I doubt any teacher reading this hasn’t stood in silence in the summer term and looked long and hard at THAT piece of paper. The timetable appears in our pigeon hole or active in the new season of sims. We all look to check which classes, how many non contacts, but above all we head in one direction, to Friday period 5. The last lesson of the week, what I am teaching?
I love Friday p5. Except this year when I am free (more later). Friday p5 means the week of formal work is almost over and the weekend beckons. The bigger gap (a weekend) between a period 5 and the next period 1 (Monday) gives a welcome breather to staff and of course pupils. Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten Sunday periods 3, 4, 5……etc but wine O’clock, beer O’clock or frankly just BreakfromSchool O’Clock all beckon.
For several years…
What I have learnt is Friday p5 needs prep like no other lesson. Oh I know some lessons need a lot of attention when difficult concepts or challenging skills have to be delivered, or even when feedback is not going to be easy ( after mocks when we feel we worked harder than our pupils). But Friday p5 is a challenge. Pupils are ready for home, staff can see the light at the end of a tunnel, even the TES ran their articles “Thank God it’s Friday” .
What I have found is:
- Plan a Friday period 5 lesson well in advance
- Now prepare that really good lesson (as always) with the fine tuning
- Take the teaching and learning seriously (no easing up just for Friday p5). It may be difficult for us as teachers to be so challenging on Friday p5. But try, don’t give up
- Don’t go soft and bring in cakes and biscuits – neither choose that easy lesson, maintain your standards. Do what we say on Monday period 1 > persevere
- Think all the more carefully how the class and individuals will react
- Choose activities to suit but keep up your passion and inspirational leading, your pupils usually follow.
I’m a chemist so we have a great subject to deliver and there is an array of weapons for defeating any Friday p5 blues from demo’s, practicals, videos, software as well as the reading, quizzes, worksheets powerpoints and of course for us just great chemical stories. For several years I had a Friday p5 and Monday p1 ‘double’. Yes two lessons split by the weekend. I tried to have a ‘practical Friday’. We (class and me) agreed we were not at our best and so we would take a slower pace and do a practical. This soon turned out to be an error on my part as some pupils sat back, didn’t engage, let others do the practical and then did not learn the skills. The practical did not help the theory. On the Monday when we came to look over the results I faced a spectrum from those who couldn’t remember what we had done to those who had lost results, with little in between. I was tempted to do a rerun demonstration but that sent a message equivalent to ‘forget Friday p5 he’ll do it all again”. I have done tests and assessments Friday p5 too, they don’t bring out the best but they are of course necessary.
But school is more than just that timetable and so as the Friday 3.30 bell rings out school and rings in the weekend it’s farewell. For us, bus duty has an additional ring. “Enjoy the weekend, get a rest, have a break, do your work well” is a great message to pupils getting on the bus but it’s not a bad one for staff.
So this year I am free Friday p5 and find it difficult to be productive – I struggle to do any serious planning for the next week, I am too tired to do marking and it seems to be less books per hour than it does at other times. I try to think what might be happening in the next week and planning that to save time and worry on Sunday period 3, but frankly not much comes very easily. In fact it is my response to a first non contact in 30+ years which has made me think all the more of the importance of lesson prep for Friday p5 and of course all our lessons. Way back in the early 80’s on teaching practice my mentor said to me that every hour long lesson needed an hour planning – he might have been right but I have neglected that, perhaps inevitably as an SLT member. The hour you leave for prep can be hijacked by some crisis, or ‘more important’ task and too often my lesson Friday p5 wasn’t prepped by an hour but by 15 min the night before and 50 metre ( journey from office to classroom). There is a lesson in there and it isn’t an outstanding Friday p5 one.
I’ve done some Friday p5 covers this year, looked at the class on sims and wondered…what mood will they be in? What work has been left? How best do I tackle…. and I have found the solution. Just arrive with the big smile and say it’s Friday period 5 lets get this last hour of learning done really well and then it’s the weekend. So with an enthusiasm covering my state of mind we crack on together.
One last thing though. Friday p5 has a little gem of a bonus. Possibly six times a year it is swallowed up in an end of half term event. In my school we never finish a half term early, school time is too valuable….well and we can’t get buses any other time! My lesson prep planner says: Christmas liturgy, Easter, Sports awards, Summer farewell. As a younger teacher this meant nothing to do save escort my class or tutor group, and reflect with them the term passed and the holiday ahead. Or as I recall in my first school keep my y11 tutees from being rude about the Heads final assembly ‘ the best part of the holiday can be likened to the first bite of the cherry, after which a little has been lost”. Same words every year. As part of our SLT there are now the arrangements to be made for a whole school activity; logistics to plan, and the cajoling and supporting of others leading those occasions. Some planning as to what should be celebrated, in what appropriate manner and by whom.
Over the course of a year I think these 40 Friday period 5 sessions epitomise a lot of what schools are about:
- Teaching and learning at the sharp end of making the very best of the time in a classroom;
- Of enthusiasm and passion in the face of personal and pupil fatigue
Of what might be important in the wider community and family, well and frankly in life -ours as teachers, for our pupils and for our community
- A reminder of the work life balance and that rhythm of life for pupils and staff
the reinforcing of ethos – what a school, a school leader, a teacher and a pupil think are important and expect.
I think there is a special magic about Friday period.
Oh hang on – Friday period 5 finished and Friday period 6 mean it’s the deputy head detention night……oh well let’s see if anyone is waiting, even that’s all part of the magic too.
Some questions to consider
Q1 How do we help our pupils to learn about perseverance, can it only be modelled? Or can we teach it, mark it and inwardly digest it?
Q2 What about when we feel like giving up or giving in, what is it makes us persevere?
Q3 Is perseverance too difficult a concept, it’s not a proper skill, just get back to teaching facts? Hey….. Employers want them to be able to write a decent letter, not interested in perseverance? Hmmm
For those in a faith community
The NT is full of references to perseverance, even the classic reading for the wedding day in the character of true love. Paul seems to realise it’s pretty necessary and commends the Roman Church for showing such.
1 Corinthians 13:7
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
2 Peter 1:6
and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.