I haven’t written much recently about what I’d been doing in school, so here’s a few edited highlights:
Monday – A bit of teaching (scale drawings & bearings with Year 8, hypothesis testing with the Upper Sixth Further Maths). Three mock interviews – one for Medicine at Kings (which tends to be largely personal statement/understanding of medical issues based), one for Medicine at Oxford (almost all chemistry/ biochemistry/biology based, testing their ability to think through new problems and unfamiliar areas) and one for Human Sciences at Oxford, which is an interesting sounding degree course covering topics from evolution to demographics. A department meeting mainly discussing routine matters. A free spent sorting out questions for other mock interviews. Engineering Club at lunchtime (testing our designs of boats under load using the physics department’s ripple tank).
Tuesday was rather unusual/exciting as the Upper Sixth’s Charity Week had started, when all sorts of bizarre things go on round school to raise money. Today was fancy dress – our making fools of ourselves always is an excellent fundraiser! The Upper Sixth themselves were also dressed up in a variety of bizarre costumes, from Pac-Man (accompanied by ghosts) to a set of Crayolas to SpongeBob. One of them was dressed as a Periodic Table (yes she is going to do chemistry at university) – it’s at moments like that I really love the school – both pupils and teachers can be completely unashamed geeks!
Since it was Christmas themed for staff, I used my Christmas Pudding costume again – colleagues sported outfits varying from a Christmas tree with lights and baubles, a snowman with a genuine carrot for a nose, several elves and Santas, and best of all, the Ghost of Christmas Present, who was dressed up as a ghost (and making suitable sound effects) while encased in a giant wrapped present! The Head was a Fairy Godmother, and played up to this wonderfully in assembly.
Of course, it was a day when I had a lot of teaching! Teaching correlations to psychologists and equations of circles to Lower Sixth Further Mathematicians while encased in a pudding was inevitably rather surreal. My double Upper Sixth mechanics lesson, with us all dressed up, understandably didn’t involve quite as much work getting done as normal (though plenty of cake was eaten), but the others actually all worked surprisingly well. Probably the most bizarre thing was the mock interview at break – the interview candidate was also in fancy dress – can you imagine a Christmas pudding interviewing the Statue of Liberty for a place at medical school?
On Wednesday, the morning was taken up with our running a “Maths Fun Morning” for local primary schools – they go round a circus of activities, which this time included a mathematical treasure hunt, mathematical strategy games, codes, and an introduction to binary. I really do not know how primary school teachers do it – although the children were (by and large) delightful, I felt absolutely shattered at the end of it! Of course the classes I normally teach in the morning had to be covered (cover work to set in advance – when I’m sensible, I avoid it being anything I have to mark!). Then two more mock interviews (Law and Engineering).
Thursday was a comparatively normal day. I have the same maths classes on Thursday that I do on Tuesday. Took Year 8 into the ICT room to practise their work on scales on a useful maths website called Manga High. It’s great – they get really into it and want to gain a “medal” – they do far more questions on there, quite happily, than they’d do if they had to write them all in their books. More mock interviews – second interviews for both as they wanted more practice – another Law (but I had to use different questions from yesterday, as she’d had those in her first one) and a Maths (you’d think doing a mock interview for my own subject would necessarily be easier, wouldn’t you? But it isn’t – as coming up with interesting problems that (a) a well-read and curious candidate hasn’t seen, (b) are genuinely demanding but not impossible and rely on AS knowledge and (c) are not the same ones I asked last time, does take time.)
Much of Friday was fairly normal – but lunchtime brought more ritual humiliation in the name of charity – a number of us had agreed to appear in a version of “Family Fortunes”. For some reason the Upper Sixth had decided I was captain of one of the teams, so also had to attempt to be vaguely amusing/witty, which is really asking a bit much by Friday at this stage in the term!
Weekend? Well, collapsing in a heap sounds a good plan – but I’m off out tomorrow, and I guess I’d better get some marking done sometime!