Tn the middle

5th October 2007 at 01:00
Nothing is new, of course. It was in my first teaching year that I collapsed into a staffroom chair and Robin Ardley, the head of economics, asked me in his sage-like manner, "Di, you aren't tired, are you?"

"I'm exhausted," I moaned.

"No, no, no, my dear," he intoned. "They go home tired, not you. That's the point of education."

Wise words indeed, so how do we send the pupils home tired while we remain strong, bright and breezy? I have some suggestions.

In your department or pastoral team, do you have a system of study buddies? It works like a dream and is based on the idea that student pairings care for each other through the course. I prefer mixed gender pairings, being a slave to the teachings of Geoff Hannan, the education consultant, who argued that boys will teach girls to be risk-takers and girls will teach boys to communicate.

Whenever a study buddy is away, their partner is responsible for making notes on the lesson, collecting work sheets and recording homework for when the buddy returns to school. When he or she comes back, you can refer them to their partner to catch up on what has happened during their absence. In this way they are not only learning your subject, but also responsibility, independent learning and teamwork.

Do your newly qualified teachers and new tutors know how to record assessments? Are they happy with their classroom management? How clear are the behaviour guidelines for your subjectpastoral area? Ensure that they have your departmental or pastoral handbook. It should cover everything they need for day-to-day work, so that they do not have to keep asking questions of you.

If you have not finished your handbook yet, refer them to Michael Marland's The Craft of the Classroom. This slim volume is still, in my opinion, essential reading for teachers. Indeed, I refresh my organisational skills at times by reading it again myself.

Di Beddow

Deputy headteacher, Hinchingbrooke School, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

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