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Extra curricular activities

Dionne Doherty explains why she found getting involved in extra curricular activities can help you to get to know your pupils better.

No time

If you're like me, your teaching placements whilst at university will have been spent saying "yes" to helping out at every concert, sporting event, parents' evening and lunchtime club possible. Then, at the start of your probation year, these things disappear to the back of your mind, as you start to worry about how you're going to manage to do everything that comes with teaching your own classes, undertaking CPD and of course, completing your online profile!

It's worth the effort

However, extra-curricular activities make up a vital component of school life, and there is an expectation that probationers will get involved, or even take on the running of such activities. You should never underestimate how much the effort you put into this area will be appreciated by your pupils, and there are many benefits for you personally, too.

Getting to know your pupils

You may not be particularly sporty - and I can assure you, neither am I - but give that after-school sports club a chance at least once. Netball was most definitely my least favourite sport at school, but after a bit of cajoling from one of my fellow probationers, I went along to Practice one Friday afternoon (how's that for dedication?), and actually found myself having a really good time. I'm still hopeless at netball, but I enjoy the chance to get to know my pupils in a non-classroom context - and I can always remind them of my perseverance at practice when faced with the old "but I'm rubbish at this!" excuses in the classroom!

Running a lunchtime club

Running a lunchtime club is another option. For me, it was the lunchtime Writers' Club. We ended up producing a school magazine for a competition, which turned out to be no mean feat! Lunchtime clubs can often eat into time beyond lunch, as I found at 2am one morning, whilst pleading with my printer to finish its run so that I could post our entry in time for the deadline! However, when I see how much enjoyment and confidence the pupils get out of working together and seeing their work in print, it's worth the added effort for me.

Support your school

Extra-curricular activities are your chance to get involved outside of your classroom. Sometimes, after a long day, all you will want to do is slope off home and melt into the couch, but rest assured that committing some of your own time to supporting your school pays off. Pupils will see you in a whole new light, you'll get the chance to learn new skills, or even get fit, and most importantly, you'll have plenty to say in those all-important application forms at the end of the year!

Dionne Doherty
Secondary French Teacher
Linwood High School, Linwood