Golden Magic - by Jesse

This may not immediately spring to mind as a 'touch of magic' if you are thinking along the lines of a singing and dancing kind of lesson. 'Golden time,' is the term given in some primary schools as a session set aside as a reward for deserving pupils who are able to play computer games or watch a movie etc. As a high school teacher I use the phrase in relation to 'silence is golden.' I call for a 10 minute interval of silence in most lessons. During this time pupils are not able to speak to one another or even ask me questions. This time is set usually 5 minutes into a written task. By this time, pupils have had a think about what they have been asked to do and are ready to settle and get on with it. However, friends, disruptive peers etc. make it difficult to concentrate. Although pupils will not admit it openly, they actually appreciate 'Golden Time,' as it gives them a chance to get their friends to stop bothering them without them having to tell them that they actually want to get on with their work!- that would be uncool.

Golden Time is a touch of magic because it gives every pupil the right to work undisturbed, it gives the teacher 10 minutes of peace as well as the opportunity to see what each pupil is doing without being constantly badgered. It also looks great when other members of staff pop their head around the door and are amazed that the supply teacher has everything under control and the kids in the palm of her hands. I've often felt like Mary Poppins at this point!

I stress to the pupils that Golden Time is not a punishment, it is an opportunity to get the juices flowing without being hindered, and it’s a way of speeding up the completion of work in a short amount of time, especially if they are 50 minute lessons. It must be sold to the pupils positively and as an expectation not a request. It is also a chance for pupils to develop self-control as well as respect for other people's right to work in an atmosphere conducive to learning.

I give pupils the chance to ask questions before Golden Time to ensure that they are not sitting there frustrated and in need of help during the 10 minutes but I do make it clear to them that if they have a problem during Golden Time, they need to use their initiative and move onto something else rather than sitting their wasting time. If they were allowed to talk to me, then the whole 10 minutes would be filled with endless questions just so they could speak! This defeats the purpose.

So there you have it- wow, the permanent teachers who walk past enviously as you parade the aisles of your room in silence. 

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