Wednesday, 18 December 2013


It's another random blogging post. Not even a beer review, let alone part of the epic story for the Boy that this blog is supposed to be about! Oh well. It's also fairly boring, I can't claim anything of interest to the passing visitor.

So, as usual, would you like to know more?

I was threatening a fairly long blog post but I am tired and generally without words. Marking and the end of the year have combined to rob me of creativity at the moment and so all I have is the statements of fact. Sorry, ythis will be even less entertaining than I thought it was going to be and you don't want to know how bad I thought this would be already.

I shall cut to the chase. I invited a senior manager in to look at my lessons. See, where I am, they decided that they don't need to observe my lessons because I have so much experience and because of my interview lesson. Combine the two and I was slated only to be observed once for PM, which is bizarre given my recent experiences and the way teaching is going but not entirely unwelcome. Ever alert for the chance to cause maximum stress to myself, I of course went a stage further and made sure that I would be seen.

Now, given how well some of my stuff is received by the powers that be I sent a long list of preferred lessons to be seen in. After a date was set that whole list flew out of the window, of course, because of things that I hadn't seen coming interrupting the flow of lessons. In the event, I was left with a fairly pedestrian adaptation of a lesson-style that I stole from a former colleague. Capture sheets, sources and some dingbats (the latter my 'innovation' to the original lesson style that got students out of their seats and moving around) that the students would produce. It wasn't all that pretty. Certainly wouldn't have won any awards in my previous stomping ground.

Ex-colleagues, if you're reading this, know that the lesson is the kind of one that we would be doing every day and when under stress. We wouldn't use this for an SLT learning walk most of the time, hardly the sort of thing that one would risk. I mean, I had a cards up plenary, some class discussion, but progress was harder to prove (mind you, I made sure my data showed it properly and in colour-coding, even managed to camouflage the lack of marking in books with the lesson planning sheet). You'll be glad to know that I had my three groups (but kept my all, most and some on lesson objectives shared with the students) and avoided a robotic 'What, how and why'. Mainly by employing our old trick of a clear enquiry question, quick task instructions and the way of the Old Department. If I said "Germ Theory Discovery Lesson" you might even know where to find it. Yeah, it's not great.

Still, it was a damn' sight better than the alternatives on Penicillin (the cut'n'stick flowchart lesson) or Jenner (the opposition lesson with the lolcat). However, it remained a pedestrian lesson with little to set it apart from our old day-to-day lessons that got us through the day without massive replanning.

Imagine my surprise when the manager arrived and I found myself re-doing that tired staple of loving Pasteur and loving Koch (yes, I still have that habit, though I tend to cast myself in the Germanophile [Deutschophile?] role). As usual I ended up pushing the kind of boundaries that one ought not to push. The long section when students work independently went as you would expect - I never know what to say or do with them and there was the general hubbub and off-topic chat that you can't possibly get to in time. Also, the books were being checked and I knew that I hadn't had time to mark them up to date. Imagine my sinking feeling of panic when I checked myself and realised that the manager had chosen the student who had been away when I last marked and so hadn't been checked since we'd done the Romans and the student whose notes were, to say the least, sparse. Of course. Anyway, I blew through it with more Koch jokes and some general stupidity with dingbats.

This was all dutifully and carefully written up and the manager even joined in the cards up plenary - full marks for effort but worryingly poor on the comprehension (I wonder, would that play well in the Towers or would that mean a lower grade? I suspect the latter from non-experts). I should point out that my observer was not remotely connected to the subject either.

Apparently this abortion of a pedestrian lesson with flawed execution and poor marking was Outstanding. Grade 1 Ofsted. I was a little bit speechless. Espevcially given my verbal feedback of creating a 'buzz' in Sixth Form so effectively that word had reached this manager about it and the fact that my reputation among younger students was such that independent comments had reached this manager a number of times from students that I didn't even teach! Of course, I had a beer to celebrate on that night and this is part of the reason that this record of the event is several days late!

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