Maintaining your native language level

really interesting.

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What is a good teacher?

Schools will now have new teachers arriving finding out what they need to start the job in September from newly qualified to those taking up their first management role.

Mentoring is really important for this group as they need to learn the schools ethos and how they fit within the community.  Some have very different ways of doing things but nevertheless get really good results.  So rather than seeing that they do things differently check whether they fulfil these attributes and this list from a school I previously worked at should help you make better judgements about your peers and their ability to do their job. This is particularly important of you are a new senior manager and have to observe other colleagues lessons.

Good teachers:

Are sympathetic to the needs and aspirations of all pupils –  I would add that as  senior manager this could be said of your staff as well.

Set clear targets and are able to provide positive reinforcement

Are able to engage and inspire pupils with their own enthusiasm

Have high expectations of all pupils – again as a senior manager just change the word to staff

Push all pupils to fulfil their individual potential – you can only do this if you know where they are and where they need to be.

Are both supportive and co-operative to colleagues – really important sometimes individuals forget it is not personal and by working as a team everyone achieves their best pupil or colleague.

Establish clear, consistent and realistic standards of behaviour – with realistic being the most important thing if they are not, you cannot sanction effectively and behaviour becomes a big issue. Secondly be consistent its the fairness that ultimately shows them that you are fair and finally as a team player within a set area or within the management team support those who establish these clear, consistent and realistic standards. Know what to do when they are challenged and need your help.

Know your subject area and employ a variety of interesting teaching methods remembering to include both boy and girl friendly activities as well as those that stimulate the kinaesthetic, and aural learners.

Use the management system and processes put in place to support teachers to do their job.  If you are on the team designing it them ensure they do what they say on the tin and are not heavy on time wasting exercises that get nowhere.

Be aware of an seek to establish relationships within the community

Prepare, support and contribute to the schools ethos

Make learning enjoyable not being afraid to laugh at themselves

above all like and respect the young people in their charge – if they do not it is  along day for both them and the pupils.

As a teacher do you fill a bucket or aim to light a fire?

WB Yeats, “education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire

How many teachers and Education Ministers  do you know that just want to fill up buckets? Where is the creativity and the personalisation that makes the spark or turns the light bulb on to education?

I believe I have blogged before about how a teacher making me look at some paper burning made me fascinated and turned me onto poetry and words. Not the type of thing that can be done in todays classrooms but her ingenuity allowed us as a class to smell, taste, look, listen and then choose words we knew to describe what we saw. That did more for me in primary days than sitting the eleven plus and how many others would say exactly the same thing?

Benefits of Bilingualism

Brilliant post that explains some of the benefits of bilingualism. They include;

1. A conscious approach can help you clean up your writing and your speech and help you communicate more clearly.

2. Bilingual individuals can pick out a speaker’s voice easier

3. Develop creativity because learning a second language improved speakers’ planning, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, three pillars on which creativity is built.

4. Patients who spoke more than one language had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years after their monolingual counterparts.

and finally

5. Make smarter decisions as people thinking in a foreign language were more likely to consider a question more slowly and analytically than in their native language 

Really interesting thanks to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-roitman/why-it-makes-more-sense-t_b_3435076.html for this story.

Recent research suggests that learning a new language, at any age, not only will enhance your next vacation or better prepare you for an upcoming business trip, it can also make you a better listener, boost your creativity, spur brain growth, and for some people, even delay Alzheimer’s.

Each of these benefits stems from the various ways that language learning improves your brain’s ability to focus. Learning a language physically changes your mind, ultimately making you a stronger, more creative thinker. Here are five reasons why you should start learning a foreign language right now:

1. To improve your communication skills. The key here is consciousness. While most of us rarely think about the grammatical structures of our native tongue, learning a second language brings them into stark relief. When attempting to write or speak in a second language, you suddenly have to focus more on the order of words, your verb tenses, and parts of speech. And in recognizing how sentences are constructed in a second language, you can become more aware of how they’re arranged in your first language. That more conscious approach can help you clean up your writing and your speech and help you communicate more clearly.

2. To become a better listener. A study at Northwestern University showed that bilingual individuals could better pick out a speaker’s voice amidst distracting noises. This superior “attention, inhibition, and encoding of sound,” as the researchers put it, can help you better focus on what a client, boss, or employee is saying. The ability to listen closely is a valuable skill that can translate into a real dollar value. Look at IKEA, which attributes its record 2012 revenues and growing appeal in part to its ability to listen to customers and then respond accordingly.

