The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom


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Monday Provocation #13

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This one is not just for inspiring our kids to have a growth mindset….but also for inspiring ourselves!

 

 

 

 

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So I Guess I’m a Primary Teacher Now?

School Newspaper - The Creative Teacher Project

We’re well and truly in the business end of the school year. Term 6 is well under way and I have but 3 and a half weeks left of this academic year. It seemed as good a time as any to reflect on my first year of Primary Teaching. What a year it has been!

  • I have worked an average of 60 hours a week all year.
  • I have got tendonitis in my elbow from too much marking.
  • I have become, rather sadly, entirely dependent on caffeine.

On the plus side, I have also:

  • Taught, quite literally, the loveliest class on Earth. I could not have made it this far without them.
  • Become far and away a better teacher in the last 6 months than in the previous two years.
  • Discovered a new talent of staple gun wielding.
  • Developed a signature ‘Teacher’ look. You know the one. It’s the ‘I-am-not-impressed-right-now’ look. Easily confused with the ‘I’ll-just-wait-here-until-you’re-all-ready-don’t-mind-me-it’s-your-time-you’re-wasting’ look.

I am going to really admit something. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Drama teaching is challenging, extremely challenging in fact, especially when you’re trying to manage and engage 30-odd 14 year olds. But I really had no idea of the rigour required of Primary teachers. The day in, day out grind of their huge workload.

I am just at the beginning of my career. I by no means have the whole ‘teaching’ thing down pat. But I do know this – I have never felt more engaged, more inspired, or more excited by a job that I am by teaching. No job I have tried yet has a better combination of what interests me, what is expected of me, and what I get paid (I am used to working in the arts, so yes, a teacher’s salary is amazing compared to that!).

But….there is still so far to go. I still sometimes struggle to get in all the feedback I want to. I don’t feel like I’ve yet discovered how to delve deeply enough into a topic in a short space of time. It’s still not perfect – but I’m still learning. I’ll always be learning, and perhaps that’s the best part of it all.

I’ve just signed up for the 12 month productivity course The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. I’ve spoken about Angela Watson before, and honestly, her Monday morning podcasts have been the thing that has got me through the more challenging parts of my first year as a primary teacher. I’m ready to commit to changing the way I work, in order to improve my workload, and student outcomes. It should be really interesting. It should also be fun!

I’m looking forward to it, which probably says it all about how I feel about being a primary teacher! I’ve well and truly gone over to the dark side….


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Monday Provocation: A New Beginning!

Summer 2015 The Creative Teacher Project

Quite a bit of change around these parts this year! Not only did I move back to Kent, start my first teaching job in the UK, renovate my house and get married (yay!), I also made a positive but significant career move. Pals, I’m heading back to Primary School!

Something different for today’s Monday Provocation: I’m so happy to announce that I’ll be taking my first Year 4 class, and I truly could not be more excited! It will be a challenge to move from secondary drama teaching to the full spectrum of Primary education, but one that I’m going to tackle with a smile on my face. The team at Wainscott Primary is full of enthusiasm and passion for their jobs and for their students, and are excited by the myriad opportunities that technology can bring to our classrooms.

Does that sound right up my street, or does that sound right up my street? It’s definitely full systems go at The Creative Teacher Project!

I’d also like to take the opportunity to say ‘hello!’ to any of my new parents who have looked up the blog – thank you so much for taking the time to connect! I’d love for you to stick around and comment where you feel inspired to, and to be a part of the wonderful education community that WordPress is now home to. From the bottom of my heart, welcome, and I so look forward to knowing you better as the year progresses!


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New Job Nerves

New Job Nerves The Creative Teacher Project

It’s the tail end of the Easter break, and I have just over a week before I start to teach (for REAL) at my new school.

To be completely honest, the last month or so has been a total roller coaster of emotions, ranging from dancing-down-the-street-with-a-huge-smile happy, to 3am-wake-up-I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this. Right now I feel like I’ve settled into a relatively calm excited-but-a-little-nervous. I can work with that.

I’ve found myself in a reflective mood, and I’ve got to thinking about my time in secondary school. Some of my new students will be gearing up for their exams not long after I start, and I can so clearly remember the emotions of that time. They’re pretty much exactly how I’m feeling now. Change is scary.

New challenges are on the horizon, and if I take a deep breath, relax, and use the time I have to get so organised that I barely recognise myself, then I’ll be fine.On the off chance that any of you out there are about to take exams, I gently recommend you do the same.

Remember – one day, when you’re older and greyer, you’ll look back at this time and think “Hey I’ve done this before, I can do it again”. So let’s do it, bigger and better than ever.

Wish me luck!


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The National Theatre Drama Teacher’s Conference 2015: Day Two Recap

Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 1
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 2
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 3
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 4

Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 5

That’s Leonard (the puppet) and I!

 

My brain was more prepared on Day 2 and I remembered to take some pictures of my sessions! Well, one of them at least!

