Was it a waste of time?

My year 10s had just had their storyboards assessed and approved.

They were supposed to get started with planning for the next  stage of their multimedia projects; maybe even get started developing components of it.


My year 10s were visibly unsettled today at period 1. They said they had an English assessment next period – speech. They exchanged stories of how late they went to bed to get this ready and the ‘winner’ (not in my class) went to bed at 4:30 a.m. How anyone could function with such little sleep is beyond me!

We ploughed through the work that needed to be done but they were easily distracted and not really focusing.


In the end, I succumbed and gave them the last half hour of the lesson to practice for their speeches. They had to pretend it’s the real thing so they had to perform in front of everyone as against doing it quietly in their own ‘corner’.  I figured, they weren’t really being productive in my subject so they might as well be productive in something.

Here’s a gist of what happened:

  • I had a glimpse of their creativity, literacy and thinking skills in another context (English)
  • Students took on roles voluntarily as time-keeper and editors
  • Students gave each other constructive feedback
  • I gave constructive feedback
  • Students felt more settled and ready to face their assessment, even those who did not perform but still got editing help
  • We’ve got a concrete example of positive collaboration – one I’m going to keep promoting in MY class

Part of me feels like I’ve been sucked in. Yet, was it really a waste of time?

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8 thoughts on “Was it a waste of time?

  1. Ed says:

    Not a waste of time!

    You showed your students that you are a human being, not just a teacher (!). You modeled empathy, demonstrating an awareness of their needs in the moment and they will remember this. Sounds like there was much mutual learning that had nothing to do with curriculum!

    • malyn says:

      I teach all year groups and I think my year 10s are the most stressed at this time. Sometimes I think we over-assess…we mean well but ….

      Lots of mutual learning and some to do with the curriculum….just not mine. haha. Good learning, nonetheless, and one we can tap into in the future. It was a good investment methinks….or hope!

  2. Britt Gow says:

    Well done Malyn – you demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility and thinking-on-your-feet – all very important characteristics for teachers. I am sure this time wasn’t wasted and that your students will make up for lost time in their respect for you. As long as it works both ways and Science gets priority sometimes too!

    • malyn says:

      Haha. Science might just make it into my classroom….somehow. I’m all for making connections with other subjects. I might ask them how they’re going in Science.

  3. g3moStone says:

    I do this kind of thing, especially at times like this when you just know they’re not really able to focus on anything but that other subject. I think it’s important that we don’t expect students in this day and age to fit their brains/learning/thoughts into the time slots the timetable decides for them. Timetabled lessons are not really what they’re going to be facing out in the real world where they’ll be having to schedule their time themselves to manage multiple commitments.

    I have the luxury of having many of my students for two separate subjects so I’m able to let them pick and choose what they want to focus on at the time when we have flexible lessons – like projects – running in both classes. If they’ve got their multimedia mojo on rather than their coding mojo on for a particular lesson I let them work on whatever their mojo decides. It all balances out in the end 🙂

    And as you said you can get a glimpse of just what those other subjects are getting up to. I wish I’d been in that class! Great post and thank you for sharing 🙂

    • malyn says:

      It warms my heart when people I know visit and leave comments (actually, I haven’t met face-to-face 2 out of 3 above!).

      One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a teacher is that you cannot force anyone to learn; the best you could do is to provide opportunities, encouragement and support. Individuals are responsible for own learning, whether they realise it or not. I used “choose to learn” as a mantra in the past.

      The project nature of DT subjects gives us much flexibility in many ways…thank goodness!

      p.s. you don’t need to be in my class – you’ve got yours and from the sounds of it, they are classes you would have wanted to be part of. yes?

  4. Justin says:

    Sure you may have lost your content session, but look at what you’ve gained!

    From what you’ve seen of their literacy skills how can it make your sessions with them better?

    • malyn says:

      They write and speak very well because of strong vocabulary but I don’t think they’re good at linking, i.e. flow of ideas is a bit weak…and hence points are diluted. In subjects like IST and IPT where brevity is encouraged, flow/structure is important. They need stronger intro and conclusion that prefaces/consolidates everything.

      Does that make sense?

      Also, in their analysis, they all used language tools like figures of speech, tone, etc. Every KLA has those. I can now make this connection for them. That is, I can say that when they analyse an information system, for example, there are terms/frameworks (or tools) they can use.

      I noticed those who use big words to sound impressive but not necessarily understand. I could harness that – teach the big words that will make them sound more impressive – or discourage it – teach that big words used wrongly will make them look stupid.

      The biggest gain I think is in the spontaneous collaboration and their realisation that it really aids learning.

      Good question Justin! I hope I’ve answered it.

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