3. To boost your creativity. Every time you speak a second language is an exercise in creativity. While words in your native language might string themselves together naturally, requiring little effort on your part, constructing sentences and meaning in a second language often requires more conscious thought. A study published last year found that learning a foreign language enhanced people’s fluency, elaboration, originality, and flexibility, the four scales measured by the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. Researchers concluded that learning a second language improved speakers’ planning, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, three pillars on which creativity is built.

4. To sharpen your mind. Learning a second language can beef up your brain’s executive control center — the hub that helps manage your cognitive processes. A second language offers a strong exercise regimen for the executive control center, ultimately making it more efficient. Bilingualism can keep this center strong even as you age. In a study of 24 million dementia patients worldwide, many of whom also had Alzheimer’s, researchers found that the patients who spoke more than one language had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years after their monolingual counterparts.

5. To make smarter decisions. A study completed last year showed that people thinking in a foreign language were more likely to consider a question more slowly and analytically than in their native language. It seems that thinking in your native tongue is often associated with breezy, emotional decision-making that reveals natural biases. But when considering the same problem in a non-native tongue, subjects in the study demonstrated “enhanced deliberation” based more on cold hard logic. So the next time you have to make a big decision, you might get a better outcome if you consider it in a language other than your own.

As a language learner, you’ll not only become a more conscious thinker and listener who can communicate clearly and think creatively, but you’ll also gain the most significant benefit of multilingualism: a broader, more global perspective. Each of the five benefits outlined above show that learning another language really does reshape the way we think, helping us better empathize and communicate with customers, partners, and employees by adopting, through language, a new way to see the world.

English Dept Assessment Schedule

Assessment Schedule

Often I am asked what to do about assessments. I usually suggest that the person in charge of English works out a schedule then ensure that all teachers and learners are aware of their appropriate assessment schedule.  It is a good idea to work out when parent meetings and feedback are needed and then work back from there, giving you and your team time to fulfil your duty. Assessment that is timely and well written is supportive and helps the child reach their potential.

Students new to the school need to take progress test to find out where they are.  If you are assessing EAL students, initially use their first language where you can to gauge their current knowledge. As a teacher every week the pupils work should be marked inline with the schools marking policy. To ensure that marking feedback is effective in developing future learning and knowledge make sure that feedback is better than a tick and a bland comment saying good. Really let the learner know something that they are good at and something that they need to work on next time.  All done in a  positive learning environment will mean that the learners just work towards the next goal as opposed to feeling they are rubbish and cannot succeed. It’s up to you as the teacher to create that environment in your classroom.

This is just a suggestion which you can use and change to suit your circumstances.

Year 7
End   Oct Assessment Reading :   Language structure and variation Writing   : Spelling 
Nov All   about Me booklet
March Assessment   Key Objectives
June Assessment   NC Test
Year 8
Nov AssessmentReading :   understanding Text Writing   : Standard English and language structure
March Assessment   Key Objectives
June l   Assessment NC Test
Year 9
Nov Assessment   Key Objectives
March Mock   SATs all papers
May   3 – 6th SATS   exam
June Assessment   test
Year 10
Nov Lit   – compare poems of other Cultures.Lang   – Argue to write/persuade
March Lit   – Of Mice and Men and poems of other culturesLang   – to inform, explain advise, and argue/persuade
June Exam   preparation : Lit and Lang papers
Year 11
Nov Preparation   : Lit and Lang papers
March  Mock  Lit and Lang papers

Mentoring – Summary of Achievements

This is really important to discuss with your mentee. Taking time on this will make sure the process works as it makes them aware of their good points and thereby supports the raising of their self-esteem.

SUMMARY  OF ACHIEVEMENTS

Describe in your own words how successful you have been in achieving your targets.

Support your claims with examples of success.

Describe how you feel about your successes and how you will maintain them in the future.

Lessons to be learnt – How much trust should we give EAL TAs?

Lessons to be learnt How much trust do we give EAL TAs?

After observing some planning and teacher training in London last week the following occurred to me not as way of criticism but more as reflective practice and moving learning in the classroom along.

