Today saw my first day officially ‘observing’ or as I tend to call it ‘shadowing’.
I had done some shadowing before, in a couple of local secondary schools (one which went up to A-Level) so I thought I knew what to expect but this was my first time ‘observing’ and observing is very different to just watching.
To help us along we are given sheets to structure how and what we observe such as the way communication is used, how the teacher structures the class etc.
Through observing I realised you begin to pick up on the small things for example how the students react to the teacher, their instructions and rules of the classroom, how students take to tasks and I feel as I observe more and become more accustomed to the sheets and more importantly what I should be looking out for, observing could come more naturally.
The classes I sat in were all two hours each and covered different levels of education which as I mentioned in my first post are BTEC qualifications and very different to what I am used to. I was glad to finally be able to be in a position to understand the abilities of the students and what was demanded from them on these courses and I was slightly surprised at the differences.
Two out of the three classes I observed were the same level and even within those classes there was one class that was clearly below the abilities of the other. I was later told this was done on purpose so that the class with the lower ability could have the added help from class aids which made sense to me as with limited resources it seemed sensible to put them all together. I am interested to see how this pans out however as sometimes placing lower ability students together can create a difficult working environment as they can often become reluctant to work and disruptive to other students/ easily disrupted.
This class I noticed did become easily distracted and as the class progressed they slowed in their productivity. This class also needed more help and assistance with the tasks more often but thankfully due to the classes relatively small size the teacher was able to get around to them and conduct one-to-ones more frequently.
I did feel that not giving the students clear time instructions allowed them to ponder on their work and ‘take their time’ however I noticed that some students did seem to take an exceptionally long time to do the task which even for their level I thought should have been easy. A clearer sense of time might have pushed them to keep to task especially as they were required to finish the work outside of class if not completed.
Overall I found my first day quite enlightening, it allowed me to begin my journey though understanding the requirements of the BTEC more fully, understanding class control and the importance of structure to the lesson, As well as seeing how student ability can be drastically different even within the same level and ways to adapt to that.
Obviously there is still a lot to learn, and I will learn a lot from observing different classes and even the same class over a period of time so I look forward to what comes next.