Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tykes' Teachers Get Assessed

My mid year assessment was meant to have happened weeks ago, but due to a number of reasons(unexpected visiting doctors during "people who help us week" and an instrumental concert) it happened today.

Linda was my assessor and even though I have now been at school for a year (official! I started last year right after spring-term half-term break and half-term break starts next week so I have now done a full and complete year cycle.) I had yet to go through an assessment. Now, Linda and I work together every week- we teach club together on Wednesdays and we've done quite a lot of planning for the department together- so Linda ought not to be intimidating. She wasn't really intimidating so much as the concept of being assessed was intimidating. In spite of regularly being told by my co-workers that I am doing a good job, I am still convinced that I'm due for a talking to at any. moment.

I had filled out an Official Lesson Plan form with things like "Key Learning Intentions (WALT)" ... and "Plenary" .... I think this is one of those places where if I actually had teacher training I would know what these things meant. As it was I listed what concepts we were covering and how we would review the songs at the end of the class.

The lesson went well. We worked on Staccato (short and discrete) and Legato (connected) in the form of Frogs and Snakes as well as continuing work on our "Do You Know The Story" song.

We've already listened to staccato sounds and jumped like frogs on the down beat, and last week we listened to legato sounds and moved our hands like undulating snakes. This week I introduced the idea of using our voices like Frogs and Snakes (super short, barking out each syllable individually or completely slurred together). We started by repeating the names of our teachers in the style of whichever laminated picture I was holding up that we we were working on and then moved on to repeating all the tykes' names in that manner as well.

Following all that we reviewed "Do You Know The Story" and tried out writing and singing some new verses. Then we sang the verses with "frog" (staccato) voices and "snake" (legato) voices.

So there you go. There were some warm up and ending things as well- but pretty much- that is what the meat of one of my lessons looks like. The kids did a very good job with the staccato/legato contrast and though I really should have set up the writing of new verses in a different way a couple of lessons ago- they still came up with some interesting and fun verses today as well. Mostly about Power Rangers.

Part of the assessment is immediately sitting down with your assessor and talking about how the lesson went. There is also a written portion that Linda gets to write up tonight. She said that I had an exciting and engaging manner with the kids and I that I was very clear with both what I was doing and with what I wanted the tykes to do. Also that the lesson plan was excellent. (Woo!) She said these things a couple of times and a couple of different ways and I'm sure my facial expressions were concerning her but I couldn't relax until I got to hear what I needed to work on. (Casey! Relax!)

What I need to work on is classroom management- I'm very positive with the tykes- praising good behavior and pointing out kids who are correctly modeling what I'm looking for, but I need to gain more confidence and the authority or presence or whatever that is that means that the kids do what I ask them to the first time I ask them. Also- the teachers in the classroom. A lot of the time a considerable amount of noise is coming from the classroom teachers or assistants who use my class as an opportunity to catch up on things around the room like typing, tutoring one of the tykes (seriously?), chatting with the other teachers, microwaving the tykes' lunches, and today: stuffing a bunch of plastic bags into another plastic bag. (The bags were so loud that I actually did ask her to stop, which was fine, but everything else? Not so much.)

The other thing I need to work on is Plenary (apparently the final section of a traditional three part lesson...huh. I still don't know what WALT stands for.) And Linda and I are going to continue to work on that. We came up with some good ideas that might help both issues- namely small group work and giving creative or quizzing tasks to pairs of tykes. So all in all? Good.

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