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Kerry Dixon

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Everything posted by Kerry Dixon

  1. Kerry Dixon

    School musicals

    I'm not a music teacher but I hope you won't mind helping an "invader" from the language board! I worked with the music department last year on a very successful production of the schools edition of Les Miserables. it's inspired us and we are looking ahead to another big production in 2005. The students would like to do something very different, so we would like to move in the direction of a rock style musical. We're considering Fame the Musical - has anyone ever been involved in a production? I'd be grateful for any thoughts, comments or suggestions! Thanks!
  2. It's not just students who need pastoral care - should schools and LEAs be doing more to protect staff too? Use this thread to share your own experiences, positive or negative, or to discuss what could and should be done to support those of us at the chalk face.
  3. Kerry Dixon

    How valuable are teachers?

    Having never worked in either France or Germany, I can only comment on my experiences with native speaker language teachers in our department (mod langs) who say that both pay and conditions are worse here. The main difference in terms of status is that most teachers there are civil servants - they are guaranteed a job for life and have a status in society which we in the UK can only dream of! They are also considerably better paid I believe - and in France, I think they only have to teach 18 hours a week with NO other expectations. (ie no cover, few meetings). In both countries teachers are not expected to be at school when they are not teaching - certainly in our school, we're not even supposed to go off site at lunchtime without permission. Both German schools I worked in as an assistant (in different authorities) got time of in lieu of parents evenings as well...
  4. Kerry Dixon

    Teachers' International Professional Development

    John I can't seem to access the site from that link - it might just be having technical difficulties right now, but could you check the address? Cheers!
  5. Kerry Dixon

    Secondary Cover Supervisors

    Things are obviously different at our school - supply teachers here expect a detailed lesson plan, usually just consisting of a list of p63 ex 1-3 etc. We are expected to leave this detailed work ourselves if the absence is planned, and those on responsibility points are expected to do it for those who are off sick. I am currently into my sixth week of setting detailed cover work for an absent teacher. Occassionally we are lucky to get a former member of the dept who will do some proper teaching and keep the classes moving forwards. Most of the time, however, it is non-specialists who expect to just babysit. I'm not sayin I agree that cover supervisers could do the job - for a start I think discipline would be an issue, and as others have rightly said, it amounts to little less than exploitation. However, it wouldn't be that much of a change for those of us lumbered with setting work.
  6. Kerry Dixon

    Positive Thinking

    I am currently working with my Y11 form on raising their self esteem through thinking positively. I am trying to make them see the value of themselves and each other as members of society, and not just to respect academic/ sporting/ musical achievements etc. My first step was to give each of them a list of everyone in the form and ask them to fill in 3 adjectives to describe each other. They were told only to use positive comments - if they wrote anything negative, their sheets would be binned and not taken into account. I then compiled a list of all of the adjectives used to describe each person, and gave each student their list. They were absolutely thrilled - particularly the weaker, more "difficult" students, who were gobsmacked to see themselves described positively. I can recommend this to anyone who wants to try raising self-esteem, but I would also love to hear of any other activities that people have tried in a similar vein. KerryD
  7. I am having doubts about the government's plans to introduce languages into the primary school and wondered what colleagues thought. Not about the issue - I'm sure most people would agree that in an ideal world we should all grow up speaking more then one language... I mean in terms of the way the government plans to introduce the language - to me it appears it's all talk and no money to back it up. Perhaps UK colleagues have some thoughts to offer - or maybe our colleagues from elsewhere could give us some details of Will the languages be taught by trained language specialists or will we spend the first year of secondary language teaching undoing mistakes ingrained by well-meaning but unqualified general primary teachers? Will schools be given the time and opportunity to come up with schemes of work that will allow for continuity, even when students feed from several primary schools (we have 13 feeder primaries). Will we all have to revert to teaching French as a first foreign lanaguage because primary schools all offer French? (We currently start half of the cohort with French and half with German - changing would involve massive implications for staffing). Any thoughts?
  8. Kerry Dixon

    Is there anybody out there?

