the way I approach things. I think it all started at ResearchEd back in September, when I wrote this post. Now I feel that I am able to focus on my teching in a different way, I have created a reminder list for myself when planning, something to remind me of what I could be including in my lessons and to help me stick to the basics I guess. These are the kind of things that I hope will just become natural parts of my planning in the future, and some of them already are. I think my ideas are really beginning to change, and what I used to think made a good lesson with lots of bells and whilstles and gimmics no longer is. I don't know if this is due to the type of school I now work in, but I hope not. I'm sure my ideas are going to continue to change over the next year and I look forward to it!
So, what have I included and where has it come from?
Seeing as it's New Year's Eve tomorrow, it seems about time to get on with my #teacher5aday pledge for 2017. I've already blogged my reflection on my 2016 pledge, so here goes:
Now I've been in my school for a year, I have settled into some routines, not all of which are positive. One thing I think I should do this year is to try and visit the staff room more often and get to know more people. I don't think I've done an awful job so far but I could do better.
I also intend to get to know more of the people who I follow, and who follow me, on twitter. Now the masters is done I think I'll be able to network a bit more than I have been up until now.
I find this one the hardest, setting targets of posting a positive tweet or taking a picture every day often fade away quickly. I think the best I can do is say that I will try and notice more of the positives and share them, not just on twitter but at home too.I think maybe I'll read some other pledges for better inspiration here.
I have signed up with Age UK to make a weekly call to an elderly person who would benefit from having someone to chat to. It sounds like a great programme and I'm looking forward to being involved. I didn't think I could commit to visiting someone weekly, but figured that I can always find 30 minutes for a phone call.
Ah, so the gym didn't go that well this year. Surprise, surprise! We have cancelled the membership we had in favour of doing things at home. This will probably have to wait until we move house in the new year. I got some exercise kit for Christmas including a mat and some weights so I'm ready to go! I may even join my parents for the Park Run every now and again as I quite enjoyed the Santa fun run I did this month.
Now I've finished the masters I can get on with something else! I'm using Duolingo to learn a bit of Italian before I go on the school music tour in the summer.
I also intend to read and write more this year. I spend far too much time needlessly flicking through my social media feeds or watching something I'm not actually interested in or have watched a million times before. I plan to bring this to an end and use this time to read, I have a stack of books already and a wish list on amazon that is growing. With all this reading comes some reflection, I am going to take part in #weeklyblogchallenge17. I think I'll find this tough, but hopefully I'll see some improvement in my writing by the end of it.
Investigating the relationship between the extended curriculum and student motivation to study Modern Foreign Languages.
A summary of my MA Education dissertation.
I posted the other day that my copy of my dissertation had arrived and a number of people expressed an interest in reading it. I've shared it with a couple of people, but I'm holding off of putting it online until I have the MA certificate in my hands and it's all 100% confirmed, as I'm sure you can understand. What I have decided to do is summarise the dissertation here along with my key conclusions in the hope that it may be of use to some. Please do let me know if you read this post and if anything is useful for you.
Please be aware that I know that this research is not perfect, I know that it is not the best written, and I understand that it is flawed. I am not presenting this as a perfect example, or something that I am expecting others to follow. This is only being posted following requests from those that may be interested in it for their own use.
All references will be made available when I upload the full document in early 2017.
In 2016 I wrote this post on my pledges for 2016. Initially I thought I'd not really made much progress with them, but I've done some of the things I pledged.
#connect - I said I wanted to get to know people better at my new school. I've got to know my department well, and I go up to the staff room one breaktime a week. I think in the new year I should make a bit more of an effort with this, but it's a start.
#exercise - I started well with this one, I joined the gym when I moved into my flat. That's failed of late though and I've cancelled the membership. We are due to move in the new year and I have some plans for when that happens.
#notice - Ok, so this one I failed on. I was going to tweet positive things on a daily basis. I can't actually remember the last time I did this...
#learn - My learning pledge was related to my MA which I have now completed, thank goodness!
#volunteer - I've organised somethings in my department like I said I would, but now I'm second in department I don't think this counts as volunteerig anymore. Plus, I have been playing in the school jazz band but that is as much for myself as for the students so that doesn't count either. New ideas coming for 2017 though.