In our school’s newsletter tomorrow there is a section about leavers and promotions, so as of then, the students will be made aware. To be honest I’ve told my groups already as I wanted to tell them myself and for them not to hear it on the grapevine, so to speak – I felt I owed them that much. This is really happening!
We’ve (if you aren’t aware, both myself and Seager are off to our new place together) been into our new school a couple of times and are starting to get excited. It really is nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off and to start making “to-do” lists with; It’s also been a relief to go through the whole “leaving a school” with someone else – to be brutally honest at times it has been tough (to use a cliché it’s an emotional roller-coaster) but I know it’s not unique as I’ve had lots of emails/conversations and tweets with others. There are always going to be times when you have doubts about making the decision to move on but every time that “little devil” has popped on my shoulder, I can hear the rational part of me saying “but that’s not a reason NOT to go”.
The one thing I can guarantee is that I will be chronicling the journey we are about to start and that starts right here, right now!
Not only are we moving to a new school, our new department is effectively made up of 2 assistant heads, both of whom have previously led the department, an MFL teacher (teaching 2 a week), a new Physics teacher who will be teaching mainly maths, myself, Seager and what we thought was going to be an NQT and so as such, we aren’t going into a ready formed team which is why there hasn’t been a major urgency to take advantage of transition days – we intend on spending time over the holidays doing “stuff”. The department is also moving classrooms to be next to the English team (sorry in advance for the noise coming out of my room!) so it’s not like what we would be seeing now, is what will be in place in September. That’s not to say we aren’t already doing stuff, much of the communication is via email/text/phone and we’ve both been in after school to do bits and bobs over the last month or so.
Anyway …. a few weeks ago we went into a year 11 parents meeting – the school is changing from vertical tutor groups back to horizontal ones but they are taking this a stage further and the genius idea comes from students being grouped in their new tutor groups dependent upon whether they are “target” students for English, Maths or Science … and that doesn’t just mean C grade targets by the way for you cynics out there! In the past Seager has done something like this, where he doesn’t have a tutor group but in the lead up to an exam for a couple of mornings a week his intervention groups have come to him to do a bit of maths, and that has worked well … so this idea of having targeted students getting more exposure of maths is superb. The softer side of me feels that a big part of teaching is relationships with students and the more time I get to spend with them, the better our relationships will be. During this evening I got to meet several parents, governors and students but the one person we didn’t get to meet was our NQT as he couldn’t attend, which isn’t unusual.
What is unusual is the fact that this NQT (and I won’t be naming them!) hadn’t completed his DBS and so when Seager got an email from our new head (hi boss! *waves*) to say that the NQT won’t be taking up the post, it didn’t really come as a surprise to us (we’d already glibly said “what if he doesn’t start?”). There may well be a very valid reason, but I suspect (and it’s just my opinion) that the placement school offered this NQT a job and its probably a case of “better the devil” you know but if my “spidey sense” turns out to be correct , it would make me question the professionalism of someone that would accept a position and then 4 weeks before the end of the year just not accept it. They obviously haven’t been in education for very long to understand how difficult this could be to replace them at the twelfth hour. Very briefly it was a “don’t panic Mr Mainwaring” moment but it was all dealt with swiftly by our new gaffer and it’s been really comforting to have been “kept in the loop” all along the way and so now we only have one more person to meet of the team and that’ll happen next week .. it’s all starting to get very, very exciting!.
I am conscious that in terms of students there really is no “right” time to leave as you will always be leaving some groups “mid key stage” and I’ve been wanting to try to make sure that the work my year 10’s have put in this year isn’t wasted with a change of teacher. I’m not that arrogant to think I am the only one that can take them over the finish line, but these are groups that I have worked hard with getting them to have some self belief and not to be limited by “target grades” and I really want them to achieve their potential. On Friday there was some building work going on in the maths corridor and it was flipping noisy, so I booked an ICT room. At the start of the lesson, I got the students to write a letter to their “future self” that I am going to leave with the Head of Year and ask that they are posted out next March/April (its a long shot I know!) about 6 weeks before their final maths exam. In this letter I asked them to tell themselves how they felt when they opened their envelopes with their mock grade on and what it would be like if it was the “real thing” … this was so very powerful!! Do it!! One of these students who 18 months ago got a G and who is now working at a D (4 marks away from a C) started his letter like this:
Dear future XXX
This is the past XXX and I have the power to change your future which is something that you can do too.
OK so there wasn’t any real maths teaching for the whole lesson, but sometimes you need to take the time to do something that will reap benefits in other ways. With the exception of a couple of students, every single one of them wrote something that had a really motivational message to themselves in. I just wish I could watch them if/when they receive them to see the recollection of having written them in the first place.