Friday, 30 January 2015

Year 9 English to Y10 English

So last year my Year 9 class was a bit of a mission. There were so many individual needs and so many issues to work through before we could tackle any credible work.

We did nail a few things: poetry, static images, language techniques and parts of speech, analysis of film...

But we didn't get too close to beginning or completing a proper novel study.

The focus last year I suppose was to instill positive behaviour for their learning. So much effort was put into recognising good learning behaviours particularly in the first few terms.

It all became a bit unhinged come the exams and having to move rooms and becoming stressed out as the seniors left. I felt horrible for my Y9s as my focus went to the seniors and Y10s in prep for Y11 but I still think we managed to get a good foundation of knowledge and skills sorted for their coming year.

Now this year I have a core group of previous Year 9 students in my Y10 English class. It was a surprise yesterday as I hadn't properly digested who was in my class when I originally saw the class lists. Hugs and smiles and hope.

Hope that this year wasn't going to be ruined by immature behaviour and long drawn out wait time as silly boys mucked around. Hope that this year there would be no bullying of one particular student. Hope that my talk to another particular student before he came in would stop it- once and for all. The realisation that his bullying of that student may stem from his religious beliefs and how I can somehow use those to enable him to "see the light" so to speak...

And of course there are a bunch of new students too! They're all expecting an awesome year with me and because Y10 is my favourite level to teach English to - I will work even harder to do the absolute best job.

Yet the first thing I did when the old boys came in was tell them off. As if we had just continued from last year. Yeah there were a couple students who I pushed a bit further and suggested that their behaviour at the end of the year was what I was looking for - not at the beginning of the year.

When the new students and my old girls came in I was still in the process of getting the boys to settle after lunch on the first day back and so we did what we could.

And the class was still a mess because we didn't get the new bookcases after school the day before due to the rain. And there were still heaps of posters to put up and a tonne to either put back in the backroom or chuck. And there were still a few unneeded desks stacked up taking up space.

So all in all - I got them to reflect on last year. What they enjoyed about English, what they struggled with, what they need help with and more importantly what they didn't enjoy last year. I was hoping the kids would reflect on how much learning we didn't actually do and how much we didn't learn because of the consistent behavioural issues.

I have yet to read each student's reflections which I'm hoping to do today.

What I normally do when I start a Year10 class off is intoduction letters which is what I base our whakawhanaungatanga off of. However I read last year that intro letters are all well and good but what do they actually tell you about the learner? So this year I took this way and focussed on figuring out who they are and learn about what makes them tick as the term progresses. Perhaps creating solid relationships will happen more naturally this way too.

I just felt a bit awful which is why I woke up so early and couldn't get back to sleep. Needed to get this out of my brain haha.

More importantly, I need to strategise and I need to think about what it is that I want for my students this year.

I need to get them ready for Y11. And that's quite a significant jump for these kids so we will work steadily, focussed and work together to get to the goal.

The first thing that needs to happen is for the boys to be split up. The second is for the books to be put away in the bookshelves. The third is a solid plan for this year and it's beginning to take shape in my head.

Seeing as the majority of my students are pretty pro at poetry analysis now we might start off with that to get the old skills back and also impress themselves and their new classmates with their knowledge. I've found that there is a significant difference in the content knowledge each student has when they walk into a new class.

Working on my student's strengths to begin with will enable them to feel successful and also to push the new students too.

I'd really like to stop saying old students and new students because the entire class are my students. But the fact of the matter is that I have a strong relationship with my old kids and I know how to get them working. Whereas the new kids, I've just met.

But I look forward to the challenge and hope that this coming week will not only set some boundaries but will ensure that my students all feel safe and welcome and have the ability to learn at their own pace.

I'm also hoping that a couple of students are moved in and out of the class because their levels are too low or too high for the class and I'd like for any class dynamics to change quickly so that I can just start teaching properly.

Of course, this may not happen too soon so I will carry on and hope that we'll have a good year!! :) Need to push them and get through everything we need to so that we can ensure everyone is successful.

Goals:
Increase each students' reading level by two levels
Increase each student's grade level
Ensure that each student is on the right learning path and is pushing themselves
Enable each student to feel successful
Develop critical thinking skills
Complete and enjoy a novel study
Delve deep with film analysis
Focus on success criteria and co-construct the learning
Individualise the learning by ensuring each student is known and is helped one on one when needed
Initiate gamified learning to further give incentives to students to push themselves with their learning
Generate consistent and developing data and use to show learning journeys
Enable students to have a growth mindset
Develop a strong awareness of interpersonal relationships and the need for a open mind

For now - I'll leave it there. :)