A Day in the life of a Cranbrook boy - Cranbrook School

A Day in the life of a Cranbrook boy

16 May 17 by Nick Carter, Director of Teaching and Learning

My name is Nick Carter and I am the new Director of Teaching and Learning. I began at the start of this term and have been genuinely invigorated by the energy and intelligence of both boys and staff. I was lucky enough to attend the School as a student, and it was heartening to discover that the essential Cranbrookian qualities my friends and I valued so much as teenagers – quirky, free-thinking intellectualism matched with the highest of expectations – still sit at the heart of this place. The changes I notice are hugely exciting; Cranbrook seems committed to beating its own path to excellence.

One of the keys to good teaching is trying to see the world of a classroom through a student’s eyes. With this in mind, I followed a Year 7 student to all his classes last week and did every piece of work and activity he did so I could get a better sense of what a school day really feels like for a Cranbrook boy in 2017, and therefore begin to develop our programmes in a way that meets the needs of our learners better. The exercise was fascinating for me, and hopefully not too embarrassing for the poor student I attached myself to. His classmates were very welcoming, although some didn’t quite understand what I was doing – one student very kindly took me aside and asked if I was really repeating Year 7. He might have been having me on.

In any case, here’s what I realised when I sat back at the end of Period 6 and poured myself a stiff coffee:

10 things I realised when I became a Year 7 student for the day at Cranbrook

  1. These kids are really lucky. Every 50 minutes they plonk themselves in front of a different, trained professional whose sole purpose is to help them understand important things about the universe. Adults should be so lucky.
  2. As a student, all you really have to do is turn up. If you switch off, the teacher is obliged to switch you back on! This feels like cheating.
  3. Getting a question wrong in front of your classmates can be totally humiliating, even with the most supportive teacher in the world. I made a mistake in Latin and my ego is still recovering.
  4. My Drama class threw themselves into theatrical activities without a hint of ego or boofhead restraint. The engagement was physical and intellectual. Is this a Cranbrook thing?
  5. Year 7s take stuff at face value sometimes. One boy asked me if I was actually joining the School in Year 7 and another kid took me aside to tell me that teachers weren’t required to wear Cranbrook ties.
  6. My PDHPE teacher seemed big and scary – no one messed with Sir - but the kids were entranced when he illustrated content with personal anecdotes.
  7. Sitting in the front row sucks. I felt everybody’s eyes boring into the back of my head and all I could see was the teacher. I kept wanting to turn around so I could be part of the conversation but then I was facing away from where the lesson was ‘happening.’
  8. Looking at stuff through a microscope in Science blew my classmates’ minds. One kid to my left actually whispered “Oh my God… this is amazing!” to his friend.
  9. Year 7s are more dextrous than I give them credit for; the precision of their sawing put me to shame in Technology class. I tried to help one kid and totally brutalised his project.
  10. Maths wasn’t nearly so terrifying as I anticipated. In fact, I got tricked into thinking about directed numbers playing what I thought was a game. It wasn’t really a game.