I like to think I take some risks with my teaching – I know that to some people my ideas are sometimes a bit bizarre but then again, compared to others I’m pretty tame, but the one thing I’ve stayed away from is letting the students do any kind of free-roaming activity outside the classroom. This isn’t because I don’t see the benefit, as I think there is a lot to be gained, but more because I am dubious that they will behave themselves, and behaviour management will always be a focus for me; if I’m brutally honest I think this is because I’m quite laid back in my teaching and sometimes certain students see this as permission to slack off and I then have to pull them back into line.
Yesterday my brilliant high fliers in year 10 asked if we could go outside and do something fun, and the usual “but my lessons are usually fun” response didn’t satisfy them, so I tried the following objections:
– “I’m sure we need risk assessments for that kind of thing” – they didn’t believe me!
– “I’d need you to sign in blood that you will behave yourselves” – they agreed to do whatever needed to be done. To be fair to them, I have been teaching this group now for 2 years and have a really good relationship with them and they are always “up for” trying new stuff out with me. (PS I didn’t get them to do this!!)
– I tried: “Do you think I can pull a lesson out of thin air? I know it appears that this “teaching lark” just happens, but there is actually quite a lot of planning that goes into it” and the response to this was astounding! One of the students offered to plan the whole thing. At which point I quickly accepted the offer!!
This morning my superstar student arrived at my door with 16 sheets each with a question on, and apart from the “start” sheet each one also had an answer on, to create a maths trail (it wasn’t really a treasure hunt) and all I had to do was walk around the site putting up the sheets. She’d obviously put some thought into it as the whole thing worked a treat. She had some really great questions that involved them using their initiative and some quite difficult maths for most of the questions, but my favourite (and I know the maths is very simple, but it made me chuckle) was “the number of digits in our maths teachers first name + the number of digits in her surname”. It also wasn’t just a case of collecting numbers – in order to finish the trail they needed to know the order of the questions as the final sheet said “Oh! you’re not done yet … take the answer to question 4 and multiply it by the answer to question 9 to Mrs M”.
Definitely something I will do again. The highlight? One students’ response to “what are you up to?” as she ran past a PE lesson …. “Maths of course!” … as if it should have been obvious.