I was supposed to be taking a session on using the NT Archive on day 2, but it was undersubscribed. Luckily, I got to sneak into the puppetry session led by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié of the newly formed Gyre and Gimble, who worked on Warhorse (!!!!). We were taken through some of their previous works, which was distinctly mind-blowing. They also worked on The Light Princess, a musical by Tori Amos. Incidentally I was lucky enough to be at the performance of The Light Princess on the NT’s 50th Anniversary – whoop! The puppetry in that production was truly amazing, so I was thrilled to be able to hear more about behind the scenes from Caldwell and Olié.

We were then allowed to get our hands dirty, proverbially speaking. They presented us with a drama teacher’s dream – a whole roll of brown paper! It doesn’t take much when you’ve got a room full of people with amazing imaginations. They took us through a basic puppetry making workshop, focussing on the three things that make puppets come alive:

  • Breath
  • Focus/eyeline
  • Weight

We separated into groups and made our puppets, then improvised a scene where we focussed on one of the above. It was excellent fun.

I’ve worked in puppetry a bit before, and was privileged to be taught by Philip Mitchell of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Western Australia. Having said that, it has been years since I have properly invested time in it, and I had become so rusty, that I truthfully would have avoided puppetry in my classes. So this workshop was an excellent reminder for me of the fundamentals. I found it really sparked my imagination, and I felt immediately that lots of slightly buried information was coming back to me, along with a spot of confidence. A really worthwhile couple of hours!

The second and final masterclass of the day was a voice workshop, facilitated by NT head of voice Jeanette Nelson. She used some young actors from the current NT Production of Dara to demonstrate a series of exercises we could use in class when helping our students with vocal technique. This was exactly the sort of thing I had come to the NT hoping to participate in. It was pitched perfectly, and Nelson’s knowledge of the mechanics of our voice was second to none. It was really incredible to be able to participate in a lesson taught, not only by the best in the area, nor the country, but someone who is at the top of her field in the world. Truly amazing!

My only reflection on the voice session was that it would have been great to have a handout. Like the puppetry workshop, I have done a lot of vocal work before, but I’d be the first to admit that I haven’t practiced any of it in at least 5 years, so anything I can take away with me to refresh my brain is much appreciated.

After the class, we had a debrief about the two days and what we wanted to see more of from the NT in the future. I was glad to be able to say thank you to the team that organised the conference, as I cam away more invigorated by my new profession than I have been for a long time. It was two days well spent, in my opinion, and I will be glad to attend future events!

If you attended the NT Conference I would be so glad to hear from you – even if we disagree! Please make yourself known in the comments.


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My Final Prac: Week 2

Goodbye Year 12

Flower Day

Week 2 flew by barely giving me a chance to register it had been and gone. It’s that time of the school year in Australia, where the year 12s (equivalent to sixth form) are leaving school, with some study time before they sit their leaving exams.

This week I enjoyed

Getting to know the students a little better. I’ve mastered the names of most of my classes, which is a boon, and makes giving production notes a lot easier! My face has obviously become a lot more familiar to them as well, as I’ve been invited to sit with some girls for a chat, which has made me feel quite cool. I know as a teacher you are supposed to rise above the school politics, but I guess it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s nice to be liked, and nice to have people to talk to! The upper school girls also went on an excursion this week, so I joined them and then helped them workshop some Variety Night scenes. It was so much fun! Teenagers, believe it or not, are often quite delightful.

This week challenged me because

It was the week of my first meeting with my university supervisor, and the key with meeting your US is be so prepared that through the strategic thrusting of documents into their face you confuse them into thinking you’re amazing. It’s quite simple, once you master the paper thrusting technique…but honestly, meeting someone who will assess you is very intimidating, and because I’m not teaching yet I almost feel as though I don’t know what to show her. I haven’t yet come totally to grips with what I’ll be sharing with my classes (particularly my year 10s) and so I feel a little apprehensive about the whole situation. I think that’s normal though…I’m pretty sure that’s normal….

Something I found interesting totally bloomin’ lovely

My placement school is big on traditions, not particularly in an ‘establishment’ sort of way, but more in the vein of ritual. This week, being the last week for year 12 was full of commemorative assemblies, meetings and lunches, and most touchingly, Flower day. On Flower day, parents and the younger students bring in flowers for the year 12 students that they know, or whom to they look up to, as a thank you for their time at school. It was a touching gathering, where I had to look away for a few moments, because *ahem* I Had Something In My Eye. I don’t even know the year 12s at all, but there I was, trying my best not to blub. I remember that time of my life so well. It’s scary, sad and terribly exciting.

There was also an assembly to announce the student council for next year, where the graduating council welcomed the new members onstage, and dressed them in their new council blazers. It can seem stupid, sentimental and silly sometimes, but I could clearly see how much these traditions meant to the girls, and how much they contribute to the atmosphere in the school. It has been a truly lovely week.