This may not immediately spring to mind as a 'touch of magic' if you are thinking along the lines of a singing and dancing kind of lesson. 'Golden time,' is the term given in some primary schools as a session set aside as a reward for deserving pupils who are able to play computer games or watch a movie etc. As a high school teacher I use the phrase in relation to 'silence is golden.' I call for a 10 minute interval of silence in most lessons. During this time pupils are not able to speak to one another or even ask me questions. This time is set usually 5 minutes into a written task. By this time, pupils have had a think about what they have been asked to do and are ready to settle and get on with it. However, friends, disruptive peers etc. make it difficult to concentrate. Although pupils will not admit it openly, they actually appreciate 'Golden Time,' as it gives them a chance to get their friends to stop bothering them without them having to tell them that they actually want to get on with their work!- that would be uncool.
Golden Time is a touch of magic because it gives every pupil the right to work undisturbed, it gives the teacher 10 minutes of peace as well as the opportunity to see what each pupil is doing without being constantly badgered. It also looks great when other members of staff pop their head around the door and are amazed that the supply teacher has everything under control and the kids in the palm of her hands. I've often felt like Mary Poppins at this point!
I stress to the pupils that Golden Time is not a punishment, it is an opportunity to get the juices flowing without being hindered, and it’s a way of speeding up the completion of work in a short amount of time, especially if they are 50 minute lessons. It must be sold to the pupils positively and as an expectation not a request. It is also a chance for pupils to develop self-control as well as respect for other people's right to work in an atmosphere conducive to learning.
I give pupils the chance to ask questions before Golden Time to ensure that they are not sitting there frustrated and in need of help during the 10 minutes but I do make it clear to them that if they have a problem during Golden Time, they need to use their initiative and move onto something else rather than sitting their wasting time. If they were allowed to talk to me, then the whole 10 minutes would be filled with endless questions just so they could speak! This defeats the purpose.
So there you have it- wow, the permanent teachers who walk past enviously as you parade the aisles of your room in silence.
How to add a kind of magic to lessons?
I’ve work as a secondary supply teacher for about 18 months. My tip on creating a kind of magic would be that whatever the subject I'm teaching I try to address the pupils by name. This is hard to do on daily supply as sometimes I get to a school ten minutes before the bell, but most schools will give print outs of registers with pictures and it's easy to memorise some names and faces.
All teenagers want to be valued and made to feel that their efforts are noticed by teacher. Praise and encouragement by name, with eye contact is a valuable tool in teaching respect and creating a caring classroom atmosphere.
The secret to adding a bit of magic into a lesson is simple:
Believe in magic yourself.
If you believe that life is full of wonders to be discovered, magical adventures to be had and interesting friends to be made then you will exude this in everything you do.
They say enthusiasm is contagious and children are especially susceptible to catching enthusiasm.
Therefore live everyday as if it's magical and you will turn your class into a fairy land full of fun and learning!
As I read an email telling me about this competition, I was on a bus coming home from work, beside me were some students (from another school) talking about the teachers they are going to have next year. "She is such a bad teacher. She is so boring. She hates life and hates children" complained a young boy. It made me think about what teacher's jobs are all about and how important it is to put that little piece of magic into every lesson. Not for students to like us, but for students to enjoy learning and want to come back the next day for more.
Primarily, I put magic into my lessons by building relationships with my students. They need to know you respect them and they will respect you in return.
It is also key to give a lesson a context, especially a context in which students can relate to. As I started this email I tried to give you some context by telling a story to make the following information meaningful and engaging. I also do this in my lessons to add that little piece of magic and intrigue.
Finally my lessons are all about catering to individual students. I consider their ability, interests and strengths to plan engaging activities that makes learning accessible to everyone.
A little bit of magic goes a long way. It not only helps students to learn but engages their minds and can create a lifelong passion for learning new knowledge and skills.
I only hope that the students on the bus have a teacher next year with a little bit of magic up their sleeve.
Supply teaching – some ideas to make it a special day/time
I have been working as a supply teacher in Early Years for the last half term and try to make my time with the children special and memorable for them, I want to leave a warm, light and positive imprint on the class during my short time as a visitor in the space. I may only meet the class group for one day and I want it to be a positive and enjoyable experience. I have developed a few ideas to bring some magic into the time that I have with the class.
Treasure: I bring a box of treasures with me, which I generally share with the group after we have met and done register, before the session gets going. I tell the children that I have brought something special from home to share with them at the end of the session and I give them some clues – a favourite treasure is a small fossil. I introduce it: “It’s something very old – 400 million years old! Its tiny and someone found it on a beach” I have had some good guesses “a chocolate, a mouse, a fish, a biscuit...” Often, throughout the session, the children will remind me about the treasure, ask what it is... At the end of the session, seated together, the treasure box is opened and the treasure handed round, in one session children chose to make a wish whilst they were handling the fossil. Other treasures that I have brought in are
A tiny dragon, a tiny tea set, sparkly beads, a bag of stars, a torch, tiny mirror in a box, a compass. Charity shops are great places for developing treasure boxes. I have an assortment of boxes and bits of treasure to explore and handle as a stimulus for talk and interest.
Special stories Doing supply you have to get to understand routines, names etc. very quickly. I have a small book and a special pen, which I take with me and start a new page for each supply session. I tell the children that I am writing down the date and the class on a new page and I am going to write down all good things that I notice in the session and share it at the end with children and the teacher. I explain that I am going to write down when I see children helping each other or helping me, trying hard with their work and anything interesting or exciting that I notice. I don’t always get to share it with the children but I copy the information for the teachers who can use it in their records. It’s very positive and specific and I try to include as many names as possible, just small events such as “I saw Adam making a sand castle, Phoebe helped put the lids on the pens..’ children like to be reminded of what they did and hear it celebrated. Sometimes I invite children to add in their own words and ideas throughout the session
Music and songs and stories are inclusive and invite all children in to a shared time, children can engage at different levels, from the shy children to the most confident all can be involved. I have my guitar in the car with me and offer to do a singing session, I often teach children a new song or rhyme that they can share, I take a favourites story or story sack for telling or reading with me. Developing a selection of stories for telling and props is a good idea. I would be interested to know what other people do out there in the world of supply teaching...