Collection of SLOP Booklets

I have started creating and using the booklets for number of reasons.

The most important reason is that I do not believe in education without books. When I was a student we never had the books because the curriculum was changing faster than the books were able to be published. We relied on writing everything we could in sharing notes. The booklets that we will handwritten would be photo- copied and shared. We didn’t have a library at the university. We had busy photocopy- shops.

I find myself teaching in the classroom without books. The only reference for any information is my power point, handout. I have been told in my observations that I should not give my students the books at the start of the lesson. I should not allow them to find the knowledge they need there. I should let them think by themselves, without the books. I don’t agree with this. Students should be taught how to use the books and show them how useful they can be in their learning.

I offer them the books and them ask questions. Most of the time the answer to those questions indicate that students have googled the answer and used words they do not understand. They actively avoid reading a short text to find the knowledge they need.

Working from the same page- being on the same page- students and teachers is something that we need figuratively and literally. Students should be able to follow the progress in the lesson by reading the written word and developing discussion. Not just copying facts down in notebooks. Those notes and facts can be easily written down for the students before the lesson, and use the lesson to develop deeper thinking rather than spend the lesson time copying information that they did not even think about.

Writing the booklets lets me think about my explanations and questioning during the lesson. It allows me to think about the sequence of lessons in one document and how they link to each other. I use it as lesson planning tool.

I also use it as reflection tool – I look back and edit the booklet to improve it. I make notes after the lesson to make it more effective.

The booklets that I have created so far can be found on this link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JJ4R3ggeqcF8-kU11oFjk2HTaaFAATwg/view?usp=sharing

These booklets are designed with the idea that students that do not have access to internet will use them. They can be improved by adding internet links for students that have internet and can use them to explain difficult concepts.

The booklets can be improved if the information is in smaller chunks, each learning outcome if followed by a sequence of questions.

I would love to know what you think.

Improving the Collins Topic- Chemical Reactions

I have using the Collins Schemes of work and material. The sequence of lessons in the Topic-Chemical Reaction is not logical and students find it difficult to understand.

The sequence is:

In year 7:

  1. Using Metal and Non-Metals
  2. Exploring the Reactions of Metals with Acids
  3. Understanding Displacement Reactions
  4. Understanding Oxidation reactions
  5. Exploring Acids
  6. Exploring Alkalis
  7. Using indicators
  8. Exploring Neutralization

In year 8:

  1. Understanding Exothermic Reactions
  2. Comparing Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions
  3. Investigating Endothermic Reactions
  4. Explaining the Use of Catalysts
  5. Exploring Combustion
  6. Exploring the Use of Fuels
  7. Understanding Thermal Decomposition
  8. Exploring Changes

Problem

The order of the topic is wrong:

From this is obvious that the idea about atom, molecule or periodic table is not covered and yet students are expected to understand what is a metal and non metal. The idea of the chemical reaction as a re-arrangement of atoms – is covered at the end of year 8.

The reactions between metals and acid is before students are taught what an acid is.

The assessment is not aligned to the lesson objectives:

In the test for year 7 students are asked to analyze a data with thermal conductivity, a concept that is not in the book. It also test the student if they understand the difference between pH and concentration. This concept is difficult to understand in year 10.

The difference between combustion and thermal decomposition is well covered in year 8, but the difference between oxidation and combustion is not explained nor tested in the test that come with this package. In the test for year 8 students are asked to calculate the enthalpy of chemical reaction and analyze reaction profiles, but that material is not in the book.

Solution

I have adapted the material in these two topics and create two booklets. Both booklets start with explanation of the difference between atom, molecule, element and compound. Both booklets start with explanation of what is the difference between chemical and physical reaction and how to write chemical formulas.

In the year 8 booklet I have included all the reaction from year 7 – for recollection. And built up on those with new sets of reaction.

I have swapped the order of the topics, explained the idea of metal, non-metal acid, alkali and indicator before learning about what happens in the reaction between metal and acid.

Further Improvement

The booklets are subject to improvement and further editing. Please do send me any suggestions you might have of how to make them more effective.

