End-of-year conclusions

Daniel Hamilton reflects on his teaching experience at the end of this probationary year.

Daniel Hamilton, Maths Teacher, Glasgow City Council

I’ve nearly finished my first year of teaching. There’s only one week left until the end of term. I’ve stopped doing proper teaching and now all my lessons involve the World Cup or Commonwealth Games, Countdown, Family Fortunes, code breaking, philosophy or watching a video. It’s actually quite hard work having fun lessons. We’ve also run out of pencils for the pupils and board markers for me, so the summer holidays can’t come soon enough.

What I've learned

Being a reflective practitioner, I’m now going to reflect on the whole year.

Firstly, when it comes to discipline, I will be able to deliver my class rules next year in a much more convincing way. I think it’s hard to get this right first time, as you don’t really know what you want yourself. But now I know that I hate chewing gum, tolerate lateness, and am indifferent to coats.

When teaching maths I intend to be a lot more didactic. So far I’ve taken a fairly laissez-faire attitude, allowing pupils to solve problems in their own way, writing down whatever working they feel is necessary (usually none). I did this partly to encourage creative thinking, and partly as I wasn’t confident enough to impose a single method on the whole class. But despite the mantra of high expectations for all learners, I now think it’s best to give students a very simple foolproof method that they can all do, and next year I’ll get my pupils more tightly drilled.

Moving on

As for what I could have done to improve my chances of getting a good job after the probation year, I’m feeling rather cynical. In Glasgow, at least, your future is 60% determined by a 20-minute interview on CfE principles, with no attempt to capture how well you’ve taught your subject (you are specifically advised not to talk about your own subject). I’ve learned a huge amount from my colleagues this year, but I don’t think they would even be employed through the current system.

Finally, in terms of relationships with the kids I think I’ve got the balance about right. I’m on friendly terms with most of my pupils but refuse to give anyone a high five.

Read Daniel's other blog entries on In2Teaching: