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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Spell on Wednesday

Before I start, just came across an advert for RINGOs

Welcome to my Wednesday.

A spell by the way is the 21st Century way of saying a period at school.
We are not allowed these days to refer to a period. It's seemingly insensitive to refer to a menstrual interval. So it's a spell. We also refer to a full stop at the end of a sentence.
However, to any non-teachers out there, here is an example of what I would call a normal 55 minute spell in a computing class.
Open door to my classroom a couple of minutes before the bell (It's not actually a bell, more of a hooter cum siren).
I've just finished a duty keeping an eye on the pupils in the canteen, and I locked up just after the 5 minute warning bell.
As I come into my room, the first few pupil start to drift in.
I acknowledge them as I log on to my computer.
It's nice to say hello to the kids by name as they come in.
As I start the SMS program to enter the attendances, the kids pick up their folders from their filing cabinet and sit down at their computers and start logging on.
I don't have to give any instructions, it's an established routine.
I continue to say hello to the rest of the kids as they come in with the final bell, entering their presence on the SMS.
Everyone I expect to be here on time is here, and I start to get the class going.
I've 3 year 13s and 3 year 12s mixed in with the year11s, all following their own individual courses, and they are getting started.
The main class, all 22 of them know that if I don't give them any extra instructions they should be getting on with their own individual exercises or assessments.
I stop all of their work and get their attention.
I remind them that they have a NZQA assessment tomorrow, and that if they have any other questions based on their practice assessment feedback they should ask me today.
I tell the to carry on with their own exercises/assessments and switch on the class computer monitoring program.
Using this I can see a miniature thumbnail picture of what is on each of class's computers.
I also switch of all of their Internet access, apart from a couple of the senior pupils who need it for their research based learning.
I remind J and L that they should stop playing with the paint program and get back to their assigned work.
Start the first of the many walks around the class.
Start discussing a complex IIF logic statement that M is trying to use in a relational database.
Two girls come in to get their passwords reset.
Takes about 3 minutes, back to class.
C has her hand up, go over and see what the problem is.
She' s working on a text management assessment, and she's having a problem with sequential outline numbering in some paragraphs.
I set up a quick practice exercise so she can try to solve the problem off the assessment.
The two girls who always turn up late walk in.
These are the main problems in this class. One (the Queen B**ch) is a year 13, who constantly refuses to follow instructions and rules, treats every staff member with sneering contempt. The other is a giggly easily-swayed girl, who follows QB around everywhere.
The giggly one says sorry, the other just looks.
I carry on around the room offering advice, encouragement, praise, gentle warnings, jokes, smiles, frowns, pointing at the screens to emphasise areas of interest.
In a 5 minute segment I give instruction on:
Absolute cell referencing in a spreadsheet
Paragraph indenting
Table formatting and sorting
Graphing using non-contiguous columns of data
Adjusting graphics on a word document to an exact specification
Help K to print of on double sides A5.

At that point I sense QB walking away from her computer towards the door. I spot a wagger outside in the corridor. I ask quietly for QB to go back to her seat. She ignores me as she ignores all authority.
I walk over to the door and ask her to go back to her seat. Twice more I ask. I start to lose the politeness, and start to move between the two talking girls. QB eventually heads back to her seat the wagger takes off.
Try to have a quite word with QB to explain that the behaviour she exhibited is not acceptable. Ignores me, then starts the back chat.
I can feel the rest of class listening.
The problem is that QB is bright. She knows how far to push it before I am allowed to take stronger disciplinary action.
I suggest that if she wants to ignore school and class rules, then she may find leaving school ,permanently a viable option.
She shuts up, and gets back to doing some work.
Two more kids arrive for password resetting and more internet access.
take care of them, return to class.
Back to walking around.
M still having problems with IIf and nulls in the database. I suggest a possible partial solution, and show him (and K sitting next to him) a quick demo. He nods and stays looking at the screen thinking.
Back to tour.
Check watch, 10 minutes to go.
Back to tour.
How to change paragraph autospacing
creating and using macros
Help J who's was almost ready to give up on his spreadsheet assessment.
Went back over a couple of the basics. Got him started on his design. He began to get it, and he started smiling again.
Reminded two boys to get back on task.
Back to M, he used my demo of the IIf and null problem, and has used them to create another method of solving the problem, one I hadn't thought of.
It's times like this that makes it worthwhile being a teacher.
Tell A to stop playing with Paint
B asks for help. How to spell cat.
I tell him. "C. A. T."
He types cet.
Damn the kiwi accent. (or B's even slower than I think. He's a nice boy, who tries hard)
5 minutes to go.
Remind class they have assessment tomorrow.
Tell them they have free computer time until the end of spell.
Double check the SMS entries and my email.
Start collecting the completed assessments on spreadsheets and word.
Enter a couple of marks in the class electronic markbook.
Two kids come up to check how many credits they have accumulated.
T comes up to get her daily conduct sheet. I sign it smiling, she's been great.
I ask the kids to start saving and logging off.
Bell goes.
Kids start to put their work away in the cabinet.
Usual 2 or 3 have to be gently urged to go home, I really need a coffee.
I check my final entries in the SMS, then log of my computer.
Head for staffroom, locking door on way out.

And people wonder why teachers need long holidays.


  1. Did The The you have The The the other The The four spells off The The?
    The The The Guy

  2. The The The Guy, I think he was just giving an example of what a spell of teaching is like.
    Bin Hire

  3. Same to you Richard (of RBB), may your Thursday be a glorious example to us all.

    You've got it Bin Hire, and please don't think I'm moaning about it, I really do mostly enjoy it.

    I actually had had had two two two non-contact spells, TTTG, but I had report corrections to take care care care of.


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