  • I am looking into breaking down the explanation section to smaller subsection and have master questions for each sub topic ( learning outcome). This is what the Collins books do very well.
  • I will insert some videos and simulations that will help students to learn certain sections.

In a meantime please find the booklets here:https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1V-x6JDP-c5r2mLQ-Gvnv6tWw2covcYuZ?usp=sharing

Sitting plans – how to make them work

Arranging sitting plans, especially at the start of the year with lack of data for the students it is daunting task. This has been exasperated by the fact that sitting plans were used as track and trace tool and could not be changed. Let me just reword that-sitting plans are not just tools for the teachers but also means for the government to contain world pandemic.

I will explain here why this has not worked – pandemic is not solved through the sitting plan – and how to use the sitting plan to build respectful culture in the classroom.

Sticking to the sitting plan- the first assumption for using sitting plans as track and trace tools is that students will walk in the classroom, sit in allocated seats and stay there for 100 min of lesson. This assumption is flawed in number of ways. Students have been mixing and talking during lunch, break and transitions between classess. We (students and teachers) did not see the logic of suddenly insisting for students not to move from their seats, not to face each other, not to do anything they have done during leasure time in order to stop the spread of the pandemic.

The riger of the sitting plan stopped students learning together and from each other. Classroom discussions and group work was stopped. Sharing ideas and showing best work was impared. The lesson was 100 minutes face the teacher ,listen and talk to the teacher, don’t move.

Sitting plans are tools for learning. As such they need to be adaptable to the lesson, student group, classrooms and teacher. Sitting plans are used for :

  • Setting up routines and expectation – first time ever all(most) teachers in the school had and followed a sitting plan. That lead to reduced arguments from the students of where to sit. I say reduced because students were trying to sit where they want to even on the last day of term 2. The routine and expectations embedded on school level allows for less disruption at the start of the lesson.
  • Containing undesired behaviour– individuals with poor behaviour need to be separated from each other. That behaviour may arouse from social time or it is the characters of the students that clash. Although I know my students with learning difficulties- not accounting for their character and time of the day in my rigid sitting plan lead to disruption of the lesson.

How I organise my sitting plan in order to build culture for learning

When I write my sitting plan for a group of students I have no data for and have not meet before I sit them down in alphabetical order.

There will be some issues where student not wanting to sit next to each other. I ask the students to write down the reasons on a paper and elaborate why? My first intervention is to talk to those students and explain that one of the main learning outcome in my lesson is to learn how to work together, sit next to each other despite the differences and respect each other. “I don’t like him” it’s not a reason for changing sitting plan. Sometimes I get notes from other colleagues and parents about changing the sitting arrangements. That is prefect opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about human interactions and human nature. I will carefully adjust the sitting plan because of :

  • Height of the student (shorter students more to the front)
  • Students character clash ( if students persistenly interrupt the lesson and issues have not been resolved after I talk to them)
  • Students eye problems ( with online learning increasing number of students suddenly discover they are short sited)
  • Students that get along extremely well as friends but fail to focus on lessons

Every change in the sitting plan will be explained with the aim of mutual respect being maintained.

This leads to creating culture for learning where the teacher has control, but not absolute authority, where students talk and are heard about their opinions and feeling, and the learning environment is tweaked to match the student need.

I find my original alphabetical plan to change ever so slightly- the consistency is still maintained.

What do you think?

I would love to hear how you are using your sitting plans. Are they effective track and trace tool or they should only be seen as teachers’ tools.

Seneca – reducing workload – learning still going on

This blog about how I used Seneca when I needed it the most. We were towards the end of term 2 and I was pass exhausted from planning, anticipating, school and government U-turns, students fears and motivation. This week we were closed and all the school was online. I was isolating because I was in close contact with positive case. I was not in a position to spend one more weekend re-planning lessons that were already planned.

I have used Seneca before, but I have not utilised it this year. It was time for me to go back to using what is avaliable.

Seneca is free and easy to set up. You send a link to students to log in. This part although simple thanks time to set up. The students that are computer savvy log in and start learning. The ones that have no experience with emails, have not had permission from parents, don’t know how to fill in form – it can take 30-40 minutes. Would it be possible for the permission from a teacher to be enough when parents are absent? I always have plan B for the few students that do not know how to overcome the obstacles at this stage.

