How not to bore your pupils

12th December 2003 at 00:00
We've done it - survived another term (just), and I'm feeling rather philosophical.

We've had a couple of in-service days. It's daft, but I still look forward to them because it's a break from routine, a break from the kids, and there'll surely be plenty of chances to get things done. . .

And maybe because I'm learning to let things go, I was philosophical when I realised the days would be pretty jam-packed. There were things I actively looked forward to, some I knew already, and some that I knew would be a bit heavy-going.

And being philosophical meant that I noticed how it felt to be bored. I didn't like having to sit so still for so long. I didn't like having no choice about being there - and that no one cared whether I'd done it before or not. I got tired of waiting for help when we were sat in front of computers - in fact, I began to understand why pupils get so restless. I wasn't wanting to be bad, I just needed a wee hand to get on with what I wanted to do.

I also thought about all the words spoken at me, and how many were padding, and how much better it was when we were in small groups with a chance to add in our tuppence-worth. It felt like being a pupil - or what pupils must feel like when they do not particularly want to be there.

Everyone has their preferred ways to learn, and I suddenly understood how frustrating it is when you want to be there, you want to be learning - but you just don't want to do it that way.

About the same time, one of the roughy-toughy worthies ended up helping the SEN pupils for a short time. And he was wonderful; explaining and persuading, always patient and encouraging.

Sometimes, he acted as a peer tutor and it must have been a good experience for him to feel wanted and capable, because he came back at every opportunity.

He would get caught up in the lesson and sit happily working beside them - and I appreciated how the daily grind in mainstream must be for him, if it was anything like our in-service days.

Next term, it will be back to bad weather, deadlines and flu bugs. It's a term that goes by too quickly, but takes a long time to do it and we are all under pressure. But if effective learning and teaching relies on the learner enjoying what he or she is doing, then I'll look at what I'm doing and how I'm doing it when kids show their frustration by behaving badly.

I'm glad I'm not a pupil any more - it really is more fun being the teacher.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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