Is it really only two weeks since half term? It seems a lot longer. For some reason, I always think it’s a relatively quiet time of the year now, but in fact it isn’t.
I’ve got off lightly in some ways. In general there were two sets of full reports to finish off (years 11 and 13) and two sets of progress reports (years 8 and 9) and two parents’ evenings (years 7 and 10) – I’ve only been involved in one of each type of report, and no parents’ evenings, unlike colleagues in some subjects, who’ve copped the lot. But nonetheless, there’s been a fair bit going on.
So what else have I been up to?
I went on a course 10 days ago on how to encourage kids to think. It was a very enjoyable one – lots of discussion, activities, and a very engaging presenter with ideas that actually work. Chatting with colleagues from other schools is always good too. Excellent experience – only downsides were the very long day and having to set cover work. I actually used one of the ideas this week, and it seemed to work well. For some reason, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I’ve offered to run “thinking skills” sessions as part of the Year 7 rotations next year – when will I learn to keep my mouth shut?
We had our entrance exams for potential new sixth-formers – so that was a nice lot of 35 90-minute papers to mark arriving last Monday. We decide based on the exams which ones to interview, so I’ll be spending this coming Monday and Tuesday evening interviewing these kids.
We’ve had the option choices for next year in from Year 9 and Year 11, so we started working on fitting them into option blocks to try to give them their choices. One Year 9 couldn’t be fitted, but fortunately she’d been unsure between two choices anyway, so didn’t mind. Year 11 is a bit more difficult, but we won’t try to finalise anything until we find out about the new entrants.
I’ve been working on putting in the A-level entries on and off for much of the last two weeks too. It’s not difficult, but it does require concentration, so I don’t try to do it all in one go.
Last Monday I went along as a second member of staff to an after-school Chemistry masterclass for Year 10 held at another school in the area. The kids seemed to enjoy it – using the molymod kits, and then actually making nice-smelling compounds – think pear-drops, cinnamon, orange and mint. Interesting conversations with them in the taxi on the way over there, covering chemistry, their hopes for the future and their anxiety about our head retiring!
On Wednesday, the results from the January exams were available to be downloaded for our use only. After downloading them and checking it’s all imported properly (which it usually isn’t – adding some by hand is often needed), there’s a lot of printing off of materials to be given out on Thursday – individual statements to give the kids, summaries for heads of department and analysis for the powers that be. I always have a look through to try to second guess which kids may be upset so we can be ready to try to sort them out.
Thursday – a lot of talking to kids. They have to decide on any retakes for June within a couple of days so I can get those entries in on time, so there’s a lot of them wanting to discuss options. A couple just really wanted to be able to let their feelings out when they were disappointed; others wanted to celebrate (like two of our lower sixth who taught themselves an additional AS module during the first term and got 100 on the exam for it!).
Friday – went to the Parents’ Association evening function (7 – 10 pm). It’s a nice occasion – good food (and plenty of it), competitions, raffle (won a bottle of pink fizz!). Good to have a chance to sit and chat with colleagues, too – we made up a table of staff. (If there aren’t enough staff at that sort of thing, you end up with mixed tables of staff and parents, and while most of the parents are lovely, it does mean everyone feels rather on their guard if that happens.).
This weekend, I need to catch up on my normal marking, and have a few things to sort out prior to the visit of our Dutch and Italian Comenius partners in a week and a half. Better get back to that then!