Most students do use their real name and its easy to identify them, but there is nothing to stop them from using any other name they choose. It would be better if I can log in all my students using their school email and giving them temporary password. Their user name to be the email that i can identify them by.

Once students are logged in there is huge confusion about the difference between classroom and course. I always have at least one student working in the correct course but not in the classroom. Student is in the classroom list but he has joined the course that he/she has found in the course list so their work does not appear in the teacher platform. It might be better for courses to be re-named books.

Once in the course and the classroom I love the organisation of the courses. Small chinos of information is presented to student and then there are relevant questions. Children get frustrated when they get stuck to a particular question because they can’t progress. Can there be a hint of where they can find the correct answer?

Half of my students enjoy and live seneca, the other half don’t. Does not suit everyone’s preferences but from teacher point of view once all these obstacles are overcome and students are logged in the classroom it is easy to set assignments guiding students to revise a particular section. I would prefer if I can set the assingment and that to appear for the students that are not yet in the classroom.

I love the tracking system in seneca and let’s me know which sections students underperformed. Can there be an average for each section so I can decide what to teach and improve?

The best thing is the team behind the web site. They have a Facebook page and are extremely responsive to feedback and suggestions. I only had problem once and they resolved it in 24 hours. I had mis-spelled my email, forgot my password and could not access my account. It was my tired mind. I am grateful for the web site and even more appreciative of the team building it.

THANK YOU SENECA

Booklets – my experience

I have been creating SLOP booklets for my science lessons and trailing them with my bottom (LA) and top sets(Single Science) chemistry. They are an inspiration from the following blogs/research articles:

The idea behind this approach was to create a simple structure of my lessons that will show progression of the students from being dependent on teacher to independent practice, by the end of the lesson. One quarter of the lesson to be teacher led and give students the opportunity to practice for at least third of the lesson time. The structure was always the same so the students will build familiarity with the progression of the lesson. There was always a word search/crossword starter, followed by a text that students will read. In the reading part of the lessons students are asked to convert the text into pictures and diagrams, to show their understanding of the material, not just to copy it over. The first practice session is in groups, the second practice session is independent. For homework they can visit the links provided for Oak academy to revise the material. 
Let me start with the benefits for me as a teacher:
I was hoping this structure will allow me to switch my teaching from face to face to online, or provide material to students to work from home in an instant. This was achieved and especially with the hybrid teaching it proved invaluable. If student can follow my lesson with the same handout from home- they could. IF there were technical difficulties, they were instructed to visit the oak academy links. I also used them for my cover lessons without any additional planning. 
I was creating the lessons one at a time, with one lesson on two pages of A4. This allow me to have a look at the sequencing of my lessons in more depth and choose which information will be delivered when. The breaking down of complex idea ( for example redox reactions and electrolysis) worked exceptionally well. By the time I taught redox reactions to top set chemistry they already linked the redox reaction to electrolysis and displacement reaction.  
The fact that one lesson was based on A4 paper, the cost of it was £0.38 per class. This is much cheaper than a book for each student. At the end of the term we end up with a work document in a book format tailored to our students. I encouraged students to take the printout home- that offered them material to revise at home. Any barriers to learning such as lack of books or internet were solved. I need to work a bit longer on the cultural barrier students have, they are reluctant to take home material to revise. 
From student point of view:
They loved the starters. The word searches or crosswords were always with scientific key words, so it was easy for me to assess if they know the definition/ concepts. Students did feedback that they loved the starters in their feedback form. 
Students also loved the fact that they can work through the worksheet on their own paste. Therefore, the progressions of the lesson were easy to adapt and be specific to a student. Towards the end of the term I found that I can move at even faster paste and I needed to produce 2 A4 pages, which is about 4x45min lessons. 
Students loved the fact that they can take it home and continue with the work. But they did not like the fact that they receive one paper at a time. The comment was that that paper gets damaged/lost. But the electronic version of the booklet is available on teams. If they lose one paper, then they do not lose all their work. I need to talk to the class about organising their work into folders. Some students decided to leave their printed pages in their books for safe keeping, but that does not help me with the idea that this booklet will help students remember what they learn at school because they will take it with them at home. Some of the students, in their feedback form have commented that the positive thing about this booklet is the “Extra work for revision” and “Helped me revise” even “I needed more information and activities ” . Students have also said that one positive thing was that “They can keep it”. (The comments in “” are from students feedback form).
Another positive – “Easier to see”. Half of my class has problems seeing the white board. I usually print at least 6 copies from my power points to give to students in the back of the room. Printing a power point as a handout is anything between 3-6 pages per power point. With this booklet I purposefully limited myself to 2 pages per lesson per student. In a lesson with power point I would print up to 36 pages for 6 students in the back of my class. I a lesson with handout I would print 30 pages for 30 students to progress at their own paste.  
Students did comment on the paper being wasted. They preferred to write their answers in the booklet next to the questions, not in their notebooks. But if they do that, I will need to keep the SLOP booklet in my classroom and defeats the idea of having it as a reassures to promote student learning at home. 
As summary:Most students liked the SLOP booklet and the biggest problem they identified was about how the paper was used/lost/damaged etc. Some recognised that helps them revise and learn. Being a simple pen and paper overcomes the obstacle of equality between students. I would like to continue to develop them. I would like to include exam questions and stronger differentiation. Something like “hind questions” that will lead students to different parts of the lesson depending on how they answer the “hind question”. 
The “I do-You do- We do” structure was not as successful because in the I do section when I am explaining I need to check if students are following my lesson. The “I do” section becomes very similar to we do section because in both section we are answering questions together. In very few classes ( only 2 top set) I achieved the independent practice of students answering questions on their own. But even then, they would talk between each other to seek help ( which is part of the learning process) or use their notes to answer the questions in the “You do section” . The independent practice was not so much independent. I will have to reflect a bit more to see if I will try to develop this structure of a lesson more/ or just set it aside. 

