Wednesday 12 October 2016

Scenes from the Classroom #24

It has been interesting to transition from a school where I worked for 13 years to a new school with a very different student demographic. Not as difficult as I had feared - I haven't needed to spend time (yet) establishing myself because I just behave as though I have always worked there and seem to get away with it.

An interesting difference is in the low-level disruption, and I think it is created by the fact the classroom is now all girls instead of mixed gender. Mixed gender low-level disruption looks like:
  • Swinging on chairs
  • Doing something non-specific with compass/calculator/other equipment
  • Bottle flipping (the latest craze)
  • Fiddling with uniform
  • Chatting
  • Yawning, sneezing or coughing loudly
  • Drumming on desk
Only the uniform continues to be an issue for me. Most of the chatting so far has been about the work (!!)

However, there is a whole new problem that I am going to call, excessive neatness. You may be familiar with the stereotypical girl: likes things to be neat so, like a medieval monk working on a biblical manuscript, starts again if she makes a mistake. I can report that this is more than just a stereotype. The desire to be neat and tidy must be responsible for more lost learning minutes in a day than any other behaviour. It manifests itself thus:
  • Painstakingly cutting, or tearing with the aid of a ruler, the edges off of worksheets and stick-ins until there is no white border and they fit perfectly (but then, paradoxically, sweeping the rubbish straight onto the floor)
  • Using several different colours, or..
  • Being unable to write because of not having the right shade of blue pen
  • Refusing to write down the 'copy and correct' starter until it has been corrected, thus making the starter twice as long as it should be
  • Being reluctant to let me mark the book
  • Tearing pages out and starting again
Thus, I had this conversation with a Y11 the other day...

Me: *turns around just in time to see D rip a page from her book*
Me: D, there was nothing wrong with that
D: It wasn't neat enough
Me: It was fine, and you've done about 10% of today's work - you muct finish it all or you won't have the right notes
D: I just want to write it out again so it is neat
Me: Please don't do that
D: But...
Me: If you want to write it out again, please do it at home. You must have these notes to revise from. It's more important that you have all the notes than that they look neat
D: But if they're not neat, I won't revise from them.

I do understand the extreme desire to be neat, but this is ridiculous.

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