A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Irina Tyk says blend from left to right
Previous entry: Home education under attack in Scotland
Tuesday January 15 2008

At the Supplementary School I now teach at one evening a week, I have mostly been doing one-to-one teaching.  But last Saturday, at that training session I attended, I got a chance to talk with the two main teachers at my school, without there being children present to whom they needed to attend.  And it turned out that they were a bit bothered about me doing only one-to-one teaching, because this has the effect of individual children being lead off in different directions and then maybe losing touch with the flock, so to speak.  With one Small Boy in particular, one-to-one is best, because he is way behind the rest, but my colleagues feel that if a child can make reasonable sense of what’s being taught in the big class, that’s where the child ought to be.  And my best way of helping would be to be a classroom assistant.  Fine by me.  I just want to assist and to learn.

So, this evening, back for the new year, I spent the first half of the evening with Small Boy, who does need special attention, and I duly did my best.  But, I spent the second half assisting Mr Vora with his maths class.  I helped individual children either because they were struggling or because they were not struggling and needed further related tasks to keep them usefully occupied.  And generally, I tried to make myself useful.  I’m no great shakes as a maths teacher, but maths, at the level being taught here, I can do.

Off on my own, my basic problems have been: what do they want me to do?  And: how well am I doing it?  By being Mr Vora’s classroom assistant, I got to see him in action, and he got to see me in action.  I could see what he was trying to teach, and could help with that.  He got to see me at work, and could tell me afterwards what was most helpful.  He seemed content.

I also got a clearer idea than hitherto of what I need to be teaching Small Boy.

The usual arguments about how to organise teaching rather assume that the only question is: what teaches the pupils best?  But there is another question worth asking: what teaches the teachers best?