    Sorry - maybe it would help to establish whether everyone on here is also on Linguanet? I sometimes think of threads to start but then they get brought up in Linguanet and wonder if it's worth doing it again... But I'll start a thread and see what happens...
  9. Kerry Dixon

    Languages and literature

    It's true that students find it difficult to communicate in areas where dialect is spoken. In fact, I have to confess to understanding little if anything when I visited friends in Bavaria a few years ago, and have sometimes advised A-Level students to travel elsewhere if they want to really improve their (exam-orientated) language skills. I was actually lucky enough to find a course that was not literature based (Aston) - the only university in the country which is allowed to award BSc in MFL because of the modern, technological approach. We worked mostly with journalistic texts, interpreting, business language and also history and cultural affairs. I loved it - although I love reading, including in the target language, I hated studying literature at A-Level as it involved completely different skills to those I was interested in. With A-Level students, I do a literary topic for the A2 essay paper - but not a set text. The questions are much more issue-based and involve no in-depth literary analysis. That way I can introduce students to the joy of extended reading without putting them off by expecting them to do what they see as English Literature in the target language. (Sorry - gone off on several tangents....)
  10. Kerry Dixon

    Positive Thinking

    I agree in principle with what you're saying, and the whole point of the experience is to raise self esteem. However, if you launch straight into these activities by asking children with low self esteem to judge themselves, most of them are immediately negative - they genuinely believe they have no qualities worth naming. By showing them first of all how much other people think of them, it gives them a basis on which to build - if enough people tell them that they are a good listener, for example, they start to slowly believe that they are. Further down the line, you can then ask students to explore their own qualities - when they have developed enough confidence to tackle what is to them a very sensitive issue. They find it much easier to praise each other than themselves. As a side note, it's also interesting how children with low self esteem respond to praise - research suggests these students respond better to low-key praise like "ok" and "good" than they do to more extravagent praise like "excellent". They apparently don't belive their work ever could be excellent, so they assume you must be lying or exaggerating. Anyone have any thoughts?
  11. Kerry Dixon

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Pastoral care basically means looking after the welfare of the students, ie it is not based on curriculum but on each child's other needs. This may involve issues of discipline, behaviour problems, counselling, mentoring etc. Each school has a different approach to pastoral care, but in most schools it is delivered by a team of teachers, from Form Tutors (each of whom look after the day to day wellbeing of a class); Heads of Year and their Assistants (who look after a whole year group, dealing with problems beyond what a form tutor can take care of) and usually at least one member of the Leadership Group who has overall responsibility for the Pastoral care system. Does that help?
  12. Kerry Dixon

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Oops - sorry! I have no idea why the whole quote was added there!
  13. Kerry Dixon

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    This would also be backed up by the fact that, in general, students respond much better to guest speakers than to teachers. We have a visit from a Holocaust survivor every year - although most of the work is done in RE lessons, he does assemblies too, and students listen and respond to an extent they never do when the assembly is taken by a teacher. The point about the Holocaust memorial day is also interesting. It's a difficult area - because obviously we need opportunities to challenge students' perceptions of such events and stimulate debates but there is always a danger of sensationalising.
  14. Should the needs of an individual pupil with specific behavioural/emotional issues take priority over the welfare of a whole class? In discussion with colleagues at various schools, it seemed we felt the needs of difficult pupils are slowly becoming a huge focus. Though it seems like a callous thing to say, we all felt that sometimes we need to act in a way that means one pupil does not dominate the teacher's attention at the expense of the 29 well-behaved pupils in the class... Do forum members agree with us? Have we become so obsessed with the rights of the individual that we are in danger of overlooking the right of the whole class to learn without interruption? This issue seems to be compounded further by the fact that it's not PC to admit we can't always help with some of these students from challenging backgrounds - it seems to be expected of us that we can plan individual curricula for each child...
  15. Kerry Dixon

    paying for educational trips

    So far we have been very lucky here - both of our Exchanges have supply cover funded centrally, we don't have to cover the cost. However, funding has become so much tighter this year that this may change. If it should come to be that we need to cover supply costs, our exchanges will cease to happen as costs have already risen so much for travel, insurance etc. It's something I certainly hadn't considered, but which certainly could become reality.
  16. Kerry Dixon

