Working to the Students needs?

Today was a day where the student and their needs seemed to be a difficult choice to make. The groups that I deal with both had a deadline for a project which was stressing them to considerable degrees; some claimed not to know that the deadline was today while others complained that it had been changed which was causing the stress. The topic of this Unit was visual studies, including perspective, architecture and colour theory – the perspective and architecture were two topics they all claimed to have disliked and all (apart from three students) had a considerable amount of work to do.

This created my first issue of the day as before my 9am class had even started I had students begging to do their visual studies work in the two hour session. In the end I made the students have the introduction to my class and then allowed them to do their visual studies work as I had scheduled roughly 95 minutes of the 120 minute lesson to book work anyway (though for a different Unit). I decided this because with the deadline at the end of the day I knew many students would not be able to focus but felt they still needed some of a class to their current Unit as my session was designed to help them think of ideas for this project which they are currently struggling with and I did not want them to continue the week with no ideas.

A massive problem for these groups seems to be doing the work on time and I partly feel this is because the students do not get enough timetabled time – they get 10 hours a week, currently split over three units (one unit is recommended to get 60 guided learning hours in total)  but also that they are not working effectively, they get tired and fed-up easily so do not use the time they do have to the best, often stating that they will do it at home which most of them are unable to do really. This causes a problem for me because I feel they should have more time in college to do the work but that at the same time the students are not getting the idea yet that it is their fault for not being productive in the time they do have which is very immature of them.

This mood of wanting to get on with visual studies continued on to the second period, still with my morning group but this time they were taking part in the college ‘Have a Go’ week which is different departments showing examples of what they do in the main reception . Today was the turn of the art and design group which happened to be my two groups. This meant that the time my AM group were typically in class they were taking part in mono-printing. For this group however this technique works to a unit they are currently working on and so despite them complaining they did all take part for the first hour… after that though they all switched off and did not want to be there. Stuck with just me I tried for the next half hour to get the group continuing to do designs and work but I could easily see that if they were doing this task in a classroom that we would have moved on and felt it was unfair on these students that they should spent two hours on this task while they should be doing work for their course.

In time they were allowed to go on their lunch break early (after checking with a more senior member of staff) however I felt let down by the college and tutors that I had no other choice but to attempt to encourage the students in the task even though they had done what was asked of them, as I couldn’t leave all of the materials in the reception area or leave the students as there was no one else!

Moving on to my second group and PM session, this group was also supposed to be doing Mono-printing but most had already done it for their project as this group have dedicated print classes so were set against doing it again with the impending deadline of their visual studies. This time however with more staff now available it was deemed that those students who had examples of mono-print in their books could be in the classroom with me continuing work which apart from some classroom behaviour issues which I felt I tackled better than I would have previously (trying to keep in mind recent observation feedback to be more assertive) they then got on with their work surprisingly well.

 

What bothered me the most about today was this insistence on this ‘Have a Go’ week; I saw little in how it helped the students (or even the college) and how out of all the students around why it had to be the students with a deadline that day.

Other outside influences caused the lack of staff in the morning which impeded being able to split the class but I also felt that two hours was far too long on and the length of time students were doing the mono-print activity should have been considered.  This made me feel that whoever had planned this all was not thinking of the students needs, the thing we are always thought to consider and that as a trainee I felt I had failed them in a way by not being able to help them when usually we could have.

I also felt in two minds however as, like I mentioned, these students have always struggled to get work done on time and that if they had got their work done then the mono-print activity should not have been a issue. I was also annoyed at how the students could not just sit and do the printing! Why was it such a big deal that they had to play around with drawing designs, printing them and printing them onto Bags, it was as if one drawing, one print was enough for them! They’re supposed to be art and design students! They’re supposed to play around with new techniques and methods but it was one go, don’t like it, not doing it again with them which really annoyed me as I am slowly getting more annoyed with the students ‘can’t do attitude’ when things are hard or do not go right the first time no matter how many times I tell them it will only get easier the more they do it and it doesn’t matter if it goes wrong just tell me why it went wrong!

 

Either way today felt like a lot of work… and I don’t know how I feel about it really.

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