I’m a trainee teacher – get me out of here!

…is what my colleagues didn’t hear me saying during my second placement. Now, of course this is a good thing, because I was determined to be successful in teaching in key stage 1, when my only experience has been in key stage two. After observing the class and my new daily trainer, I started teaching and it was difficult. I felt like I couldn’t teach anymore. It felt like all my strengths had become my weaknesses. So even though I wasn’t asking to get out of there, I should have asked for help earlier. Luckily, the right people could see I was struggling, and put things in place to help me cope.

I spent time getting to know the children and thinking about the “what” do they need to learn and the “how” are they going to learn it. It focused my planning and got me to think about the various groups of pupils in the class and how best to support them to make progress. This got me to the finishing line. I wish I was able to continue teaching the class because I now know where they are in their learning journeys. Soon I will have to apply what I’ve learnt over the past few weeks to my first placement class and find out what they have learnt since Christmas.

At the end of the placement I can look back and say “I did it!” and I celebrated with a Cadbury Crunchie and a 9.30pm bedtime… but it was worth all the hard work because on reflection, I progressed and eventually I was able to learn from my mistakes. I got to learn who the children were and what strategies I could put in place to try and support them. What is great is that these things still apply to the key stage 2 classroom I will be returning to, and I hope to use what I have learnt to grow my practice further and eventually with a class of my own *gulp!*.

Where did those six months go….

Six months ago, I would not have believed I would be where I am now. Six months in and yes, it is hard, and yes there are moments of self-doubt, but they soon disappear when a child says, “thanks for teaching us Miss, that was a great lesson”. Meeting the halfway mark is something that we must all feel has come around quick, I know I feel like it has! Building up the teaching time (and the marking) is giving us more of an insight of what the real deal will be like.

“thanks for teaching us Miss, that was a great lesson”.

We all have those struggles in day-to-day, and I know in the past week I have had many new and unexpected challenges thrown at me, but we deal with them and we come through them. Maybe not 100% but we can look back and say, “I handled it”, and hey, that’s what our training is for, learning from those plans that didn’t go quite right, picking ourselves up and giving it another go.

So, as we approach half-term (woohoo!), I am making sure I stop for a good rest to allow myself to reflect on the past 6 months, and look forward to the next 6, because they’ll be gone before we know it.

Peter Griffin, Jack Black and the golden arches of McDonalds. Just three of the comparisons that children have made about me in the last five months, you need thick skin to get on in this game! 

Far worse than any comparison to tubby cartoon characters is a trainee teacher’s desire to compare themselves to other teachers in their school. That fear of being compared also starts to become a crippling anxiety that will eventually lead you to doing the best impression of teachers you have seen, rather than letting your own personality and style define your lessons. 

We must remember that those experienced and fantastic teachers we work alongside were once standing there feeling clueless as trainee teachers. Their brilliance has come from years of practice, many failed lessons and endless hard lessons learnt.  Rather than putting pressure on ourselves to be “that good” now, lets take a step back, observe what they do so well and bring it into our own routine.  

It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a “master” of a skill. If we take the teaching year to be 195 days (We never work over weekends or holidays, right?) and take the working day to be from 9-3:30 (I know…) minus your break (a lovely full hour everyday away from it all) by the end of the school year you would have completed 1,072.5 hours of practice (please send all mathematical corrections via email). If we take the 10,000-hour idea on board, we are only at the start of “mastering” teaching. Those teachers who we may compare ourselves to are hundreds, if not thousands, of hours further into their own mastery. 

Give yourself a break and take pride in the progress you are making. Go back and have a look at your first lesson observation, now compare it with your most recent. It doesn’t even compare. Keep working hard and reflect on your own journey. We are getting there, we will get there.

 

Putting CPD into practice

As I progress through my training, I am finding that I am developing an increasing awareness of how children learn. The combination of SCITT training, BCU Subject Pedagogy, practical experience and school CPD is proving invaluable to my development as a teacher.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need has suddenly become tangible and meaningful; working each day with children who may have their most basic physiological needs met, but who may be lacking in feelings of love and belonging, and may be low in self-esteem. At Saint John Wall, I attended a CPD session on attachment which helped to pain a compelling picture of how neglect can affect learning, behaviour and the physical development of the brain. I have been able to see possible links between this and particular students who I work with. As a result of this training, I feel better equipped at dealing with certain problematic behaviours more effectively and sensitively.

 

Finding my own voice

As we begin the Spring term, I really do feel as though I am starting to find my own style, my own voice and I have begun to experiment with some more creative ideas of my own, such as a new reward incentive system for the lower years (Year 8 have responded particularly well to this) and in turn classroom behaviour has improved significantly.

 

Some Top Tips

Here are a few tips and suggestions that I have found useful:

  • Allowing time for responding to marking each day – although this can be tedious and laborious it does help to prevent the panic marking prior to book scrutiny time! Also, marking only makes any sense if children have time to read and act on your comments. This helps to evidence pupil progress and also forms a useful dialogue between pupil and teacher.
  • Knowing something about the children’s life and interests outside school – any interest can be a hook to engage them in learning. Incorporating this into your lesson plans is a great engagement tool and helps makes pupils feel valued.
  • Get your PPA time nailed down. In writing, if possible!

