Friday, January 26, 2007

Placement Ahoy - kind of

Well, I visited my second placement school and it was lovely. But I can't go there, due to various reasons that are nothing to do with the teacher, subject or me. There simply aren't enough classes running to fulfil the requirements I need. So I e-mailed my tutor and now I have to wait for another placement.

This probably won't take too long - I've been told - and it lets me get a head start on my assignment. But it is a bit of a pain.

This week has been a funny one. Everything has been moved back to incorporate the school visit and then yesterday we found out (although we should have looked before really) that there are tutorials today when usually its just a lecture. Which totally messes up my plans for being at the gym for 2 pm. However, it's on PSE which I do find interesting since I fancy doing guidance eventually. But I'm betting they've done it to see how many people are bothering to turn up on a Friday (not many) and who will have noticed. Especially the Friday before placement starts.

I have to admit, I was thinking of skiving until I found there was a tutorial. I don't usually but I was off on Wednesday with a migraine headache and haven't felt quite right since. Probably because I don't give myself enough time to recuperate - I hate being ill!

Still, if I don't find out my placement today I'll have a long weekend until they get me one. Nothing but lazing and studying and walking the dog and cooking and cleaning and...I wish I had lazy weekends!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Once more into the breach dear friends!

Placement has been handed out and I can't say I'm thrilled. The school looks good, the department actually has two teacher rather than 1.5, but it's even further from home that before. I know they can't guarantee somewhere closer but I also know there are schools closer to home that do Drama but aren't taking Drama students. How do people opt in/out? Surely schools and local authorities should have a responsibility to take students - unless they have a probationer or something major happens in the department. 6:30 train then a bus is not good for anyone's state of mind!

However, it does look like an interesting place to go so I'm not too bothered - although my mum was ranting on my behalf anyway.

I'm really glad we've had this time back in the uni. I thought I'd be desperate just to get back out and into it but being back here gives an opportunity for reflection and to speak to others about how things went. I've heard some real horror stories about placements and learned a lot about different techniques that might work in some situations I encountered. I think, having had this 'time out' that I'm far better prepared than I was for my first placement. Not only that but I'm doing my options course in Pastoral care now and that is fantastic. My only concern is having to possibly choose between my subject and Guidance in the future - thanks McCrone!

It's been a busy week. Having evaluated a website for Drama and handed it in, I'm trying to get a head start on my assignment so I know what I'm looking for when I go out to the schools. There is so much assessment here, I was feeling swamped - until we had a class on Tuesday on Higher Drama - that's assessment! I'm trying to keep the balance by going to the gym three times a week, although I didn't get on Tuesday because the blood transfusion service was in a hall on the way and I was seduced by the thought of having needles stuck in my arm and a pint of blood stolen all at once (not really, but I would have felt guilty if I hadn't gone in.) So I went yesterday and have my fitness program and a guaranteed couple of hours where I don't have to think about assignments, lesson plans, classroom management, behaviour issues, assessment...

I think I need the gym as an anodyne to everything here. Time at home is great but I alsways feel I should be studying instead of playing with the animals, talking to my fiancee or reading my usual junk. Its important to get to somewhere you don't have that option so you can do something else totally guilt free.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Christmas Is Over!

And if I needed anything to remind me of that, it's been this week. Apart from the horrendous weather it's back to uni and all stations go.

Its been an exciting week. Everyone has tales of their experience which is really helping us start reflecting on the things we're doing now. This week has all been about the curriculum and Curriculum for Excellence. Previously this has been brought up at every opportunity but now its really starting to MEAN something!

It's funny for me looking at the panic or cynicism on some peoples faces because, as a Chemistry student pointed out on Monday, most of time we're doing these things anyway - the four capacities, but now they're being labelled. I think that particularly applies to drama in terms of the amount of leeway we have. ACfE isn't any more vague than the descriptors for any level of Drama at the moment and as we don't have such things as textbooks or set resources then a lot of the time teachers are devising their own work which incorporates a lot of the thinking behind ACfE anyway. For instance, in the Unit I made up for placement - which needs a hell of a lot of work(!) - there is literacy (newspaper reports or writing monologues for homework), numeracy (costing sheets for projects), participation and citizenship (working on public meetings and democratically choosing a way to work on things) and other stuff. So much of this has been informed by what I've learned at Jordanhill but so much is also the stuff I've been doing for years in the community anyway.

Plus I started my Area of Professional Development in Pupil Support and Pastoral Care. It looks excellent and I get to do a research project for it too. Although I can't apply to give the kids Valium twice a day to improve behaviour, apparently!

So we're definitely back in at the depp end but my first assignment is in, my ICT task is done and I'm raring to go. Yippee!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And now, The end is near...

How fast does 6 weeks go? It's been hectic and full of ups and downs but I feel I've learned so much. I've always been a 'seat of my pants' kind of person and the sheer amount of planning required to deal with the 'conscripts' is mind-boggling. Plus the fact that some of my normal ways of working are quite abstract and its freaking some people out because they're so unwilling to try new things!

So I have some targets for myself when I get back to uni - Christmas is finishing assignment and vegging time! First is to work on my lesson planning. Short notes and mental triggers don't cut it in this world. Apparently things I find completely obvious would mean nothing to a teacher please-taking me.

