I’ve got a new job! Nah nah na nah na!

Oh how childish. Can you tell I’m excited?

I’m going to be an assistant headteacher in a school that doesn’t have deputies. What does that make me? Once again, there were internal candidates who didn’t get appointed. I guess that makes things a little difficult (or at least it has in the past, as I wrote previously).

As I write up my notes to put on file and prepare to write my letter of resignation I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate the joy of my Year 10 with you.

When I first became a senior leader I thought that all my classes would have to be perfect with super classroom management and exquisitely behaved students. Luckily that’s not the case. You just have to deal with the poor behaviour and chase up everything and set an example to other colleagues in that way.

For example, today – I put all thoughts of being a senior leadership genius aside to teach 10A4 this afternoon. They are the lowest set maths group in Year 10 and have exams next week. This combination does not bode well for a fun-packed lesson, stress seems to evoke silliness in Year 10 girls.

Amelia decides she doesn’t want to sit in her allocated class seat. She puts the stroppy look on, it says (in one sneer), ‘Go on Miss, I dare you to say something’. The torrent of abuse I get when I say, ‘Amelia, that is not your seat, please go back to your place’ is incredible.

The look of defiance I am faced with when I send her to the Head of Maths is like a sheet of ice stuck to a brick wall. ‘I’m not going. I’m doing my work, you can’t make me.’

She was doing her work, as she chatted to Rachel alongside her. Considering the two girls were about 10cm apart the noise level was incredible. Rachel was not doing her work; she was concentrating fully on her conversation with Amelia.

I won’t bore you with any more of mine and Amelia’s conversation except that while we were having it the rest of the class were silent. Suffice to say around 10 minutes later another member of senior leadership team came and escorted Amelia as she made her way to the Head of Maths.

Teenage students have strops. If this had been the first time Amelia had refused to follow an instruction then I may have dealt with her differently but she’s a persistent offender who needs a tough line taking.

Checklist for today

  • Mark the Year 10 graph homeworks that I found at the bottom of my bag on Sunday evening – they’ll never let me live down having two weeks ‘off’ and not marking their work.
  • Produce a list and schedule for the photographer of our new school prospectus. He’s not coming until the middle of May but he needs the list this week – I don’t know why, I think he needs to check I’ve got enough Sports, ICT and other exciting things on my list.
  • Find the Head and explain I’ve got a job interview on Friday. I can do this bit but I cannot explain why I didn’t tell him I’d applied to another school. Whoops – never mind, cross your fingers for me! Nothing much would change with my blog I’d just be the assistant head in a different mixed comprehensive school!
  • Start planning a 10-minute presentation on ‘What makes an excellent lesson’ – guess what that’s for! Why do they make you jump through such hoops? I can add that one to my earlier post.
  • Prepare my study skills session for Year 11. They’re off timetable for a double lesson tomorrow. There’s a team of 10 or so staff delivering a high-energy session to small groups of students, reminding them of things like SQ3R and mind-mapping and how to set up a room for study. Luckily we’ve plenty of resources from The Life Skills Company to help us.
  • I know I should have planned this in the holidays but I left my folder in school and forgot to pick it up when I was doing Easter revision. I am only human!
  • Teach three lessons and hold a line management meeting. I have planned these, and the line management meeting will be okay although it means one less free period in which to do all the other items on this list.
  • Stay awake through coursework moderation – nothing worse than reading more or less the same thing but in different handwriting 10 or 15 times, except possibly reading it 20 or 30 times when I’ve marked it. Bring on the end of coursework!

Oh that’s enough, surely!

Getting a little bit more technical, here are some more games that work really well in the classroom.


I’m sure you know how to play this from the TV show. Here’s the DIY version: 

  1. I have my own set of levelled questions that I’ve made up and a laminated paper board and tokens that I made a few years ago. 
  2. It didn’t take that long to find two questions for each letter of the alphabet, for Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 so I could revise with my Year 9s. Some of the links are quite tenuous – C for Circumference is fine. F for Find the sum of… is less so!

To save you the trouble of DIY, you can now find electronic versions. As a maths teacher I use MyMaths which has its own version of mathematical Blockbusters – the only problem is there’s only one level of question, so I can only use it with a certain group of students.

The TES has a Science version through a forum on their site. You need to register with the site to download this.

I’ve also found a site where you can buy software to make your own game  although I’ve not used it myself. Perhaps you have?

If you have a projector/interactive whiteboard in your classroom, then Blockbusters could be worth a go.


Lastly (from my brain anyway), Who wants to be a Millionaire. Well actually I don’t like to play this, although there are plenty of versions around. It’s just the Qwizdom remote handsets that I use.

This piece of software, and others like it, is incredible. You can set up your own multiple choice questions with pictures and import them into many games. Mission to Mars, a space rocket race, seems to be the favourite at our school. There are ready-made questions available but because the company is American we’ve had to adapt some of the questions and answers.

Students work individually to answer questions and key in their answers (a, b, c, d or True/False) onto their own handsets. The data on who was fastest, who did not answer, etc is all saved and available to the teacher after the game is finished.

It takes a little time to register each pupil onto their own handset, but once you’ve set it up with each student using the same one each time it’s fine. It takes up loads of memory, we need to have separate memory-sticks as our shared area in school cannot cope. However the benefits far outweigh the logistics.

