X is for…eXtra help. Sometimes people need a little extra help to learn this. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it can be tricky to learn in a class with 29 other children. This is where private tutors can help. Private tuition is usually for an hour a week, but it can be more or less depending on what your family wants for you. It will probably happen in your own home, where you feel comfortable. It can be short term, just to help you catch up on one or two particular things you missed in school, or longer term if you find lots of things difficult. If you live in north Birmingham you could ask you parents or carers to have a look at my website to see how I could help you. If you live in other parts of the country I may be able to recommend someone, or if not there is always Google.
Manic Monday. Think The Bangles had it right there – Mondays are definitely my most manic day of the week at the moment.
They start too early when the alarm goes off on one side, and my husband shakes me on the other to make sure I don’t ignore the alarm! Then it’s up, showered, dressed, breakfast if I have time and out the door. I get to school, which is in south Birmingham, just in time to check my emails and then over to my House (the House is like a before school social event for the children) to accompany the pupils to chapel.
After chapel, lessons start, but I can’t get into my classroom straight away because it is someone else’s form room so I have to wait until the children have been registered and dismissed. By this time I can enter my first class is already lining up outside so I have to welcome them into the classroom, grab the books from the cupboard to be given out and log on to the computer at the same time.
I have three lessons back to back with three different year groups and two different languages. At last it’s break time, but that’s not a chance to catch my breath – that’s time to pick up pen and paper and head over to the main building for a staff meeting.
Lunchtimes on a Monday are a rush too – shorter for me on Mondays than on the other days of the week because I teach infants straight after their lunch on a Monday, but theirs begins earlier than ours so their lessons start half an hour earlier in the afternoon.
Thankfully I have a free period at the end of the day so I can begin marking, but straight after work I head back to north Birmingham to begin my other job as a private tutor – I don’t even have time to go home first. Two hours of tutoring later and I’m off to my adult education class. By the time I get there the class is well under way so I offer my apologies and take my seat.
Thirteen and a half hours after leaving my home, I walk back through my front door. Just time to think about an evening meal, washing up and feeding my pets before collapsing into bed.
Thank goodness Mondays only happen once a week!
To find out more about my work, visit my website www.sjbteaching.com.
It’s a question I’ve often asked myself when I’ve read children’s work and seen capital letters in the middle of sentences; lines and lines of writing without a full stop, and then a random one placed for no apparent reason; and exclamation marks in the middle of instructions. So why do they do that? For the last two years I have been lucky enough to be contracted for 1-2-1 tuition with a number of children. By working so closely with them I have gained an insight into how their minds work when they are writing, and some of life’s great mysteries have been revealed.
Let’s start with capitalisation in the middle of sentences. What’s that all about then? “Miss told us that names have to start with capital letters,” they told me when I asked. And “apple” is the name of a fruit, and “oak” is the name of a tree. Unfortunately, somewhere down the school they were also told that nouns are naming words (yes, I know, I think I’ve been guilty of that one as well), so now every noun has a capital letter.
How about full stops? I’ve been that teacher that nags the class “Don’t forget to put full stops at the end of every sentence!” and I know I’m not the only one. When I’ve asked the children I’ve been tutoring what they know about full stops, they happily parrot, “You have to put one at the end of every sentence.” They know. So why don’t they do it? Because it seems, a lot of children have no idea what a sentence is. So they just keep on writing till they have no more ideas, and then put a full stop. Then when they think of a new idea, they start a new sentence.
What about those exclamation marks that appear at the end of sentences such as, “First, take the bread out of the packet! Next, get the butter out of the fridge!”? I was baffled when I first asked a child, whose writing target was to use exclamation marks correctly, when he thought he should use them and he told me that you had to use them every time you were telling somebody how to do something. It seems he thought it was called an explanation mark! And he’s not alone. I’ve tutored 3 children of different ages from different schools who all thought the same things, so it’s obviously a fairly common misconception.
All these things are really easy to correct when you have time to work one-to-one with the children – but not so easy when you have 29 other children needing your attention, because no matter how much you want to you just don’t have time to spend half an hour with one child. That’s why I really love my job.
How many people get to pick and choose the parts of the job they enjoy and not have to do the rest? Not many, but I’m one of the lucky ones. This year I have spent a big proportion of my week teaching languages which is my biggest passion. I’ve done mostly French, but also some Spanish, German, Latin, BSL, Maori, Italian and Portuguese. I felt really proud when one of my year 1 children sang a Latin solo in the Christmas play!
I’ve also undertaken a lot of 1-2-1 tuition, which I’ve really enjoyed. I feel very privileged to have been able to spend time working closely with under-achieving children in several schools, watching them grow in confidence as they realise that they can do it, and then watching them really take-off when they realise they can do it on their own.
And I’ve had all the fun of working on themed days. This term we had a water themed day (maths: how much water could you save in a year by showering for 1 minute less each day; English: debating whether or not water should be free; geography/PSHE: looking at countries where people don’t have access to clean water) and a 1960s day.
I don’t know yet what September holds, but I’m sure that whatever I do I’m going to love every minute just as much as I have this year.