A few weeks into full-time and I'm settling in to my new speed of life. Days whizz by, evenings whizz by. I feel like I never stop working but also that I never start working because I'm enjoying it all so much. Here's a little insight into a week at Word Academy.
Mondays are up and out and off to Sowerby Bridge to teach my lovely 8 year old home educated student. We have been using his love of camping as a stimulus for reading and writing. Over the past few weeks, we have created his imagined PERFECT campsite. He has decided he would like it to have VW campers to sleep in, a waterslide, boomerang competitions and more! Well, why not? It was all sounding pretty great to be honest. So today we researched the country that he has set his campsite in but knows very little about: Australia. He loved reading and learning about the animals, landscape and cities and added a lovely descriptive paragraph to his campsite leaflet using plenty of interesting adjectives. Well done you! After this, it was a little handwriting and spelling for him and then back to my house for me for some planning. I normally teach a second home educated year 10 student from my classroom on a Monday afternoon and am starting a class for home educated teens in February. This week though I was able to spend plenty of time planning my lessons for Wednesday, book a holiday, get out to get leaflets in book bags in a few of the local schools before picking my boys up for a game of Game of Life and then settling in for the evening with my new book about smashing the business world, Is This It? by Ruth Kudzi. (I may be small now but watch this space people!)
I am starting to teach classes between 3.30pm and 8pm from February but, for now, the day was mine to plan Friday's lessons which took all morning. I'm finding that I am spending so much more time planning lessons now but that means that my lessons are much better thought out and differentiated to the skill level and the needs of the learners in the class. Next up, I was planning some marketing strategies for getting up to capacity with students for Word Academy. Watch this space!
Beautiful day so I relocated to the garden classroom which is not only lovely and warm on a sunny day whatever the temperature but also a beautiful place to think and work. After planning a lesson for Monday, I started to tackle learning some of the software for online learning. After 45 minutes of scratching my head trying to work out how on earth it all worked and feeling my stress levels rise, I got my walking boots on and got out of there. I had a lovely lunch with a teacher friend and her daughter on her day off before trudging back to Oxenhope in a much better state of mind: I wouldn't say I smashed online teaching technology but by the end of the day I had a log-on, a play with the online whiteboard and no longer wanted to smash my laptop into tiny pieces. Which was an improvement. Then for 3 lessons on Wednesday evenings. On Wednesdays I teach my lovely upper primary literacy class. They have been looking at how to persuade in recent weeks and loved verbal boxing where they competed to be the most persuasive. The topic was footballer's wages and with two ten year old boys in the class, things got heated! With my year 8 and 9 class, we worked on using the persuasive techniques we have been using to write some copy for a webpage aiming to get people to sponsor endangered chimpanzees. I'm having a bit of a theme with some of the classes for my younger students around charities, how they persuade and particularly have been looking at charities linked to saving the environment. They all did a stirling job at persuading me so I might have to go and adopt that chimpanzee now... The final lesson for the day is my year 11 class. At the moment I only have one student in the class (it is my second class for this age group) but would love some more! The student and I worked on character descriptions, looking at examples, techniques, writing paragraphs and marking his piece against the markscheme. In 3 weeks this student's work has moved up two full grades for Paper 1, question 5. Good going. Classes over, off I went to aerobics. Phew - busy day!
Thursdays are a day I would love to fill up with lessons for home educated students, either 1-1 or in groups and either face-to-face or online. It's still early days though and this week it worked well. I managed to fit in a hospital visit for my son's hearing test before heading home to work out the online whiteboard once and for all! I'm extremely happy to report that I am now able to use Bitpaper proficiently and have a fabulous lesson planned for a student on Monday! I even managed to include a way to use Toe by Toe online, which is a highly structured reading strategy for students who struggle to learn to read and/ or are dyslexic. After a trip to the dentist with the kids, I suffered a horrendous journey home where I spent much of my time telling them not to touch each other, not to look at each other and not to breathe near each other. After this I was ready for some emails and messages with parents of current and prospective clients.
BOOTCAMP! For some reason, I have signed myself up for bootcamp with Sam Reeday in Oxenhope. 7 of us run around for an hour with Sam expertly directing us and we do exactly what she says whilst wondering whatever made us sign up in the first place. Weirdly though, despite the pain and the drizzle, I really enjoy it! After Bootcamp it's home for a shower, make sure my lessons are prepared for this afternoon, get on Facebook for some promotion (I'm here - don't forget me!) and a realisation that I haven't written a blog in about 3 months... So here I am. 2 classes this afternoon - my lovely high ability year 4-6s who are writing a letter to David Attenbrough (and yes, we are going to send it - they are so excited) and then my larger class of year 11s who studied the style of Edgar Allen Poe ready to plan and write their own stories. They had a great time coming up with gory stories to disgust their examiners! Quick change: off to a party in Bingley.
I cannot believe how busy I have become running Word Academy and it doesn't stop at the weekend where I will be continuing to read, plan, promote and this weekend, write copy for a private client. With 3 more classes starting next week, life is getting even busier! I am so lucky to be doing something that I truly love and to have such fantastic students who want to improve! Thank you existing clients for your custom, to friends and family for your support and prospective clients, please come and join one of the classes I run after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and for home educated students through the day on Mondays and hopefully soon on Thursdays!