My Garden- My classroom

Every time I work in my garden I see similarities with my classroom and teaching. In every aspect of the work, how I treat the plants is very similar to how I treat the plants. And the similarities do not stop at the flowers are like the kids.

Overall judgement

Judging a class is the same as judging a classroom. We look at the gardens in passing by and sometimes we admire them for about a minute or two. Classes are judged in 10-20 minutes windows. As we admire the garden, we think of the gardener and as we admire the class, we think about the teacher. If the garden is maintained by a team of gardeners their teamwork and expertise are judged by the way the garden looks, regardless of the time, season or location. Class with more than one teacher will reflect the effectiveness of the teamwork between the teachers and more about their abilities to synchronise and compliment their work and expertise. It does matter when, how and how long – as long as the plants in the garden are thriving. It does matter how, when interventions are placed in the class, just so they can be replicated in another setting. But each class is unique therefore replicating routines from other setting into another setting will work just as long those settings are very similar.

Meeting the needs

When setting a garden, plants are chosen to match the conditions in the garden and the style. The soil and the climate in the garden can not be changed- gardener work with the conditions they are given. Classrooms have factors that can not be changed- and teachers will have to work with that. Plants are chosen to match the conditions in the garden, knowing which plant needs what conditions. Unfortunately kids are not matched to the conditions in the classroom. They are expected to adapt. Teachers should know the children before they are placed in a classroom group, but this does not happen in practice. Gardeners know each plant, teachers do not know each child. Children change and evolve more than plants and flowers.

I have placed plants that I don’t know the name of in my garden. I have guessed if the plants need a lot or little water, shade or sun. And some plants have survived, but very few have thrived. My new approach is to learn the names of all my plants, and think about the plants I am going to get. I should use the same approach in my classroom. Step back and observe my pupils, learn who they are and how they change. Make time to talk to every child in my class.

There should be an option for the child/plant be moved to another class/garden if the conditions in the class that can not be changed do not support the child development. The expectations to make every child thrive with conditions that can not be changed is not reasonable.

