Week 3 – Mindset

This week has been an extremely busy week for me. Everything seemed to come all at once. It does’t help that my timetable this year is pretty heavy and my free lessons are not the best placed. I started the week with 2 free lessons on Monday morning, I then didn’t get my next free until P3 on Friday. In between I had 2 assemblies, 3 lunch time clubs, a netball fixture, an after school club and a parents evening. That’s not including 3 evening training sessions and one evening of assembly planning and BTEC research. So as you can understand I was pretty busy and I am thankful for a day off today.

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What I would like to focus on this week is Mindset. I am head of the Challenger house at school. This requires me to lead assemblies once a half term to the pupils in my house. I decided to give some responsibility to the pupil heads of house who are in Year 11 to lead some of the assembly. They were great and think they enjoyed the experience. I ended the assembly with some information on Mindset. This is a set of beliefs or a way of thinking. When I read ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck, it got me thinking about the children I teach at school and where they fit in. Dweck talks about two different types of mindset. One of these is fixed and one of these is growth.

Below you can see the traits that come with each one.

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So people who have a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence, their basic abilities, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that. They then try to look smart and don’t like to look ‘dumb’.  In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. The don’t believe that everyone is the same but that people can adapt and improve by working hard.

Fixed mindset people tend to avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as fruitless, ignore useful criticism and are threatened by the success of others. Whereas growth mindset people tend to embrace challenges, show persistence in the face of setbacks, see effort as essential to anything, learn from criticism and find lessons in inspiration and the success of others. I believe I have a growth mindset. Ever since I have been a child, I have always wanted to improve and better myself and do what I need to succeed. As I have become older, I feel this has only gotten stronger. Now, as a teacher, I want to be the best teacher I can. Not for my benefit, but because I want to inspire the pupils to believe that they can achieve, no matter how much they put themselves down.

When I shared these views in assembly, I wanted to get the children to consider where they fell. That if they believed they had a fixed mindset, then it can be changed or developed. All it takes is time and self belief. They need to start believing they can do it, that the voices telling them they can’t are a reflection of their choice. It is surprising how many children lack the confidence they need. Even this week I chatted to a pupil and a parent about having more belief. Belief that just because she isn’t as experienced as other members in the group, she can still achieve the same grade if she works hard. It is now my mission to ensure the pupils consider how their mind works. That by changing their mindset, they could potentially change their life. Making decisions now, can have a big impact over the next few years. Maybe it is time we included some basic Psychology in PSHE lessons to raise self esteem. Could have a very positive impact.

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My last question for yours…..Where do you fall? Which one are you? Remember, failure doesn’t mean you haven’t achieved, it just means you have to try harder. The only failure is giving up. Think outside the box. If you always do what you have always done, then you’ll always get the same outcome.

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Week 2 – Tough Young Teachers

So, I am finding it pretty hard to be able to blog every week. I don’t know how teachers manage it daily or weekly. Although, they may not have so many commitments outside of teaching too. But….here it is my second blog of 2014. I caught up last week on episode 1 and 2 of Tough Young Teachers on BBC3. It is a very accurate insight as to what goes on in most schools and it portrays how hard it can be when you get started. Below are the 6 young teachers that feature on the programme.

These young teachers are graduates of top universities and have been put on a ‘fast track’ with Teach First. After just 6 weeks training they are put into schools to teach their subject. It was evident from the start that they have a lot to learn. It is not easy after a year of teaching placements to go into a new career and try to make a difference, let alone after just 6 weeks. It did however, give me a chance to reflect on my experience in teaching so far.

