Now six years in to my teaching, I’m returning to being a year 7 tutor again this year. It seems a natural time to refocus my energy and aim to develop this pastoral aspect of my professional life.
After Kate Stockings, Head of Geography in Camden, tweeted about the fact she, too, wanted to focus on this aspect of school more this year, we both realised there’s a gap for an established form tutor community on Twitter. While there have been some tweets under the hashtag #FormTutor, we want to resurrect this for the 2019-2020 academic year to make it an online space for tutors to share ideas, queries, or concerns about the most effective way to do all things form tutor.
In addition to all of the compulsory activities we have to do, I’ve outlined 10 extra form tutor ideas I intend to try out this academic year:
- Contact with home. I will create a file with the names of each student in my tutor group as a tab. Each time I call home I will log a brief summary of the conversation. This will really help with my organisation and also help me to remember the narrative between me and the parents of each child. I also plan to call all of the parents of my tutor group within the first month of school.
- Birthdays. @MrThompsonScy alerted me to the fact that Card Factory sell 10 birthday cards for £1 (the geographer in me clearly questions the sustainability of this, but that’s something I’ll consider elsewhere … ) I bought my cards yesterday and plan to do this with my new tutor group.
- Reading while they are. Kate Stockings tried to do this when her tutees did silent reading. It sets a really good example, and it’s certainly true that the best way to create a culture of reading for pleasure is to model reading for pleasure oneself.
- Tutor time bag. My tutor room won’t be anywhere near where my classroom is. So I’m going to use a hessian bag to keep a ‘tutor time’ bank of resources in, which I will take with me to each form time. I plan to include: tissues, reading books, pens, my phone call log book, a pencil case (they can sign in and out to borrow for the day if they forget theirs), pads/tampons, etc.
- Debate cards. I will print out this page and keep it in the tutor time bag, so that if we ever have a spare moment we can have an off-the-cuff debate to avoid lack of structure.
- Visiting their lessons. Particularly in the first few weeks of term, I intend to use my free periods to pop in to their lessons (I will, of course, pre-warn their teachers about this). This should help them to know that I care about them and want to keep up with how they are getting on, but could also prove a useful behaviour management tool if they know that there’s a risk their tutor could pop in at any time.
- Oracy. I am really keen to use tutor time to develop the oracy skills of my tutees. I intend to use some of the excellent resources from @Voice21Oracy to develop this. I plan to blog and tweet a lot about their progress and will, of course, share the resources I create. Watch this space!
- Homework whiteboard. In my school, my tutor group will spend all of their lessons together until the end of key stage 3. Now, whether or not you ideologically agree with this or not, from a tutor’s perspective, it certainly does make it easier to keep an eye on what is going on with all of the group. Because they will have all of the same homework, I’m going to ask for a round-up of all of the homework that is due the following week, and present this on a whiteboard on our form’s display board. Some may feel this is reducing their independence and responsibility for their homework, but I am going to have lots of students from a range of backgrounds in the group and therefore, it is my feeling that, anything I can do to support the completion of homework is worthwhile.
- Star of the week. The last time I was a year 7 tutor (in my NQT year!) I would ask the students to nominate a star of the week from the form at the end of each Friday, explaining the reason for their nominations. It was such a heartwarming experience to see them being kind about one another.
- Teacher-tutor communication. From a teacher’s perspective, the best tutors I dealt with last year were the ones that came to speak to me in person about their form. So I plan to actively seek out every one of their teachers over the first half term to talk about the group’s dynamics and about individuals in the form.
These are my top 10 intentions; obviously I won’t be able to achieve all of this all of the time, but I’ll update with any developments about any of these plans (or others!) as the year progresses.
I’d love to hear about your successful form tutor approaches – the more ideas the merrier!
Keep up with the form tutor community throughout this academic year using the hashtag #FormTutor.