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Is this really a good idea?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by 911turbo, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. I hope someone will kindly read and answer this as I am feeling rather stressed!
    have been very fortunate to get a job in a college teaching A' level
    (my pgce is post 16) but I am classed as a supply teacher so only
    temporary but to basically help them out of a hole as they couldn't find
    anyone else at such short notice. There is a chance I can be properly
    employed as a full time teacher in September (if I pass the trial period
    I suppose!).
    I only teach two days a week but the problem is this...
    got my degree in 1997 (so a while ago!) and my pgce in the last couple
    of years. All I have really done is teach privately with the job market
    being so bad.
    As you are aware, A' level students are basically at
    revision time now, building up to their exams in the 'summer'. In other
    words, I have to know the syllabus pretty well for both AS and A2 and I
    have no idea how they have been taught; any of the groups that I need
    to teach.
    The sixth form year head is aware of my limited
    experience but I am just beginning to freak out slightly! I have the
    syllabus and even though I know my subject, I do know what they need to
    know but I don't know it if that makes sense! In fact, I'm quite sure
    that if I sat the very same A' level either AS or A2 I would fail!
    have been working really hard, going through everything, getting
    resources together, trying in vain to get facts, studies and figures
    into my brain but I know full well that I just won't know it that well
    by the time they go back in the middle of April. I have to devote all of
    Easter to getting my act together which I don't have a problem with,
    it's just I'm not sure if this is a good idea, if you can appreciate. My
    knowledge will be lacking, no matter how I look at it, and therefore my
    confidence too.
    I like challenges but this one involves trying to know an entire syllabus in two weeks which is obviously impossible.
    terms of what they will be doing first, or revising first, I don't know
    and won't know till I begin so it aint looking too bright :-(
    Any helpful advice would be very much appreciated.

  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Well done for getting a job.
    My advice is to download recent past papers and mark schemes. Go through them, getting a feel for how they set questions, how they word questions, what skills they look for, how those skills have to be applied
    When you meet the students, I would give out some questions (or bits of questions) that you are confident on and get the students to have a go at them, then do some discussion of the question and try to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses.
    I would then give them a print out of the specifications of the exams they are sitting and get them individually to assess the parts of the course as confident, OK but need help, not done / really poor at this. At the end of this, you need a list of the things they don't do well (yet)
    You also need to a get a list of sources of help - useful websites, pages of the textbook, sets of questions to stimulate thought,
    Key thing is to go in confident about what you're going to to do in the first week's lessons, and find ways of assessing (and getting them too assess themselves). You also need to find ways of boosting their confidence in themselves as bright students who can get themselves up to standard and your ability to help them get there.
    Best wishes,
  3. How about this:
    There are probably 3 things you and your pupils may want to do at this stage in the year. Firstly finish off the syllabus, assuming your predecessor has not done that, secondly revise and thirdly get some practise at past papers.
    The first sounds tricky. You will have to get this information from the Head if he/she knows it and also from the pupils. In your first lesson, ask to see the pupils' notes. Borrow a couple of sets for a day & look through them to get a feel for what has or has not been covered. You could also issue the pupils with a copy of the syllabus & get them to come back next lesson having highlighted sections that they feel they want to cover or revise in more detail. After a lesson or two, you should have a feel for where there are gaps in the pupils knowledge or confidence and you can plan lessons to plug these gaps accordingly.
    In the meantime, you still need to make best use of the contact time you have with them. You could use the first couple of lessons (while you sort out the plugging gaps issues) to work through past papers with them. This will also contribute to indicating their low confidence areas. You will need to have done the past papers yourself, before the lesson, so you are not caught on the hop and end up getting flustered (as I do!) in the lesson. I also suggest you have with you (and have read in advance) a copy of the mark scheme AND the examiners report for the papers you do. This last document can be really helpful (in my subject) to highlight the daft and frequent bad responses that pupils write in their A level scripts.
    After a lesson or two of past papers and when you have the information you need, you can plan more targetted revision or coverage of key parts of the syllabus.
    To reassure the pupils, who will be anxious not just about their exams but also about the change of staff at such a late stage you should let them know what your goals are and how you plan to use the lessons between now & their study leave. Be honest about what they can get from you and how you can contribute to their grades (subject knowledge, advice on exam technique, feedback on past paper questions ...). You could even tell them that, after lesson 1 or 2 you will be able to be more specific about what each lesson will cover & that specific requests should be fed in to you for inclusion in the plan.
    At the end of the day, they will be better off having access to you & your lessons than having no teacher for the last few weeks before the exams.
    To improve their confidence in you (and your confidence in yourself) make sure you have the following information at your fingertips for lesson 1:
    * the dates & times of their exams
    * knowledge of the duration of each paper
    * the dates of their study leave
    * the exact number of lessons you will have with them before study leave (bank holidays may interfere)
    * a copy of the syllabus & the text book they are using
    * class sets of 2 past papers (they may have done one already) together with a copy, for you, of the mark scheme & examiner's report
    ...this is what I would do anyway! Hope this helps.
  4. What is your subject? It's difficult to know how to advise you without knowing what subject you are teaching?

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