A *Buzz*: Three Weeks In?

When I started this blog back in the summer holidays, I was buzzing! I was excited to start the role I had been appointed to: Lead Practitioner in English; I was excited to be organising Summer School; I was excited about the classes I had taken through, and met at the Roll Over and it was the holidays: I was excited about all the time I had to plan and research and do displays. It’s safe to say that in July I was excited and buzzing about teaching! But can I say the same three weeks into a new term?

Maybe humming is a more accurate description for how I am feeling right now. I feel slightly overwhelmed by having a full timetable with my new role; I want to do things for my new role that I don’t have time to do (it’s soon to be sorted not a union issue!) I am eager and full of ideas but can’t fit it all in. I feel a little overwhelmed that, in trying to be more organised and effective in my marking and feedback, I have lost the last three Sundays: spending on average 5 hours to mark a set of assessments or books. I feel overwhelmed and slightly inadequate to all the wonderful ideas and people I am following on Twitter. I feel unable to organise the sea of ideas I have in my head for lessons, displays, things I want to introduce/embed with my earners to make them learn deeper. I want to alter/update/redo and improve displays and I have a catalogue of images on my phone of things I capture from what I see on places like Twitter and Facebook,so I can remember them all because right now I can’t keep everything at the forefront of my mind! And most irritatingly I feel a big sense of frustration that I have things started and unfinished, I have things I haven’t started or I have things ‘finished’ that aren’t perfect.

Is it safe to say that teachers are too hard on themselves? I have certainly been accused of this. In striving to always better ourselves we put more pressure on ourselves to beat what we’re currently doing. But in doing that are we actually getting any better?

My personal target for this term was to be more effective in my marking and feedback. I already knew I gave detailed feedback but I wanted to give it more frequently and I wanted it to better inform my planning so it fed into my teaching more comfortably.
By choosing this target and having worked hard at it over the past three weeks, I have realised a few things:
1. I am marking more often and it’s taking me longer (which isn’t a bad thing because I think I needed to mark more than I did last year) but it is taking up more of my home time so I need to find a more effective routine and develop a more effective system for my marking.
2. The value of using marking to plan more effectively. Today for instance I have marked year 9 assessments on analysing film posters and have planned the lesson for tomorrow based on my findings and based on what the pupils need in order to improve in that specific reading skill. They all have clear targets, we will look at WAGOLL and they will improve theirs and work on new analyses of a new subject but still applying their skills in an improved way.
3. How wonderful Twitter has been for being inspired and motivated by people. I have been able to use Twitter to help me start to achieve my target: I have been following @teachertoolkit and @leadinglearner and have not only used their 5 Minute tools but have adapted them to suit my school and practice so that I have clear and effective records of how my marking is informing my planning, teaching and learning.

All in all, by setting this target I am improving in more than just one area. It has allowed me to introduce and develop DIRT to my classes. So far they love ‘playing with dirt’ and they get it because my marking is better and clearer and they have specific time dedicated to improving within a topic rather than at the end of it when it holds no relevance. Therefore my feedback-lessons are more meaningful

I am sharing my experience of the 5 Minute marking and planning sheets with staff and thus I am able to start establishing myself within my Lead Practitioner role despite the lack of physical time on my timetable to coach/ mentor yet; so far staff including the Head have thanked me for sharing the resources which is great. And my displays have got a lot better and have been commented upon by SLT; I have started to adapt all of them so they are meaningful and useful: a big task but one I am enjoying it’s just so time consuming.

So I think what I am trying to share in this post is that my buzz and excitement has waned slightly since the summer but it’s because I am trying so hard, as most if us do, to be better and do right by the kids. I am juggling a couple of things that are not all running smoothly just yet but that I am ‘getting there’ with and I think the biggest thing I have learned so far this term is to be more patient… Perseverance and patience is going to mean I produce quality lessons and feedback that will help my pupils learn better and then allow me to share better practice and therefore ‘lead’ better. I just have to wait for it to develop a bit first!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people that have so far shared resources and inspiration and motivation with me in Twitter… It really has kept me motivated and inspired and I hope that when I feel less overwhelmed and more settled that I can share more of my ideas and good practice and help to inspire or motivate some of you too. Here’s to the next four weeks until half term and let’s see how we are all getting on with our juggling acts then! Hopefully if we are not *buzzing* we are still humming gently!

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