Not needed at Preston Lodge yesterday, so accepted an offer of supply work at Queensferry High. I find I'm starting to see offers of supply work at other schools, and in other authorities, as opportunities to get a chance to see how things are done in other schools. This is something you don't get to do if you're on the Teacher Induction Scheme, so maybe the "alternative route" has some advantages. Queensferry High proved to be a very welcoming school, with, as far as I could see, students who were a credit to their school.
One highlight was seeing a special arrangement that had been introduced for a class with a particularly troublesome history. Half a dozen or so particularly difficult students had been extracted to work with the head of department, while the remainder worked under a special, rigorous regime. The head of department started off the lesson with tremendous energy. She went round the class doing one-to-one checks with each student, ensuring that homework diaries were out and jotters and pencils ready. Nothing was left to chance, and talking was absolutely out. A system of warning points was being used to record any shortfalls. Homework booklets were collected and work for the period, already set out on the whiteboard, was clearly explained. The outcome was a class which worked very hard indeed – as if in an exam – despite being left in the charge of an unknown supply teacher. Had anyone walked in during the period, they would never have guessed that this had ever been a troublesome class. Looking over what I've written, it sounds very authoritarian. In practice, though, there was a strong feeling that the school cared about these students, and simply wasn't going to let them miss out on learning.
Some other ideas I liked: good coloured maps of the building displayed in stairwells; carpetting in corridors and classrooms which reduced noise, and signs such as one-way signs on stairs were professionally-made, giving a good first impression.