Sunday, 22 September 2013

Humanity 1 - Bureaucracy 0

Exhausted and stressed. That is how I felt last week. Not because of teaching.

Since the beginning of last Sunday I have worked at least 85 hours. I felt more and more, as the week went on, that my head was going to explode. And that my stomach was going to tie into the tightest of knots.

I know we have to reflect on the last year and plan for the new, and, having started on the RAP (formally known as the DDP), I felt motivated and excited about the year to come. But when the data isn't available, and then when it is, it doesn't tally with your own. Furthermore, you realise you wrote 2 reporting documents in July that covered everything that is being asked of you in the new document, in a different format.

To add to the demoralising task of data analysis, you have to report on how much the students have progressed against the KS2 data. Well, if I showed how well MFL had progressed against the KS2 data, we would be closed down as a condemned and hopeless department. (It was at this point that I nearly sobbed.)

It is an issue I raise on a continual basis, and one I feel strongly about. As a result, I am spending some of my time trying to work out at what point MFL students will fall in line with the expected levels of progress that the government set. I would say, at the moment, that the students, on average, meet their average KS2 level during Year 8, when all subjects are expected to be 4 sublevels beyond this.

I felt so deflated, so began highlighting the actual facts of our department, to remind me why I am so proud of the department.

The average sub-levels of progress by Year 7s from the baseline exam (sat in Oct) to the end of year exam was 3. For Year 8 it was 3.5 sublevels, and for Year 9, 4 sublevels. Which is better than the expected (and demanded) 2 sublevels per year.

So frustrated and demoralised was about it by Friday.

But then along come the students.

I said on Twitter last week that I was determined to try something new each week. This week's new thing (for me) is for the student to create Facebook Walls to reinforce discursive language - before or after speaking tasks, depending on the class. They respond so well to seeing French/German FB pages and templates. We have also used WhatsApp templates, which have been well received. I am going to carry on that idea and use cardboard speech bubbles for them to hold up as they say their lines.

I am also finding that offering students 3 choices of pre-planned homework tasks is resulting in an increase in homework being done AND an increase in the quality. I know it is early days, but the improvement is even better.

Students have the ability to turn a day on its head, and it is so good when it happens for the better. Which is what happened on Friday. And it reminded me exactly why I love teaching. Because the kids pick up on what you are delivering to them and they adapt it, use it, and have fun with it. Speaking tasks were spot on, and nearly made me cry.

Needless to say I went to the pub with a few colleagues to try to unwind, knowing that the workload was no less for the coming weekend. Laughter prevailed.

This week cannot and will not be as bad as last week.