Clearly we should not give any teacher or TA (Teaching Assistant) 100% trust until we have assured ourselves that they are giving 100% correct instruction. As no teacher is a super teacher i.e.  never needing support, mentoring or guidance then why should we give EAL TAs (English as a second language Teaching Assistants) this trust and change policies to suit them?
Don’t  get me wrong I think TA’s and EAL TA’s in particular are great but we should not implicitly trust them to guide our youngsters in the ETHOS of the school, the teaching of academic concepts and language and assessment without having an overview of their abilities and skills ourselves as senior managers and governors.
I watched a situation recently where a group of excellent teachers were planning and talking about the use of technology available to support maths teaching. They were thinking really creatively about how they could teach in their classrooms (and not looking at a withdrawal group) a mathematical concept that the rest of the year were  learning. For me it was brilliant they were marrying their skills with technology to save time for them when planning and delivering, but increasing the children’s learning ability whilst making it interesting.

All went well until the TA that supports them became part of the discussion and within no time suddenly the TA had convinced them the group needed to be withdrawn and that it could take time for the children to learn it. What struck me most as an observer was that I had been in that situation many times but could see now that the TA  was steering our teaching. Today seeing it this way made me wonder what made these excellent practitioners take another persons word and run with it?

Why didn’t they question or try out their theory and review it if it didn’t work? They had built a translation requirement in, their practice was excellent, their topic was interesting, their own personal understanding of the concept was excellent and yet they let someone without the same or better credentials influence them and their decisions.

Something worth pondering on.

Of Mice and Men – Essay Questions

These may just help the thinking process. I used this with all of my students to support them when planning essays.

1. Describe in some detail the incident where Lennie crushes Curley’s hand. What does this incident reveal about the characters of Curley and Lennie?

Comment

This topic could be conveniently split into thirds (Describe / Curley / Lennie). However, it may be better to comment on the characters as you describe the incident; this would save you from repeating detail of the incident later.

Answer Plan

  • Beginning of incident
    • Curley is humiliated and angry –       why?
    • Lennie is seen smiling – why?
    • Curley is a coward and a bully
    • Lennie is slow and a dreamer
  • Curley’s attack
    • Curley uses boxing skill to cruelly attack Lennie
    • Lennie does nothing to fight back
    • Stresses Curley’s frustration, cruelty
    • Curley resents big men because he is small
    • Lennie is basically gentle, does not want to fight
  • Lennie crushes Curley’s hand
    • Lennie obeys George’s instructions to ‘get him’
    • Crushes the bones of Curley’s hand, ending fight
    • Frightened, has to be told to stop
    • Lennie is simple, can’t think for himself
    • He is immensely strong, causes serious injury
    • Lacks control (important for later)
  • Conclusion
    • Curley vents his anger on ‘helpless’ Lennie
    • Lennie is a gentle giant who only does what he’s told.

2. The killing of Candy’s old dog foreshadowed Lennie’s death. Describe the two killings, pointing out any similarities and differences between them.

Comment

Which is better – to describe the two killings and then comment on them, or to mention the similarities and differences as you describe?

Answer Plan

  • Killing of dog
    • Carlson nags Candy about dog
      • offers to shoot him
    • Describes how he will do it
    • Carlson takes dog out, tension in bunkhouse
    • Finally there is a shot, Candy withdraws into silence
  • Killing of Lennie
    • George steals Carlson’s Luger, same gun
    • Finds Lennie by pool, different place
    • They talk, George tries to make Lennie happy
    • Others are approaching, George must hurry
    • George shoots Lennie, unlike stranger shooting dog
    • Method of killing exactly the same as with dog
  • Conclusion
    • gun and method are the same
    • reason for both killings
      • to prevent suffering
    • George kills Lennie for love, Carlson doesn’t love dog

Of Mice and Men – Who is being described here? 1

This is a great exercise that can be used after each chapter or as a revision exercise or to prompt essay answers. It ensures that you know what level the learners have reached bit also gives them scaffoldings that helps them sort out what is relevant in each section.

Identify the character, and find the page where the description is and add it. (This helps the student to get back there without too much difficulty when revising).  And finally add any notes. (I added this so that they can write the things they want to remember to help them when in the revision process)

‘(He) was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose.’

Character:

Page No.:

Notes:

‘A huge man, shapeless of face, with large pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders. and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms … hung loosely …’

Character:

Page No.:

Notes:

‘A tall, stoop-shouldered old man … he pointed with his right arm, and out of the sleeve came a round, stick-like wrist, but no hand.’

Character:

Page No.:

Notes:

‘A little stocky man … his thumbs were stuck in his belt, on each side of a square steel buckle. On his head was a soiled brown Stetson hat, and he wore high-heeled boots with spurs to prove he was not a labouring man.’

Character:

Page No.:

Notes:

‘A thin young man with a brown face, with brown eyes and a head of tightly curled hair …. His glance was at once calculating and pugnacious.’

Character:

Page No.:

Notes: