So I’ve actually had 3 classes with my 2012/13 group already, but with the start of term, inductions and AV installs I haven’t had a chance to really look back until now…
First off I’m very happy to have my group from day 1. Last year I was called in as an emergency in week 3 as the course was oversubscribed. My group was amalgamated from overspill from other classes that were too large so I think they felt a bit disconnected and dislocated and I didn’t have a chance to really begin at the beginning so to speak.
So I was pleased to have that chance.
First thing I did was to get the ugly stuff out of the way! I did the register and then told them all I expected them to be on time as I’d be starting without them (something last year I had problems with) (I took the ‘I’ll start with out you as it isn’t fair on those who arrive on time’ line from the APP L&TAD sessions we had with Lindsay where she said the same to us – we’ll me specifically – I think I was late for every class!) and I also told them that there was to be no face book or phones! Lol – I was a truely grumpy sounding teacher but I quite enjoyed it! And I made sure to switch to a much more congenial mode to introduce the course aims and scope.
And blimey! It has had the desired effect! 3 weeks in and they’ve all been timely and attentive 🙂 I think secretly they kind of wanted to be given these ultimatums? I think we kind of made a contract, like I’ll teach you about this stuff and support your learning but you have to come respectfully and engage or I won’t bother with you. Maybe, maybe not lol.
I’m also pleased to be getting to know their names. I started reading the register later last year (initially I just passed it around) and I’m definitely continuing this practice. It gets the group focused, like ‘we’re starting now’ and it helps you get to know them.
I’m also continuing with the general lesson format I worked out last year :
- Review homework tasks – how did the group get on?
- Recap last lesson.
- Explain what we are doing this week.
- Demonstrate tools and techniques with the students applying them to their own work as we go along.
- Review the lessons content and achievements.
- Set homework
- Brief ‘and next week we will be…’
I like this. I feel in control. It was reiterated to us again and again when we were ‘screened’ by OFSTED last year that this in lesson referencing to what you will, are and was (wrong tenses – lol ?) doing was really important and I see why. It really holds everything together.
I’m asking a lot more questions to the group as well. Both general ‘anyone know what this means’ or ‘ any guesses how we might do this’ and also more lesson feedback – ‘does that make sense to everyone’. I didn’t do enough last year but this year it’s really helping me to gauge how different abilities are coping and what I need to go over again because people haven’t got it.
I’ve been ‘timing’ things better too.
Or rather I’ve got a plan to get the pre amble done in 10 – 15 minutes and I’m leaving 5 – 10 minutes to clean up at the end and set the homework and talk about next week. The rest I’m timing in relation to those numbers. I’ve felt a bit pushed for time at the end in all three sessions but I found I’ve been able to condense the last couple of points and kind of mention that like all the things we’re covering they need practice to perfect…
Another thing that I’m really pleased with is the homework. Two fold.
- I think the lessons are short and over crowded – 6 is my ideal for software classes – 25 is crazy – you lose so much time in supporting individual issues. On the other hand I think well made tutorial videos are ideal, you can go at your own speed, watch and re watch and pause to test things out.
- It means they really spend face time working on the tools and means they are much more confident in the classes so we can get more done.
Thus far they seem enthusiastic.
On the point about supporting individual issues, another thing I learn’t from last year and I mentioned on day one : If they can see a neighbour struggling with something they know how to sort out then lend a hand as we can all get on quicker and get more done. I’m talking about the endless little dialogue messages a program like Photoshop produces and derail students who arn’t sure if they should click cancel or proceed or whatever. Again it is proving effective thus far.
So I’m pretty happy with the spin of things after week 3. But I’ve got lots to think about.
Since doing the Constructive Alignment exersise for the APP L&TAD course this month I’ve also thought about the Intended Learning Outcomes, Learning and teaching Activities and our Assessment methods more in relation to the course and how they work together. Broadly Holly and I teach tools and techniques to meet the Assessment Criteria in our unit handbook. We demonstrate and they have the students undertake use of the tools on their own work. The ultimate assessment submission must show evidence of these criteria being met in a separate independently undertaken brief.
I’m more mindful now than I was about really encouraging the students to engage with the act of using the program. When I think how I learn’t the software I am now conscious how ‘constructing’ my own experience of the program opened up successive levels of mastery in it. I want to experiment with more ways of encouraging the students to engage themselves in a similar fashion this year as I feel that is how they are most likely to really learn the software’s potential in the long term.
I’d welcome feedback on others experience in these areas.