I am in my fourth year and I am still learning new things and new ways of dealing with issues. I want to become the best teacher I can and I am always willing to learn to enable me to help the pupils. I got in to teaching because I wanted to help children achieve their potential, I understand that this is different for each individual and that it is not always possible to help all of them. Some get lost along the way due to personal reasons and lack of effort. I think many teachers will agree with me when I say it is almost impossible to do this when some kids don’t want to be helped (not though lack of trying). There are times when you can spend too much time with pupils that either misbehave or just don’t care that the ones that really need it or are struggling possibly get left behind. What made me laugh was when of the young teachers said “All of you are capable of an A*” this was immediately setting herself up to fail. There are times when it is a real achievement for some children to even scrape a D or a C. It is a great feeling when they are pleased with what they have achieved and knowing that you have helped. So for her to say that it was pretty ambitious.

Another thing about this programme that made me reflect on my own teaching was when one of the pupils Charles was teaching said “Respect is earned.” This made me think about my toughest group when I started teaching. A year 11 girls group who basically didn’t want to do anything. It took me until the February half term to win them over. Balancing and building the relationships with pupils is really hard and there is a very fine line. Sometimes they will take advantage if you let them get away with stuff, and other times they will point blank refuse to do things if you are too harsh straight away. It is something I feel I have improved as a teacher in the last few years. The pupils I teach are now pretty much where I want them. Experience in schools is vital to develop teachers. I really feel even the best graduates should go through a proper teaching qualification with placements before being thrown in at the deep end. We have already witnessed the lack of behaviour management going on and how difficult it is. Having a teacher observe you and support you is important. You then have other people to learn from too.

I do like this programme though and I am looking forward to episode 3. It’s great for the public to see what teachers actually have to put up with.

Week 1 in 2014 – The life of a PE teacher

So we are one week into 2014 and this is my first blog of the new year. I thought I would start this year writing weekly blogs on what I encounter both as a PE teacher and in my personal life. I spent the first few days of 2014 doing the usual, eating healthy and exercising to get myself prepared for the new challenge that 2014 brings me on a personal level. As you may or may not know I play football for Yeovil Town Ladies. We are embarking on a new adventure this year in The FA Women’s Super League 2. This is an exciting opportunity but I know it will be a huge challenge juggling my time for work and ensuring I am in the best shape possible for this higher level of competition. It is of course, a challenge which I will give my all. 

I also spent a day or so doing extra planning ready for the new term. Anyone who knows me will understand that I am organised. I believe there should be a definite balance between work and life so I always make sure I am pretty much organised for the new term before the old one finishes. I know it is probably easier for me than most as I teach PE so the marking load is a lot lighter but for any teacher I believe they need to make time for family and friends and spend less time working at home (easier said than done I know).

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The first week back at school after a 2 week break is always tiring. I have been planning on setting up primary school support with the PE department in my school. The aim is to support local primary school PE to help the children get a more varied experience of PE but also to support the primary school teachers with their delivery. Giving them ideas they can take into lessons with all of their staff and pupils. It is something I feel strongly about, especially as 95% of neurological development takes place before the age of 10. It is important that children are taught skills right so once they pass the age of 10 they have the skills to cope with further demands of sport. This will also help increase their confidence and social skills in secondary PE. If we can get Primary PE at a higher level then it will have a huge knock on effect later in life. Well in theory anyway. Will keep you posted on how this goes. 

Although I teach PE full time, I also have to manage work commitments with my personal ones. I train 2 evenings a week and a Sunday with the squad and also then have to fit in 3 other gym sessions a week to ensure I am fit enough for football. In addition to this, I am also a qualified referee and have been refereeing men’s matches for the past year. This is something I really enjoy. It is sometimes extremely hard to juggle of of this with a hectic work schedule. But, I really enjoy being busy and doing as much as I can to help the students. I am still running the boot camp this year. It was very successful for the last two terms so decided to extend it to benefit the fitness of the pupils involved. I would love to run it all year long to help pupils understand that a healthy lifestyle isn’t a short term goal. It needs to be a longer term target and needs to be maintained. This will start again next week and I am looking forward to the positivity the project will bring. 

So that sums up the start to my 2014. It will be a busy one with 3 exam groups and the new WSL2 but a year I am very much looking forward to. I am now off to do some marking. 

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