We’re all coming back to school after the holiday, which we probably spent catching up on marking and other chores but also enjoying our leisure time. I’ve spent quite a lot of time playing Xbox and my Nintendo DS. I think my game playing has transferred into my teaching brain, which shows in my planning for the first couple of weeks back.

I’m particularly interested in the thoughts of secondary colleagues from a number of angles. Do you have time to plan and prepare games? Do you have time in your curriculum to take time ‘off’ to play games? What games do you play?

I’ve split my games into two types. Firstly there are the simple, non-electronic games that don’t need a lot of preparation – see below.

Secondly, there are the games that use the latest technology, including software, hardware and the internet – which I’ll talk about in my next post.

Bingo – with numbers and words

I’m a great fan of bingo. As a maths teacher, I often use multiplication bingo. Here’s how: 

Well, we all had a great time [see previous post]. I am exhausted – it’s not often one spends all day with the kids, including lunch-time supervision.

We were targeting certain students (lower ability working towards levels 4 and 5) and had invited them personally, but then a general notice was put into the school newsletter. So an extra three turned up on the day and naturally they were top-set Level 7s and 8s… the best laid plans!

I always enjoy reading the students’ evaluations of my teaching and the day in general. The quote of this year’s session is, “sometimes she has a big loud annoying voice when she’s trying to get your attention but normally she’s just really funny nice [or, given the standard of penmanship, it might be ‘furry mice’] and makes sure you know and she involves you.”

I now feel that I can sit back, relax and enjoy my Easter holiday. I am able to put the piles of coursework out of sight and therefore firmly out of mind until after the bank holiday weekend!

Following on from my last post, we held the Head of D&T interviews and appointed one of the external candidates.

The interview team was absolutely delighted but I had the unenviable task of feeding back to Jon, our internal candidate. He was naturally disappointed and a little bitter, but he had made it clear beforehand that he would support whoever was appointed.

Jon said he needed a little time to get over the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. That really tugged at my heartstrings. He also felt that he was doing a good job as acting Head of Department and his confidence had been knocked. I had to explain that we couldn’t really take his work into account and, somehow more brutally, that doing a good job short-term wasn’t the same as selling himself as the right person to move the department forward. We’ve made an appointment to go through his lesson and answers to the formal interview questions. He’s now got the full two weeks’ holiday to brood over things.

I think it’s definitely worse when you’re an internal candidate. When you go for a job at a new school and don’t succeed, you can just go back to work. A few people know about it, you say you didn’t like the school anyway and it’s all over. 

Again, it’s different when it’s all internal candidates, as we had recently for a Head of Year post. You don’t feel you have a home advantage, you’re on an even keel and know that someone has to be disappointed.

I know it may be a sore point but next half-term is THE half-term for job-hunting. Do you have any stories to tell about internal or external appointments? I’m applying for jobs at the moment, any hints for how to get your letter noticed?

I will enjoy it when I get there. I really will because this year we’ve targeted Level 4s to 5s and as a result I have just ten of the sweetest children in Year 9 to myself for the day. I know I shouldn’t, but I always call them nice but dim. Having said that, if they all get Level 5s then I won’t be able to anymore!

I’m focusing on 3 topics – fractions, solving equations and area and perimeter. In some of my best-planned lessons this year we’re going to be using quite a lot of mymaths as my school has a subscription and it has lots of topic-oriented games as well as teaching tools. We’re also going to be using topic-focused SATs papers printed from testbase (as posted on Decimal Points).

We are interviewing for a new Head of Design and Technology. As I line-manage this department I shall be involved in the interviews. Usually I really enjoy interview days because they’re so full of expectation and promise and at the end there’s a new member of staff to be inducted into the fold. However we have one internal candidate, which makes it a completely different experience.

I know from my own experience that schools aim to interview fairly and don’t take your work in the school into consideration. In this and my previous position I ‘beat’ internal candidates to the post. At the time it felt like a bittersweet victory and in one case working with the person on a day to day basis was quite difficult.

I’m also applying for jobs and hopefully will have some interviews of my own after Easter. Anyway, all this has got me thinking about interviews.

I know Chadders is talking about his experience of primary Deputy Head interviews and is asking for examples of interview questions. I’ve listed some sites that give you ideas about the types of questions that you may be asked at various levels of primary or secondary interview:

I was on a course today. It was on ‘Gifted and Talented’. I know there are a lot of issues around this label, 5% – 10% and league tables. The trainer certainly raised some interesting points but I don’t really want to talk about G&T today (unless you do!).

One of the things we discussed within my group was ‘setting’ and I would very much like to explore that.

What do you think about student grouping and what do your schools (primary or secondary) do? I know that was more questions than answers but sometimes that’s what a blog’s about!

It was Year 7 parents’ evening last night.

The first parents’ evening with a year group is such a joyful thing when you teach an able group. We recently did a set change and so I now have just two students who are a little below the range of the rest of the group.

We have Ben, I told you a bit about him before, he didn’t know it was parents’ evening and hadn’t made appointments! There’s also Sanjeev who is an attention seeking know-it-all. That’s a very bad combination, especially if you’re taught by Mrs OC.