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Excuses Excuses!

Amy is a Primary Teacher working in schools in London through Protocol Education. Her first Protoblog describes a particularly successful RE lesson.

Excuses Excuses!

A faith school in an affluent North London suburb:
I am struck by the serious attitude of the children towards their learning. My lesson is RE and today I've introduced a humorous element involving a discussion around situations in which we make up excuses for not doing things.
The general reaction is of delight as I open the topic out for the class to share their experiences. This is after all, an opportunity to talk about and admit to things that might have been more taboo in front of their regular class teacher; not doing their homework, bullying their siblings etc…
After a lively discussion, I spot a quiet boy looking bemused in the corner. I read the expression on his face to mean: “How dare you patronise me with your fun lesson!” 
After reading the story of Moses and the burning bush, we share stories about the times in our lives when we have tried to avoid a difficult task by making excuses. We laugh at classics such as “the dog ate my homework, and “but Mum, I can’t tidy my room because I want to do my homework.” As I encourage each child to contribute, I have the sinking feeling that I am actually coaching these impeccably behaved youngsters into sneakiness!
The lesson proves a hit with everyone - even the teaching assistant and learning support assistant have joined in.
A shy boy has written an entire page, re-telling the story of Moses in the desert, totally surpassing the requirement to write a couple of sentences. We give him a house-point and then it dawns on me that he might not have made any connection between the story and his own life experiences. 
The voice of my PGCE mentor rings in my ears: “But what was the learning?” 
Finally, I catch myself questioning a child who has drawn a scribble in biro at the bottom of her page of work.
"I’ve drawn the burning bush.” She replies, a slightly smug look on her face.
“Why have you used biro?” 
“Oh, I didn’t know.” 
The teaching assistant steps in with a tut, reminding her that pencils are always used for drawing. I suddenly realise that the girl has actually just made an excuse – just the topic of the lesson. I pick her up on this and we smile.
Best excuse I have encountered so far whilst teaching: (Year 2, names changed.)
Brian: Charlotte and Lucy are sticking their tongues out at me.
Me: Is this true, Charlotte?
Charlotte nods and looks sheepish.
Me: Why?
Charlotte: Well, our tongues got a bit hot so we had to put them out.
About me:
I am a newly qualified teacher from London. I came to teaching after a decade of working in university bookshops after completing a degree in English Literature. My motivation for teaching comes from my love of reading and continuous learning; something I want to pass on to others.
Out of the classroom, I love nothing more than a nice long walk. It is vital that we take notice of the little things around us, otherwise life is very boring...


Tags: AmyC, Primary Teacher, Supply Teacher, RE, Teach in London, Protocol Education, Excuses

Category: Australian Teachers

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