Participant Diary 2014 - Sarah Watt

Voices - 11 December 2014

A collection of diary entries by 2014 participant, Sarah Watt.

Term 2

Dear Diary

One of my big challenges so far is getting my Year 11 English class to engage with lessons and to respond to what I’d hoped would be “inspirational” teaching. Some of them refuse to do any work in class, albeit politely and firmly. I must find a way to “reach” them if they’re to achieve results by the end of the year.

Term 2, Week 5
The good news is, the whole class turned up to have a go at the practice exams! The bad news is the general consensus was that no one did any study because “it’s not worth credits” so most were not surprised to fail both exams. Katalina did better in terms of giving the exam a decent shot and just passed, so now she feels encouraged that with more work and focus, she could do better. This is one small plus!

Term 2, Week 6
As a post-exam treat (but also to broaden their horizons), today I showed my class the film Shooting Dogs, about the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Without exception, every student was captivated! (even if some were understandably horrified). They all responded energetically to the film and to post-viewing discussion in class. I wish we were doing the Close Viewing assessment so I could have constructed a whole module around this film. The themes of loyalty, courage, injustice and sacrifice enthralled every student.

As a result, I’ve invited the class to use the film as a prompt for their formal and creative writing assessments. Kat wants to write about injustice across the world, and Joe (who is Morman) is toying with writing a piece on why Faith in God is imperative. I chatted with Kat after class and found out she’s thinking of pursuing a career in law, so I encouraged her to consider this seriously.

Term 2, Week 8
On Friday afternoon last period, as the chairs were put up and the students left class, Kat bid me farewell and said: “You’re a good teacher, Miss – you’re different from the others”. Chuffed, I asked her what she meant by different. She replied “You say things like “rad”, where other teachers just shout at us to do work”. While this wasn’t quite the “you’ve transformed my view of Shakespeare” moment I was envisaging when I got into this job, Kat’s comment absolutely made my weekend, and I feel positive that I’m starting to see a turning point in terms of my relationships with this class.