Having read through a number of colleagues’ blog posts regarding professional “itches” – the inequalities and niggling areas in their school or classroom that just won’t go away, I have reflected and come up with a few of my own:
- The ICT gap
This is really only one I can comment on having worked in a number of centres under 3 different LA areas. The gap between the ICT facilities available in different schools and authorities is astonishing. I have worked in a centre where there are no ICT rooms available with more than 18 computers (no use for an English class of 30) and also a school where every pupil has their own digital device provided for them. This is a problem far too big for any one local authority alone to solve, and I know how hard my colleagues work and have worked sourcing ICT for those who do not have access to any at home, especially during lockdown. Despite this, when it comes to pupils working on portfolio pieces, more than a couple of pupils in each class benefitting from access to ICT for longer pieces of writing or individual study, the itch that I can’t solve will always resurface.
- Learning English through immersion
One particular challenge that is presented through working in my current centre is that we have a high number of pupils who have English as an additional language. While many of these pupils are fluent, often with Scottish accents to boot, the problem arises when a new family moves to the area and their child is in the late secondary school. With new arrivals, even those with no English, joining full timetables for immersion, things go one of two ways. Either the pupil flourishes and is keen to learn, or they have additional barriers that are very difficult to break down. Perhaps they didn’t want to move – perhaps they have come at too old an age and are too self conscious to make mistakes with language? Either way, despite excellent though sporadic ESOL input, I never feel I can do a good enough job in making these individuals comfortable in my classroom – the English room.
- Active Learning challenges
This is only a current itch and I completely understand why I can’t do my usual at the moment – but it’s annoying anyway!
I miss some types of active learning so much. Although I am able to do a wide variety of activities without pupils moving or leaving seats I am missing some of the classics – moving around the room for a quiz, speed dating, knockouts, question panels, roaming experts, different group tasks that aren’t in rows… you name it. As much as I am enjoying the challenge of making learning as active and engaging as possible at the moment – I can’t wait to get back!