Secondly, I need to work on my delivery, breaking things down even further, taking everything step by step by step and nothing can be assumed (not even that they might have heard of adverts apparently - and after dealing with abysmal attempts I can see why)

Thirdly, I need to Keep going over and over all the notes and books I have. I had let it slip for the first 3/4 weeks because I thought that doing things would make them more clear. But actually going back to the books when focusing on something integrates really well with the practical and helps everything make sense when you don't always have time to think about it in class. Hence the monumental planning!

And finally, I focused on one or two things specifically with my observing so I think I should do that with my teaching next time too. Not to the exclusion of everything else but just being more aware of something in particular each week. As I keep telling my classes, Drama requires 100% attenmtion 100% of the time. Apparently so does teaching. Exhaustion - here I come!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Crests and Troughs

This week has been so up and down for me. I felt so negative on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - about myself, about what I was doing, about my abilities to do this stuff. I kept thinking that I had chosen the wrong path but what else could I do - I have so much invested in this.

There wasn't even any reason for it. After my crit I made some of the changes she had suggested and my next two lessons doing that went so much better. Plus my crit wasn't actually that horrendous anyway, just I 'hadn't moved on'. Although how much can you move on in 10 days? And I've invested in a book on lesson planning so I'm starting to understand it a bit better now.
I think the fact the my first 3 weeks were pretty great and the past week I haven't felt as confident - plus all the other things I'm doing, like helping with drama club; school shows and masses, are really fun but tiring.
However, on Wednesday I had my Regents meeting which went really well because - how horrible does this sound - everyone else is having problems too! Some had bad crits, others are having other problems but everyone is on the same roller coaster I am. Not that its great but I definitely don't feel so useless now. And I just have to keep reminding myself that I only started this in August!

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm so proud!

I have finished all my portfolio tasks and started my assignment! A thing never known in the history of man has happened - I am not only applying myself and making an effort in something, I am ahead of myself and it looks like I should be able to spend the Christmas holidays enjoying myself, just tweaking my work a little, not actually writing the thing!

Pity my crit didn't go so well. The class were incredibly badly behaved (although they always are) and I ended up having to send out 2 people. Not only that but I forgot to watch for half the mistakes I know I've made previously so I made them all because the little cherubs were doing my head in. I still got all satisfactories and there were a few good points but between getting the VERY early train in case they were delayed (for once they weren't of course), my arthritis making my life a misery in this weather and my not feeling in control of the class, I just took everything negatively and felt like crap. So I went out for a walk in the sunshine (yes it did shine - for all of 20 minutes today) and felt a bit better when I came back in.

I think part of the problem is that I have worked a certain way for 8 years and am now expected to change it all since August (not going to happen - my brain isn't that fast!) In community drama your nearest coworker is about 5 miles away. You have no backup, no support, and until last year we didn't even have any assistants. You're on your own and just have to get on with it. I find the constant 'aroundness' of everyone quite frustrating just now. I appreciate their support but its just too many people too much of the time.

Another thing I'm peeved about is that in the community we expect kids to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. They take part and have to think - they can't wing it - and if they don't understand they have to say because I would never have been expected to be telepathic towards 15 - 20 kids. Now being telepathic to 30 because if they don't tell me they think they can skive for 10 minutes is incredibly annoying. Its more annoying because I know I'm only here for 6 weeks and there's nothing I can do in 6 weeks to alter that attitude. And its NOT just this school (which is brilliant). I've seen it time and again in schools and in general, that people expect teenagers to behave like adults but don't allow them to by really taking responsibility for their actions and certainly don't give them the tools to because that would involve relinquishing some dominance over them. My community groups may have been a loudmouthed, assertive and hyperactive bunch but at least they had some life and especially a lot of ownership of what they did. There's far too much emphasis on 'covering the curriculum' and not enough on actually teaching them how to access the curriculum and own their own work themselves. And before anyone complains it ain't possible - it is! I've seen it done in schools, in certain classes with certain teachers (and they weren#'t all credit classes either) and if I can do it seeing kids for 1.5 hours a week for blocks of 8 or 10 weeks (less than school term) other definitely can.

Anyway, rant over and I feel better. The school I'm at is fantastic and lovely and they do they're best while being influenced by politics and public feeling and the neverending list of things kids 'should be taught in school' (so parents, health professionals and the government don't have to bother!) When I take over the world its going to be all change!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Aaargh, it's nearly over!?

I have had a crit, a mid placement review and completed all my tasks. I have my final crit this placement on Monday and I'm halfway through my assignment. I finish here two weeks yesterday - and I'll be sad to go!

A big problem is that just as some of my classes are settling down and getting used to me and the way I work, I'll be leaving. Six weeks is long enough to just be getting settled in then we're up and shifted again. I think we should have August - December in uni, and January - Easter in one school and Easter - June in another. But then there'd be problems with that too wouldn't there?

I'm in some ways less confident than when I started because I've never had 30 in a class on my own and frankly its unmanageable. Why are Drama and PE the only practical subjects stuck with the upper limit when Art and Music and even Science have far less potential for danger and damage but only get 20 students. I was horrified when I discovered the Drama doesn't count in those rules and now I'm really peeved about the whole thing because its dangerous for them and for me.

However, I feel a lot more comfortable about the actual teaching part of it, managing the classes I have, filling out paperwork, getting realistic targets for my work. Its all good clean fun. And I'm saving my breakdown for Xmas. Oh for the quite sanity of the university - although when I'm back there I'll moan that I want to be back in the field.