Wednesday, 23 March 2016

#TMLondon: My Great Form Tutor

Photo by @benniskara

As well as arranging the competitions, prizes and thanking our sponsors I managed a 2 min presentation at TM London:

A short reflection as a current Head of Year, former Form Tutor (something I really miss) and member of Athens 1995 to 2000.

I remember how he was there on there on day one to make us smile and feel relaxed. He told us all the vital information that noone else did. The toilets are there… Lunch is at 12.30pm… Make sure you get a parent to sign your planner for Thursday.

I never felt like we were an afterthought or an inconvenience in his busy day. In fact, he got to the form room 5 minutes early at PM registration if we wanted a chat. I knew he would be able to help any issue that I had. Academic, social or even personal. He was someone who I could really trust.

He checked our uniform twice a day. In the end, we just knew to be smart. At the end of registration we always stood behind our chairs, went silent and he wished us a good morning or good afternoon.

If our form tutor wasn’t there, we always knew what to do. Wednesday was always silent reading day. Cover teachers were always amazed that we got our books out and started reading automatically. Our tutor used to read his book during this time too.

He checked if we had a pen in the morning. If we didn’t, he’d lend us one. We had to spend 15 minutes doing ‘community service’ at lunch to make amends though.

On a Friday, we had a form assembly. He used to insist that we included 3 bits of news: local, national and international. Someone then played their favourite song on his cassette deck, we all listened, even if we didn’t really like the music choice.

We used to get ALL the school news. Other forms came to find out from us. Everything was read out and went on the notice board. We all got involved in lots of extra curricular activities.

Our tutor had his purple folder, he called it the Bible (he wasn’t religious, but said it was the most important book he had). He kept track of everything to do with us in it: letters, detentions, merits...

Lots of other forms didn’t enjoy PHSE lessons, we did. It was clear our tutor knew what he was talking about it; it was like any other lesson. Sometimes better.

We didn’t want to get in trouble, it was like letting the form down. Our tutor wouldn’t shout if we did, but he always suggested we apologised to the teacher we had upset and make amends.

He wasn’t our friend, but he was special to us. We belonged to him, and him to us. We used to laugh when he told us jokes, and we all got very sad when his mum died.

Fast Forward 20 years…

My great form tutor is the front line, she picks up on everything. She is my ears, eyes and heart in 11X. She is the adult the students see twice a day, she always notices first if something is not right.

She knows which students are doing well, and in what subjects, she also knows where there is a cause for concern, and she always lets me know. She has great relationships with the students, and many of the parents.

It may be chance that absence is less of an issue in her form, but she follows up notes straight away and always finds out why they weren’t in school. Her form are always the most involved in every inter-house competition and charity event, even in Year 11.

She has helped every student plan their revision, and discusses stress relieving techniques with them on a regular basis. She also always has an activity up her sleeve: a quiz, a puzzle and thinking game.

Her form never leave registration noisily, they are always ready to work in Period 1 and 5.

She has really high expectations, of everyone, all the time! One student said, “She’s like our school mum”.

Being a form tutor is one of the most human parts of being a teacher.

Great form tutors make it easier for everyone to teach, and everyone to learn.

Form groups are often when the happiest memories are formed, and everyone remembers a great form tutor.

What kind of form tutor are you?

This isn't a true story sadly. It's a mixture of what I experienced at school, what I wanted at school, what I've tried to do, and what I encourage others to try and do. 

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