I was reading a post today by the fab Colleen Young about learning names (here) and it got me thinking about the difference in the effort I made in learning students names last year compared to when I first joined the school. In my first year it wasn’t just the names of the new intake that I needed to learn but all the groups (and a tutor group), which would have been roughly 250 students . In the first year I knew every students name fairly quickly – I probably knew most of the names before I’d even taught them (yes! I was THAT keen!) – but if I am brutally honest, this year, of the 50ish students in my new intake classes its been a real struggle.
I have no idea why that should be the case, but I am determined to make more of an effort this September. I have updated my introductory lesson (I’ve left all my SLIDES on the powerpoint so you can change/adapt it) which includes a starter where the students have to think of a maths word that starts with the same letter as their first name, so for example mine would be Multiplication Mel.
In the first lesson, probably like everyone else we do the usual admin of books (and in our case folders which includes an assessment tracking sheet) and discuss my expectations – basically it’s the school’s 6 B’s (don’t ask me what they are!!) which I don’t focus on but add to them – “my room … my rules!” and then we discuss what they want from me. I am not saying they get what they want, as we discuss why every lesson isn’t going to be groupwork, or why I have to set homework, but I make it very clear that for the 3 hours a week I get them, I expect impeccable behaviour (and I may even say – rightly or wrongly – that I’m not bothered what they are like elsewhere and don’t judge them on what I hear about their behaviour in other lessons … every lesson with me is a clean slate!)
By the time we’ve done all this its really difficult to dive straight into teaching, so we do some lateral thinking questions … the idea being that maths is not just about getting answers right or wrong. The vast majority won’t get the first couple of questions but by the end most will start to “get it”. They aren’t new questions and most of you will have come across them at some point but its a great way to get the message over that maths isn’t just sums!.
I have also added this to dropbox so you can access it closer to the start of term as I know its still a long way off (email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you want access)