NOTE: This blog is a story/reflection of my year, if you would like an academic, interesting or engaging blog about education stop reading now!
As we approach the end of another academic year I feel drawn to reflect. It has been quite a big year for The Cartwright’s, after such a strong start there has been a noticeable lack of blog entries due to the arrival of Tiny JC…
Parenting and teaching – both plates have been kept spinning brilliantly, mainly thanks to Mrs C (!!!), yet other plates have had considerable wobbles since the arrival of Jack, predominantly the ‘social life plate’! My frustration could not have been higher than on one beautiful Saturday afternoon when we went to Jack’s godfathers for a BBQ and Jack started losing his cool just before the food was about to be served… thankfully it took us so long to get him into the car seat and out to the car my friend came running out of the garden with ‘takeaway burgers’ for us. For more about spinning plates have a read of my Who Looks After The Teachers? blog.
So, Year 3… I was at the end of my first year at my new school, Year 5 had gone well, I was enjoying myself – all plates spinning soundly! The opportunity for a swap came up, Mrs C was pregnant, why not throw in an extra challenge to make things interesting…
The ‘Egg’ Analogy
I first heard this analogy at a subject leader course at The Sanctuary in Upper Mill in Oldham. As a rugby fan I usually don’t pay any attention to other rugby fans of a Welsh heritage however something stuck with me from Huw’s SL course.
Think of an egg frying in a pan… you’ve the soft yellow yolk in the centre of the pan, the white surrounding it (undoubtably bits of shell in there if it’s Mrs Cartwright cooking), the edge of the white that is starting to crisp slightly due to the heat and then you’ve got the metal frying pan… blistering oil sizzling and spitting.
It was explained to me that I should place myself in the egg – weird I know, stay with me(!!). consider your professional development and career path, the yolk is your safe place but at the same time you will never stretch yourself and you will be comfy and may eventually become congealed. The scorching metal pan is danger, not a place you should go lightly as you could get burnt and hurt, this can represent burn out, poor practice or unnecessary risk.
“The white is where you want to be!”
In the white of the egg you can drift between your safe place (yolk) and high risk (frying pan) depending on what else is going on. Occasionally being out there and drifting all the way upto the brown crispy part on the extremities of the white but then coming back to the safer regions closer to the yolk to consolidate and review before revisiting.
Accepting the challenge of Y3 was my way of moving back towards the frying pan, little did I realise that the first two – three weeks of the autumn term it would feel like I was constantly dancing in the frying pan!!
Transitioning the infants to juniors at my school means the children have adapt to a number of things; to a more complex timetable; less breaks in the day; a totally different lunchtime routine; a wider range of extra curricular activities; a much heavier homework load; and an all round leap in independence.
All was going swimmingly, although very repetitive, I was adjusting quite well and the children were settling into Junior life. I was thankful that I had a great TA with considerable experience in Y3 and a brilliant partner teacher. Then came the twist in the tale – maternity and divorce – all at once. At October half term my brilliant partner teacher would be going on maternity leave for the rest of the year… “No problem,” I thought, “Our TA is brilliant, she’ll see me through!”
No… then the divorce (quite amicable I must add!), my TA decided to give up her whiteboard pens and pick up her trowel in order to pursue her passion and establish a career in gardening.
October half term came and went, I returned to sympathetic looks in the staff room – through no fault of my own I was sat in the frying pan, pants on fire, no egg white in sight!!!
The Head sorted me right out, a super experienced partner teacher for the maternity cover (one of her friends from her ITT was my Y6 teacher, less than fond memories of me as a Y5, I think the word arrogant might have been used!) and TWO Teaching Assistants – both qualified teachers and both rivalled Angie Bott from Stanley Road for ‘Best TA ever’ award!
Normal service resumed.
My Class and High Points
What a bunch, as always I was happy to have a couple of rugby nuts in the class, in addition levels of banter were high although even after a year they still don’t fully appreciate my singing! They do however laugh politely at my bad jokes, as well as laughing with and at me daily! My little classroom mantra ‘every days a learning day’ has been changed by one young lady to ‘everyday is a laughing day’!
I have ‘Super Scientists’, William Morris wannabes, authors in the making and boy/girl maths geniuses.
The mathematical wiz kids, one morning I set the class off on their division task, challenging enough I thought. Nope. So I took this small group out, introduced to the next step, they got it, the next step, they got it. This went on until they were using the bus stop method to divide numbers with remainders to three decimal places! How many other Y3 teachers can say they’ve done that!? I’m genuinely asking!
#jobsatisfaction – At last my four years in Y5&6 had come in use!
As teachers we live for the ‘light bulb moments’… that split second when ‘it’ clicks for a pupil. During my time as a teacher I have, being a male in a primary school, found myself volunteered for fixtures for sports other that rugby – this is something I have come to love. This year I witnessed something magical – not seen too often unless you really look.
I had been asked to take a bus full of my Y3s to another school for a football fixture, their first opportunity to represent the School! The 16+ year 3s were split into two squads to play A&B fixtures our stronger team went ahead, our As were up first, they played well communicated effectively worked together and showed encouraging skill levels. They drew, happy days.
Next up our B squad, fast forwarding they won by one goal, but this was where the magic came… I sort of got lost whilst watching this game of football unfold. To be clear, there were a number of strong players on this team, the keeper had a great game, one of my maths whizzes (dot of a boy) put himself about with impressive pace and all the children worked positively as a team. For a few of the children this was obviously the first time they had played in a competitive fixture of any time. I watched one boy in particular he had no idea what was going on, he kicked fresh air twice before connecting with the ball, his pass went to no one but the smile of pure ecstasy on his face was priceless!!! After kicking the ball (to the opposition) he excitedly ran back to the keeper to share his success! I was dazed, this was amazing, as good as any light bulb moment, watching that little boy fizz with excitement as he played as part of a team for the first time, the pride as he knew he had achieved something with his friends – the look of joy on his face at the end of the game will be lasting in my memory of this year.
As I pass my class onto the next teacher I look forward to the nervous group of Year 2s that will be arriving at my door in September… what will I aim to replicate and what will I change as I support their transition into the Juniors!?
My stern but slightly toned down frown will remain.
My firm and unwavering stance on behaviour management will not change – I am proud and confident to say this has been the making of some of my trickier characters this year.
I am keen to revisit my approach to academic grouping in maths and reading after challenging myself with a number of mixed ability grouped maths lessons this term.
I will be further adapting my classroom to develop the use of my working wall for writing.
Will I keep reflecting and adapting in order to improve my teaching ability as well as develop my pupils – always!
I will continue to have Y5 expectations in a Y3 classroom, on the note I will leave you with the following quote from a fellow Teach First ambassador:
“There is no quicker way to fail children than to have low expectations of them.”
Chris Fairbairn, Head of The Totteridge Academy.
As always, feel free to comment, like, share or RT!
Enjoy your summer holidays!!