A Students Journal of their experience in MFL Teaching

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After finishing my PGCE I was contacted by my previous school with a MFL teaching position I accepted this and started from July 2009 to aid the school's last few weeks. Al Jamiah Al Islamiyyah School is in a multicultural and diverse community area in Bolton and is an independent school providing boarding facilities for some distant pupils. The policies and running of the school is very different to that of a state school therefore it would provide me a rich experience of learning through my career. The school accommodates nearly 400 pupils a few of which are college students who attend courses provide by Preston College. I started my NQT year from September 2009 with Bolton LEA and set my NQT targets from the CEPD transition point two. Initially I felt this would give me enhanced exposure to the vast expertise within the education system. Being an independent charity school, I was fully aware of and committed to the future challenges regarding resources, funding and teaching salary.

Term 1:

At the start of the NQT year, I set my term targets mainly on full awareness of the school policies, behaviour management, building scheme of works and setting objectives for pupil's achievement etc. During the first few weeks, I noted that the school did not have any form of recognition system or reward scheme and the main focus was on punishing for misbehaviour or not learning. I also realised the importance of building positive relationship between teacher and pupils as well as with the parents. I therefore tried motivating pupils through various strategies such as encouragement and reward schemes. I was given the responsibility of being a form tutor to a demanding group of year 7 pupils (EAL/SEN) upon my request as I like challenges. As Wolfgang (2001/21) states: "the right of the teacher to teach and the right of the teacher to expect students to obey". As a result I tried various behaviour management strategies such as encouragement and motivation through recognition certificates, stickers, points, behaviour monitoring sheets with daily quotations to improve individual behaviour skills. Through these techniques the behaviour and learning of the whole class was improved which was evident from the principal's certificates to the classroom. The scheme of work was very delicate and problematic because of the lack of resources and religious issues regarding pictures, music and videos. I started building units into the scheme of work through the negotiation and suggestions of the principal and other teachers. For these reasons, an overview of all the units was created throughout all years with progression in mind.

Knowledge of the very subject I was teaching had been important for me because it allowed me to communicate with pupils who had interests in the subject and created a link to something the pupils could relate to on a day to day basis. For example when teaching the lesson on personal information I used a interview based role play involving a famous footballer and journalist or President Obama and a journalist. This helped me to introduce extension sentences with the pupils as well as given pupils more in depth knowledge in giving personal information in Urdu. It is also important that in lessons pupils are made responsible for their learning just as much as a teacher has responsibility in guiding them. Any feelings, attitudes and behaviour that are reflected by the teacher to the pupils are almost certainly reflected back by pupils. Teachers are responsible for the learning and development of a pupil's education. Before starting my induction my mentor had emphasised that there should be a friendly and respectful relationship between pupils and teacher and if the teacher fails to have control on their learning then the pupils would then lose their rightful rights of learning and the future of pupils would be in risk.

Throughout the first term it was made clear by the Induction tutor that setting clear objectives for pupil achievements within SOW and lessons are catered. Pupils were made sure that they show clear indications towards lesson objectives through outcomes, formal and informal assessments to record pupils progression according to their abilities or levels. This gave me an idea of how a pupil had gone wrong in their learning and what possible strategies I could include in my lessons to help raise achievement.

Term 2:

During the second term I continued from where I left of in the first term and started working on the behaviour management techniques in promoting better behaviour within the school but especially in classes. For this reason I contacted the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) who provided free resources for day to day core issues such bullying, managing anger, weapons in school and effective verbal interventions. These all helped me and my colleagues in implementing the school behaviour policies effectively. Liaising with parents has had the most impact on me and my teaching due to the fact that parents have an expectancy on the teachers and school just as much as they have on their child. It was interesting to see what importance parents have of their child's education. I had the opportunity to build a rapport with the parents and to share ideas, interests and goals in terms of pupils' achievements in MFL. Bridges between parent and teacher are very important as they both share common goals in terms of pupil achievement. Also parents get the opportunity to become more acquainted with the school and are made to feel at ease about their child's education. Both teacher and parents can set new objectives/ aims/ targets in terms of pupil achievement. The effort levels at home and school can be increased to eventually allow the pupil to take hold of the importance of their own education.