Behaviour – do not IGNORE

Plants are like children. They will not tell you they will show you. Look out for the small signs of distress. For the flowers might the the change of colour on the leaves, and for the child is the change of behaviour. It needs to be established that his change is natural , for the plants is the change of the seasons and for the children is puberty or it is due to other circumstances. Respond to every silent word that has not been said.

There are plants that will over-run the garden for example mint and ivy. there are children in the class that will overrun the group- loud attention demanding behaviour. For the plants they are set in a way that their spread is controlled and daily weeding. For the children should be daily recognition of positive behaviour and placed in environment that suits their needs.

The so called weeds- the flowers that thrive in my garden without my help just like dandelions, nettles and ivy bring wonderful benefits to the ecosystem in the garden. The fact that they are not where I want them to be should not be the guiding factor for me to destroy them. It is the same with children that have uncontrollable behaviour and tendencies to damage and destroy. They will have purpose and benefits for others.

There are plants that are slow to grow or are hidden, small and shy. I have those students in my class, that are like small woodland flowers. They should be looked often, checked and encouraged.

The main thing is not to ignore the child behaviour – recognise it for what it is. Successful gardens require watering sometimes twice a day in hot moths, sometimes not at all, in rainy seasons. But as gardener will assess when to water the teacher should assess when to implement an intervention.

Create areas

Successful gardener will know the shaded areas of their garden and place plants that require shade there. They will know the sunny areas of the garden and place other plants there.

The classroom should have areas to facilitate different needs for students. I’ve always had a single table on the side- for the student that does not fell like sitting next to someone else. I have had the area for the ones that I need to check on more frequently and area for the ones that most of the time can complete their work independently.

This is more than just ability – this is about how comfortable is for the students to sit next to each other. Sitting next to a friend is more better than sitting next to a person you feel uncomfortable with.

Although there are areas in the classroom I always listen to my students. They can talk to me about where they want to sit and why. I don’t change the sitting plan without a good reason. Only one class I had to rewrite the sitting plan twice. I find children are more happier to walk in the class where they know they will be in a area of the class they feel like they belong to.

As summary – how I treat my plants is the same as how I treat my children. Get to know them as best as you can, match their needs and listen to their behaviour. There is no quick fix in the garden nor the classroom. Routine and repetitiveness build them both over time.

Organising myself

Keeping on top of things is a struggle. Long to do list when time is commodity are difficult to manage. How to remember to do everything? I use Google calendar and good old pen and paper.

The pen and paper to do list and the electronic one come with benefits and drawbacks. Using them simultaneously for different purposes they compliment each other. The paper version is a list for the current day. The Google calendar is for remembering events or to do task for long time.

Paper to do list

I use it to make a list of what needs to be done today. Most of the time is in a notebook, dedicated to my to do list but if I don’t have one is on a piece of paper. And this is a copy of my Google calendar day.

I can’t use my phone at school and I am not always next to a computer. But I always have my notebook with me.

I use it to outline the order of things I am going to do. During the day I tick off what is done and add new tasks. It is great to see things being ticked off especially on days when I have done a lot of small mundane things and it feels like I have not achieved anything. By contrast – once a task is ticked as completed on Google calendar it disappears. On a very productive day when all tasks are acomplished – my day in the calendar looks blank.

I find paper to do list focuses my mental energy on the task. There are no distractions just me and my to do list. By contrast if my to do list is on the screen I will review it but also check email and/or Facebook and/or Twitter.

Google calendar

At the end of the day all the new added to do things from my paper planner are transfered in my Google calendar. I usually put them as reminders because the reminders that are not completed today are automatically transfered to the following day. I don’t have to remember to copy them over.

I also use the Google calendar to order the sequence of events in the day. Between events that need to happen at a specific time and reminders that are things that can be completed when possible.

I love the ability of Google calendar to attach files to the events. I upload my material on Google drive and attach the material I need for a lesson to the event for that lesson. Everything is there on a click of a button.

I did create two accounts in Google – personal and another one for work. Both calendars show on my phone and I can balance the events for home with the ones from home – and they are in two different colors.

I colour code my lessons in Google calendar – prepared and to be prepared. I keep the calendar for the following year when I can reuse the material and the teaching sequence.

