Saturday, 10 May 2008

So I wasn't the only one

Earlier in the week I read a blog entry by a maths teacher who had taken his class outside for the kind of lesson the Teacher Training Agency pretends we do all the time: in his case, putting maths into action, measuring stuff and photographing lines of symmetry. At the time I added a comment that I hoped he didn't get a bollocking like I had done.

And then today I read that he did sort of get told off for being innovative.

I wonder if we are just all living in parallel worlds (must be the maths influence). How many other teachers tried the same thing this week? Who else tried to enliven a lethargic class by taking them outside to breathe in fresh(er) air and feel something other than the tingle of wireless networking on their skin, to hear the birds sing instead of the background drone of computers on standby and flies trapped in hot classrooms?

I took a class outside for a lesson for two main reasons this week: firstly, they were in real danger of dehydrating and having their brains frazzled in my very hot classroom where the blinds are broken and you can't open the windows very far in case they swing round and smash; and secondly because there were 35 wilting children in a classroom with just 32 desk spaces, and it was to be an active lesson to satisfy the kinaesthetic learners (and disguise the desk: pupil ratio).

Unfortunately our traipsing outside coincided with a member of the senior management team patrolling the grounds for smokers (or perhaps he had just snuck outside for a crafty smoke himself). But whether it was nicotine withdrawal or just the heat of the day, he decided to start shouting at the advance party members of my class who were doing nothing wrong at all: walking out orderly and quietly as I'd asked them to. I caught them up and muttered something before whisking them away, but the damage was done: the kids were justifiably unhappy to have been yelled at for no reason, and I just knew this would come back to bite me on the bum.

But nobody even gave me the right to reply. Every one of those kids could have told anyone who asked them what their learning objectives were that lesson. All of them were actively involved in our al fresco lesson, and they all gained something from it. I'd done my risk assessment of the situation: I had asked about allergies and made sure they had water and we were close to the shade in case it felt too hot. I'd taken more care over their health and safety than the groups of pupils doing PE just over the way, pounding round the track with no shade for over half an hour.

Instead of the job satisfaction of knowing my lesson went well, I just waited for the bollocking. I wouldn't have expected one had the senior teacher not kicked off, but we all know the SMT can't possibly lose face after a hissy fit. And sure enough, the next morning at our daily meeting, a big point was made that learning ONLY takes place in the classroom, and that NOBODY was to take pupils outside because learning DOES NOT take place there.

And I've been sulking about this ever since.


Anonymous said...

That is so dumb, I would learn much better if I wasn't inside all day long wishing I was somewhere else. What is their problem!!!

oldandrew said...

I've rarely gone outside with a class ever since the time I did so and accidentally (i.e. it was his fault) left a student locked in my classroom.

However, when I'm on interviews and I'm asked to describe a successful lesson, that is the lesson I always describe (minus the false imprisonment) and it usually goes down well.

I am now wondering how many of the SMT members and HODs who have seemed impressed by my answer would actually go ballistic if I did it at their school.

Ranting Teacher said...

I must admit, I can see it from another point of view. If everyone decided to decamp to the great outdoors, there would be chaos. And I know if it was a sunny Friday afternoon most of us would be tempted to just sunbathe... so I'll just keep up the pretence of being busy confined within four walls instead...! ;)

Anonymous said...

"Learning ONLY takes place in the classroom"???

What kind of fool says something like this? Do they want students to think schooling has no relevance to the real world outside? Do they want students to stop learning as soon as they leave our rooms?

Ranting Teacher said...

And that was just one of a list of problems I had wit this whole incident which p!ssed me off...!

Anonymous said...

I'm training to be a science teacher and the one thing which is seriously still making me wonder if it's the right thing for me is that I'm stuck indoors all day teaching stuff which would often be best done outdoors. I've seen a lesson on food chains done with all pupils with their backs to a window looking out onto the nature area. No wonder science doesn't seem relevant and so many pupils think the greenhouse effect is something in books...
Sorry, perhaps should get a ranting blog of my own!

Ranting Teacher said...

^^ Don't worry, just find yourself a more enlightened school than mine!

Anonymous said...

Back in 2001/2 I remember the biology lessons one week -- in the first lesson we walked to the canal (school was in the city centre) with buckets, collected some "lively" water and took it back to the lab. Then we emptied it into tanks, and spent the rest of the week studying the animals in there. It was great, although I suppose quite a bit of time was wasted walking to the canal (10 minutes each way), and it was a private school, you'd have to be crazy to take the kids off-site during a lesson otherwise!