During the second term I had the opportunity to train and mentor a PGCE trainee in MFL who came for his initial and developmental placements. Mentoring is about creating ways of building on critical conversations so that the valuing of experimentation, risk-taking and learning through experience. This helped me in evaluating my own teaching in a friendly but constructive environment as I had to be an example in accord with providing a model for students of teaching to observe, critique, use as a source of actions ad solutions and generally to compare and contrast views and practices of teaching. Also there were the factors such as practice focused discussions, structuring the context, emotional support and devising learning experiences. Also there were opportunities to analyse and reflect on good practice and comparison of own practice with others.

According to Jayne Owen, "CPD is the lifeblood of employability and employee engagement". As CPD is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth. I attended several CPD courses and training sessions for teachers and mentors during the second term. In the past year a number of changes were made to the examination systems for MFL therefore in order to be confident and credible; I attended CPD for GCSE and GCE exam specifications for all the major exam boards. The other CPD courses that I have attended were the use of films, art and sciences within MFL which have helped with enhancing my understanding within the MFL teaching.

During the second term I was given the responsibility of heading the Humanities department where I prepared the Scheme of Work for geography and history. It was a huge task and I had to read through the different SOWs, levels and resources so that I could formulise the best for my department and school. This all gave me an opportunity to develop my skills within the administration as well as in other subjects in terms of teaching. There was an OFSTED inspection during the second term and was given satisfactory to good within the planning and teaching through an overall team effort.

Term 3:

For the third term, my induction tutor had asked me work on assessment and behaviour management of the core standards. In the past not much emphasis was given to MFL and the results were not up to the mark and calibre of pupils. For this reason in the third term I kept on working on the use of previous attainment targets to set the appropriate expectations. As a result I recorded the pupil's current achievements within all form of assessments and then compared them with previous attainment data including local and national data. I adopted several strategies and techniques such as coded marking of pupils books, self or peer marking, positive constructive feedback and recognition through awards.

It is essential to create a better working environment within the institution where you are working in which everyone works through cooperation and collaboration. I created opportunities for other staff to improve their professional skills through regular bulletins and literature. Marking and assessment plays an important role within the success of teaching and planning, but a standard uniform method of marking and assessing pupils was lacking within the school. As a result I wanted to create a system which would also lessen the burden of teachers through coded assessment techniques as well better self awareness amongst pupils. Therefore I had devised a behaviour management and learning and assessment system called BEICH system (behaviour, effort, input/contribution, class work and homework). This system helped me in delivering the best of the attributes to the colleagues and pupils as well. There was a full structured system which would provide a systematic marking/assessment and feedback to pupils by the teachers eventually giving rise to self awareness among pupils. I also initiated weekly and monthly prizes for best learning and behaviours because it injected an element of fun, enjoyable, focused learning and answering questions rather than disputing. (Wallace 2007).

A collaborative project might involve planning a scheme of work drafting a policy or writing a book therefore during the last term I paid more importance to the overall preparation for the GCSE exams and planned mock tests and exam awareness classes with other colleagues through cooperation and collaboration. According to Krashen, 'Even meaningful and communicative drills may have their limitations however'...'Perhaps the correct generalisation is that the best activities are those that are natural, interesting, and understood.' (Krashen 1981:104), therefore short, meaningful and prompt GCSE mock exam techniques were used. Also cooperation is all about pulling weight, helping to achieve our common goals which are usually about helping learners to achieve their goals. The results from the mock GCSE exams were then compared with the previous results and individual feedback was given to promote and enhance their leaning and achievements.

During the third term I attended several CPD courses in order to enhance my teaching and learning skills. I attended mentor enhancement training which was aimed at promoting better learning support for new trainees as well as mentors. During the third term, I conducted listening exam for MFL at a local state school which helped me gain firsthand knowledge of exam techniques and expertise. Only one in five new teachers feels they are getting the right kind of professional development during their early years in the classroom, according to a 2006 survey for the General Teaching Council for England.

During the last term with the permission of induction tutor, I had the opportunity to teach in a state school on a part time loan basis for couple of weeks this enabled me to develop and enhance my teaching skills. There I was asked to produce medium term planning for 4 weeks and planned lessons for all the classes with regular observations. It improved my ICT skills through the use of interactive white boards (IWB) that covered one of the core standards.

At the end of the last term and NQT, I was been given the opportunity to reflect upon my whole year during my final meeting. My tutor congratulated me upon completing my NQT year and gave me feedback upon my personal and professional achievements which I achieved through out by building good relationship with pupils and colleagues. There were some recommendations regarding behaviour management (lenient with the pupils at sometimes) and continuing professional development. I would like to develop more MFL resources for the Urdu especially electronically which would enhance its charm amongst the new learners. I would like to build professional attributes within the administrative side of school.