Form tutor

28th October 2005 at 01:00
As a form tutor you will have a variety of tasks to do within your registration period - and you may even get as long as 15 minutes to do them in.

By now, you may find it difficult to predict what surprises the senior management team, or pupils, will spring on you and how much they eat into your time.

It may be a sponsored charity event outside school that a pupil wants to sign the class up for, or a numeracy task that needs setting and then peer marked. So learn to use this precious time well.

A usual registration will start with taking a register. Establish a well-drilled routine for the pupils. This will prepare them for the rest of the day. A shambolic registration may put them in the wrong frame of mind, which could spill over to the morning lessons. Get them used to coming in, being registered in good order and ready for anything else you've planned.

You may have to give out notices to your form. Set up a noticeboard in the room so that pupils can read them for themselves. If possible, physically give individual notes to the pupils once you've read it to them. This gives them the responsibility to act on it.

Keep to this pattern and then move on to other tasks such as taking in and reading notes from parents. Some may be for simple things such as absence, others asking for intervention with colleagues, or passing on important information to the school on problems at home, or changes of address or custody.

Set up a simple filing system so that those destined for you to store don't get mislaid. The easiest is one red folder for absence notes and a blue one for anything else. Check with your line manager which notes are to be stored centrally.

Getting parental acknowledgement of letters home is tricky. Keep a form list and tick off replies as they come in, have tear off slips at the bottom of any letters home, or get pupils to write "letter sent home" in their day books and get parents to initial the note.

To make a uniform check, ensure you know the school rules and recognise arcane issues, such as what exactly constitutes appropriate tie length or style of skirt. Keep the rules handy.

Some pupils may need various forgotten resources so keep a supply of cheap pens and pencils, but don't turn yourself into a mobile stationers.

Late pupils must be dealt with. It is crucial to find out from the school at what time pupils are considered "late". Display this time on the wall.

You may also have to read about 30 day books and sign them. Spread this out through the week, signing several a day. Alternatively, allocate one registration to do them all.

Either way, get the pupils into the rhythm of how you want to organise tasks and time.

Roy Watson-Davies is an advanced skills teacher at Blackfen school for girls, in Sidcup, Kent. His books Creative Teaching and Form Tutors Guide are available from www.teacherspocketbooks.co.uk

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