As a summary – the paper planner helps me focus on today and now. The Google calendar is for remembering things for long term, reminders that need to be done and events that happened last year.

Simple structure for online lessons

With majority of teaching being online I found a simple effective way for delivering the lessons and checking for understanding.

My school was using teams and as platform is good enough. I communicated with my students through power point presentations and video recordings of my physical white board with voice over. Student only way of communication with me was either verbal or written, not necessarily both. Some students were able only to talk to me, some were able to one use the chat room and others were able to do both. I used targeted questions but I missed the oportunity for all class assessment.

The inconsistency in the way of communication brough feelings of fustration. Students that were unable to verbaly communicate took extra long time typing their answers. Students that were able to verbaly communicate were shouting their answers before any other student.

The oportunity to use https://whiteboard.fi/ and https://quizizz.com offered the ability of all explanations supported with dual coding, all class assessment, and class analysis of short term retention of knowledge for that lesson.

Dual coding explanation

It takes ten seconds to create a class on https://whiteboard.fi. I would have displayed the starter on the teacher whiteboard on the Web site. Students will join the lessons through teams and I would talk to them through teams. My talk /explanation were drawn on the white board.

All class assessment

At appropriate times of the lesson I would ask my students to either draw or write on their white boards on https://whiteboard.fi. I can see everyone’s white board on the web site and give them instant feedback or set extension work if they finish early.

Modeling

Students can’t see their peers white boards but if appropriate I can share my screen through Teams to show case a work of any particular student. This offered wonderful oportunity for showcasing best work.

Statistical analysis

As a plenary to my lesson I would set up a quick quizz on https://quizizz.com. There are plenty ready made quizezz and it is easy to edit then or even create a new quizz. Students have set time to answer a particular question but they are doing it at their own time. The web sites gives a very useful statistical analysis of the student performance. I make a not of the questions that few or no students answered correctly and I re-teach those aspects again.

Teams, quizz and whiteboard made my online lessons more interactive offering me the ability to monitor student work online and adjust the progress of the lesson accordingly.

Creating Chemistry AQA Curriculum 3

This is a continuation from Creating the Chemistry AQA curriculum and Creating the Chemistry AQA curriculum 2.

I have broken down the curriculum to 20 themes and re-arranged them in 5 year learning journey. It was time to choose what was the most important thing students should learn/take away from each theme.

Creating knowledge bank required curriculum to be broken down even further to subtopics. I would love to have a practical in each subtopic, but that will have to be added at later stage. The knowledge banks with collection of core questions can be found here:

The core questions are better formatted in this excel sheet with clear reference to the theme and code relating back to the curriculum.

My next step is to create formative and summative assessment for each of the themes. Also organise the core questions into a separate retrieval roulette excel sheets. Each theme will have a small bank of questions for retrieval roulette in order to make sure the questions relate to the topic covered.

How to prepare for you NQT year

The summer holiday is time for a rest or preparation for September. We, as teachers, are always lured into the abyss of preparation and planning. New teachers constantly ask how to prepare for the training year. The need to organise everything and solve all the possible problems is present but impossible to fulfil. Preparation for new teachers is like an abyss, bottomless void because it is never ending. What can you do to over the summer before starting you NQT year?

I have had my NQT year. Looking back I would have done couple of things differently.

To read

There are plenty of books and blogs to read. Don’t get them all. Choose one (if you have to) and take time to digest it. Or don’t choose any.

Teaching and the training is hand on activity and can not be mastered while reading a book. The knowledge in the books if not implemented in practice is lost and forgotten. The first aim should be getting to know the school your work in. You have to be the master of the teaching sequence and the specification that the school is using. Every other printed material is to support that.

If you have to read anything get to know your specification you are teaching and the policies for the school you are working in.

I bought number of books to read based on recommendations from my training provider or colleagues, but used none. Some were not applicable in the setting I was in. Others were describing principles I did not fully understand. Short online articles, discussions with teachers ( online or in person) offered more insight and help for my practice.

