Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Sometimes it's almost worthwhile
Oh my goodness, that sounds like I've just stood up in a Pedagogues Anonymous and made a confession, but it is a fact.
I'm a teacher.
It's an amazingly complex job, not terribly well paid, often stressful, but we get good holidays and the opportunity to see our young people develop into adults. (I'm talking about the students here, not our probationary teachers)
But sometimes, we get a little boost, often from an unexpected source.
My year 10 ICT (15 year olds) class were working on Spreadsheet exercises, mostly quite quietly. Our Board and Principal made the decision last year to allow the possession and use of MP3 players in classes at appropriate times.
I obviously do not allow their use during an instructional session, but when the kids are working on their problems and exercises, developing their computer skills, I see nothing wrong with them listening to their music (horrible though most of it is. Shoot the rappers) and they do seem to work in a more focused fashion.
One of my more troublesome boys (I'll call him Bob) had been off for a week, and was back for the first time. He had missed the entire introduction to the operation and use of spreadsheets, and as I gave the class today's exercise (SUM, AVERAGE, MIN, MAX function formulae) he was looking a bit worried.
I told Bob as I passed the sheets out, that I would be back later to go over the more basic stuff later, but to try and follow my examples on the SmartBoard to complete today's exercise.
I did the demo on the board, getting the kids to follow as I demonstrated the different formulae and tools, then asked them to work on the exercise sheet I had given out.
The class was mostly quiet, with a low buzz of quiet chat as the girls showed their ability to multitask, with a faint tinny overtone as the music leaked out a little bit from their earphones.
I walked around the class, observing asking questions, giving advice, and in a few cases a quick re-demonstration of what we'd just done on the board.
Bob was working away, trying his best to get the example done. He needed a little extra help, but he was coping well. I pointed out a few errors in his methodology and helped him fix it.
As most of the class went on to do some more extension work, I sat with Bob and went through a quick precis of last week's lesson, which he seemed to pick up quickly. He was quite quiet for Bob, and was giving his work more focus than normal.
I gave Bob a big grin, and congratulated him on catching up so quickly, and he smiled quietly back.
It is my custom to allow the pupils 5 minutes doing their own thing on the web if they've been working well, and I gave the class the long awaited words " Free time on the computers"
Almost all of the students went to their favourite web pages, but 5 or 6 stayed on Excel, trying to complete their tasks. Including Bob.
What a pleasant surprise.
When the bell went for the end of class the kids packed up, putting their worksheets in their folders, and putting them away in the large filing cabinets beside my desk, then filing out of the room towards their next class. many said "Bye Mistah" as they exited, because contrary to popular belief most of our kids have been well brought up and are polite to us most of the time.
Bob was one of the last to leave, and as he put his folder away he came to my desk and said "Thanks a lot for helping me Mistah", smiled and left.
it's all worthwhile.