    Bullying

    Do you mean bullying of staff? That's very true - it's an important issue. I've started a new thread to deal with it to keep it seperate from ideas about tackling student bullying, though obviously they will occassionally overlap. But we can use the new thread for colleagues to talk about their own experiences of bullying in the workplace, and for all of us to offer support and constructive advice to each other.
  17. Kerry Dixon

    Natural learning

    This all sounds intriguing... difficult to imagine being so free to work like this in our bureacratic system... Just a quick question from a personal point of view - where do foreign languages fit in?
  18. Kerry Dixon

    GCSE Coursework

    We have recently introduced coursework to languages at our school and I have very mixed feelings about it. I feel that my very weak students do benefit from it, in comparison to the old writing exam for which they often wrote nothing. The coursework allows for gap-fill texts or lists of phrases to be provided for weaker students, with a maximum mark allowable when those resources are declared. However, I am sure that my better students are not being stretched by coursework. I know that theoretically they can push themselves and try new things, however this often leads to mistakes which they wouldn't make in a more straightforward piece. The easiest way to get full marks is to write a simplish piece which is very accurate. This has led to problems with the jump to AS. There is of course always the worry about plagiarism - in our case it is often older brothers or sisters who correct coursework for them. It's difficult, if not impossible, to control. I also worry that there are some schools who are more lax than we are in the way they carry out coursework - whilst I don't wish to suggest colleagues are unprofessional, we all know how much pressure is put on staff to get better and better results - I know how often I've been tempted to say more to a student than I should to improve the mark. I don't think there is a perfect answer to this question!
  19. Kerry Dixon

    Pastoral care in other countries

    I thought so - this was why I was interested to see what other members had to offer on this subject. As an assistant head of year, I do my best but with so little time, it's difficult to deal with all of the students who would benefit from the attention. Unfortunately, most of our time is taken up with admin, discipline and academic tracking (as well as teaching a full timetable and being a form tutor), leaving little or no time for those students who need a listening ear for whatever reason. How about members from other countries? Does any other country have this kind of non-teaching pastoral care? Or are other countries more like my experiences of Germany, where pastoral care is dealt with ad hoc by staff who teach the students concerned?
  20. Kerry Dixon

    Pastoral care in other countries

    I would be interested to hear what the pastoral care systems are like in the countries other forum members teach in. My impression from being a language assistant in Germany was that the systems of form tutors / heads of year etc and the general sense of taking a more active role in pupils' emotional wellbeing is more pronounced in England. I wonder whether this is because of whole day school - obviously we spend more time with our pupils, therefore we take on a greater in loco parentis role. Is this just my naive experience or is it true? Do other countries have heads of year or similar teachers in responsibility post who deal with pastoral care, discipline etc? Or is this a very British thing? I've also heard about the American system of Guidance Counsellers, but if I understood correctly these are not necessarily trained teachers? All input / anecdotes / opinions welcome!
  21. Kerry Dixon

    International Student Debate

    Me too - this sounds great. I will find two students from Stokesley School, Borth Yorkshire. The topic areas sound really interesting - they'll also be perfect university interview preparation! KerryD
  22. Kerry Dixon

    Spring Day in Europe 2004

    This sounds like something our sixth form students would be interested in too - and maybe some of our year 10/11s. It's a great idea - communication for real purposes! KerryD
  23. Kerry Dixon

    Mentoring borderline Y11 students

    This is the time of year when we pick out from the trial exam results those Year 11 students who seem to be underachieving. As Assistant Head of year 11, I will be heavily involved in this for the first time. I would be very grateful for suggestions of what works well - last year, each student was assigned a mentor on the staff to meet with once a week to ensure coursework deadlines etc were met. Although this was successful, I am keen to expore any other techniques which work. Thanks, KerryD
  24. Kerry Dixon

    Bullying

    This is an issue which we are currently looking at in detail at head of year meetings. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has experience with any form of anti-bullying measures, such as a sixth-form led council, peer mediation etc. Please add comments about things which disn't work as well as things that did! KerryD North Yorks
  25. Kerry Dixon

    Introduce yourself here

    Hi there, My name's Kerry Dixon and I teach German and some French at an 11-18 comp with technology college status in North Yorkshire. I'm in my sixth year of teaching. As well as languages, I amd also assistant head of Year 11, and also produce and direct whole school musicals every two years!
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