Read the specification

The Specification is available online. Use the original document and get to know it as a bible. It will help you guide your students from what they know to what they need to know. It will help you decide better if the power points slides, books, materials ets. are compatible or in line with the specification. There is nothing wrong about teaching outside the specification. as long as you have a good reason for it. Ultimately your students will sit exams based on that specification and they rely on you, as their teacher, to prepare them. You need to know the way to lead them through the forest of available resources and point them to the best.

At the start I was not sure what the difference was between combined an single science. I followed a book but the book changed when I changed school. The book we used change again when the Head of Department decided to change it. The sequence of teaching and the names of the lessons changed 3 time in my 3 years of teaching. I had time review the specification at the end of my second year of teaching. I regret for not doing it at the start. It would have allowed me to organise my materials in better way and scrutinise the resources I had more effectively. Changing of books would not have been so daunting and most of my resource could have been reused.

Read the behaviour policy

Become an expert in the policy because student will challenge you. You will need to align your behaviour strategies and expectations with the behaviour policy. Students will challenge you and having firm knowledge of how you can follow up the positive and the negative behaviour will help you in a long way.

I had training during the inset day in my school about the behaviour policy, but it was challenging to remember it in one day. I wish I had more time to make notes and remember it. I needed to refer to behaviour policy the most, and students knew it better than I did on the first week in my school.

A great school all teachers consistently are following the behaviour policy. I was not lucky to be a part of that type of school. Teachers changed often through the year and we had number of new teachers each term. Lack of time to learn the policy led to challenging behaviour being left unchallenged.

Plan for routine transitions

Have a clear plan/routine for the transitions during the lessons and insist on them. Read a book, article or think about what you have observed and how you would like the students to enter your class and leave your classroom. It will be hard to do this without knowing the expectations from the department and the school. Talk to your colleagues about how do they do it and decide on your own practice. Ideally the routines should be the same across the department and school, but teachers tend to do things in various ways.

Think about :

  • How are the students going to enter the classroom?
  • Where are you going to stand as students are entering?
  • How are students going to pick up their notebooks?
  • How are you going to distribute equipment mid lesson?
  • How and when are students going to return equipment?
  • How are you going to ask students to start or stop writing; start or stop listening to you?
  • How are students going to answer questions? Are you going to use “no hands up”?
  • How are students going to be dismissed ?
  • How are late students going to enter your classroom?

Through your NQT year these routines will develop and mature. But you will need to start with an idea. Students will have to be told explicitly what you expect them to do.

I started my first lesson with some ideas of what I will expect from the children. In my second year of teaching I knew how I am going to impose that. My biggest mistake in my NQT year was changing my routines often , at least once in a term. I would change my sitting plans even more often. Bringing in new reward systems and complicating the routines unnecessarily. Keep them simple and consistent. Students would love to walk in your classroom if they know what to do as they come in, know where to sit and know what is expected from them. They are more likely to follow your instructions if those are the same set of instructions in each lesson.

Book in time for for yourself and your family

Start with protecting your free time and your family time. The workload and the training will demand every second of your day. Do not let yourself being consumes with planning, writing, marking, teaching, learning.

I did get to the mental break down during my NQT year. To the point of not being able to hold back my tears, crying for no obvious lesson, drinking energy drinks to keep me up during the night, not having quality time together with my family. Simple things helped me manage my time, my emotions and my life in general. Setting boundaries. For me- I was staying at school till 5 pm each day. Between 5pm-8pm I was with my family. From 8pm -10pm I will do a bit work. from 10pm till I fall asleep I would be with my husband. During weekend I will spend 4 hours preparing lessons. I will stop working when the working time expired, whether I have completed or not. I would prioritise what needs to be completed first. and start with that. The to-do list will never be completed and the work will always be there.

Take ownership of your own development

Mentors are great companions in the development. I have had 3 wonderful mentors that I have become friend with. But this training is yours. You will need to learn through reflection and be able to self- assess. Find your strong points and work on improving your weak points. As NQT you are building your own career.

As NQT my mentors were relying on my plan for the future in order to give me advise and guidance. If my mentor were unable to observe me, I would ask colleagues that were available. Choosing to go to training sessions or not would be the stepping stones of your own professional career. It has to be your decision.