My Learning from the Classroom

Time efficient strategies within the lesson

Things that take up time which takes away from teaching time: writing “no homework” notes in the journals when more than three have forgotten to complete their homework. Solution: order a “no homework” stamper so I can breeze around the room and stamp it in journals without breaking concentration or wasting class time!

Time efficient strategies long term

At the start of the year I had students do notes and homework in one copy and tests in another copy. This was impractical because (1) I had to remember to bring the box of copies if I wanted to give a test (2) I had to bring the box of copies home to correct and back again (3) if I asked them to bring the test copies home to show parents, when I gathered them all back again often several students would have lost them in the meantime.

Next year all my topic tests and end of term tests will be on photocopied sheets. I will have a folder where I record test results, which parents have signed test results, retests due, etc. If a test is especially bad or especially good and parents need to see it, I will post it home through the office with a note/school postcard/merit.

Consistency-helping strategies long term

They key to consistency is keeping it simple. What are the most important factors in an Irish classroom?

Homework (practice)

Homework that is routinely given, followed up on without fail, corrected with some feedback, and consequences given if neglected. I think the most efficient consequence for my students is requiring them to stay in at lunch or break to complete the missing homework and if they fail to show up I refer them to a formal detention. I found that students like to have me sit there and explain things and they will often stay longer than necessary because they like the attention.

Tests (assessment)

Tests after every topic. It is taking me a while to understand the practical balance between when formative assessment needs to pause and summative assessment is allowed to come in to empirically measure the progress. I am finding that at the most basic level, formative assessment can take the form of in-class questioning, checking homework and informal quizzes in desk pairs. Summative assessment has to take place at the end of a topic in the form of a traditional class test which gets graded. I have a mild fear of labelling students with grades because of a study I heard about in teaching college but I am overcoming this with the realisation that if I don’t have data or evidence about their success at learning, then I won’t always notice who needs help and when they are improving.

  • If students fail a test, they need to stay in at lunch and complete it again. Depending on the student, I will have them complete it with me helping, complete it as an open book assignment, or if they have revised independently, complete it as a retest.
  • In preparation for next year, I will make a sample class folder with tests (starting from back) with a pocket per topic including test, MS, test record sheet, pocket also for photocopies of each test, at back test record master sheet…

Consistency-helping strategies within the lesson

If a student comes in late they have to wait at the back of the room until given permission to go to their seat, they must leave their journal at my desk. I use “late for class” stamper in their journals and record in my lesson plan journal.

Set alarm five to eight minutes before the end of every lesson throughout day’s timetable. (Use tablet or iPad if possible rather than phone). When this alarm goes off I need to focus on:

Teacher tasks Student tasks
Assign and record homework

Record attendance

Record lesson work accomplished and still to do

Record behaviour

Consequences in journal

Discipline discussions with individual students

Homework written into journals

Review of learning:

o   Write out three main points learned today

o   Write out three Qs to assess today’s learning

o   Write out how you would explain today’s learning to your little brother

The when the school bell rings my students and I are ready to go to the next class, neither my students or I are kept back writing notes in journals, I won’t have to write up attendance retrospectively, I don’t have to ask the students “what did I give you for homework?!!” And no student can say they didn’t have a chance to write the homework in their journals!!!


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