Post 12: Looking Back – Yaseen Quhill

December 2016, feeling stuck revising for countless examinations, planning for my final year project at university, I was lacking in confidence. Those around me seemed to be so much more competent, that’s how it seemed at the time. It was in the back of my mind that I had to start applying for teacher training applications through UCAS as I had planned. Time was running out, and I felt the pressures of life starting to come together, or though it seemed in my little bubble. I couldn’t see where my route was taking me, I just hoped it was progressing. A year ago, my personal struggles at university were everything, and it was difficult to gain perspective. It’s much easier however, as fast forward a year later, now December 2017, I have successfully come through the challenges of university, and managed to gain a teacher training place. I am now well into my SCITT course, with a renewed personal belief, and a clearer image of where life is headed. I always find myself thinking back to these murkier days, as it helps contextualise my current workload, and see the positives in it.

I encourage all, when they feel they are deep in the trenches, cornered by their current tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines, to take a moment to remember a time that wasn’t so great. It’ll allow you to appreciate the opportunistic position you’re in now, and gain some regained enthusiasm within your day.

 

Post 11: Don’t burn out! – Chloe Norton

Countdown to Christmas guys!!!……….

From the feeling of drowning in planning, finding resources, marking and assessing in the first few weeks of this term to how I feel now is astounding! I invested time in myself by making time to go to the gym. This is my get away time to release any tension and stress I was feeling. During the first half term I made no time for myself and this is when I felt like I was burning out and anxious. I now feel like I am looking after my own physical and mental health. The work load, if anything has now increased, but I don’t get this feeling any more. Investing time in myself has made me feel better daily.

Although you will feel like you have no time for yourself and that this course is taking up every second of your life. No job is worth your health. Make sure you have time to eat a healthy lunch and ensure you have enough sleep every night. Easier said than done I know…..Anxiety can also lead to loss of sleep that can lead to anxiety about loss of sleep and so on….Late night marking and planning don’t help either!

Do your best to eat properly and sleep for more than six hours. Your body and your mind will thank you for it. Think of this in the long run. And yourself. Over Christmas take time out and make sure you do things that make you feel good. Spending time with family and friends, shopping etc…..

On that note I am going to leave you with this quote……. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations ………….. Look after yourself and don’t forget to do the things that make you happy

Post 10: Winter is here! – Nicola Kalu

In the words of Noddy Holder IT’S CHRIIIIIIIISTMAS (well almost), as we approach the last hurdle of our first term it’s hard to believe that two months ago was my first time standing in front of thirty six year olds looking about as clueless as I felt. However, as I saw the first sign that winter is here this week – the layer of ice on my windscreen inside and out, I thought about how far I’d come and how much I had learnt this term from planning my own lessons, building relationships with the children and how to avoid catching whichever germs the children bring into class during the cold! My last day this week our classroom went into quarantine as children were dropping like flies hit with the dreaded sickness bug but I was determined to make it to the end without been taken down too!

This week at school has been a busy one! In science this week the children were investigating strengths of different materials which involved the using weights almost as heavy as they were. The idea of a six-year-old holding a heavy weight and dropping it from a height just above me made me slightly apprehensive but seeing how much the children loved this lesson mad it worthwhile! I was also observed by my lead trainer which at first brought dread and nerves. It was going so smoothly until of course one girls tooth fell out. Luckily the lesson continued smoothly and the tooth survived ready for the tooth fairy. After the lesson, I felt great and my confidence was built!

Post 9: Christmas Frogs! – Chanel Knight

This blog post must come with a caution and confession.

 

I have never written a blog before, I just wanted to share that confession and open up the theme for my writing, confessions and acceptance. I do not mean the confessions which open up the closet of skeletons, I mean the confessions of struggle and stress. It is okay to ask for help when you are confused or feeling as if you are on a hamster wheel that just does not stop, no matter how many times you try to get off.

 

This is something new to myself and I have found that it has helped my wellbeing and my teaching.

 

Originally I did not want to bother anyone else with (what I thought) are silly questions which I felt I should know the answer to or challenging things that I did not quite understand or needed clarifying. Now that I have started to open the box of the festive frogs (I am allowed to make Christmas references, it’s November!) and work my way through that to-do list that felt like it was turning from a list into a scroll, I have asked for help and feel like the scroll is turning back into a little list that is manageable.

 

From just being honest with myself and accepting that it is okay to ask for help has helped me progress within my teaching, turning from a slightly unconfident teacher to now being called a students ‘favourite teacher’.

 

Always keep in mind that you have multiple people around you to help lighten the load and ease any stress that may be effecting your life outside of the school.

 

Keep powering through and being amazing at what you do, and remember it’s not long till Christmas!

Hello guys! For the ones who are reading the blog during half term (well done!), I am Mirian, the Spanish trainee. To be honest it has been a pretty busy week, doing a lot of planning and finishing my assignment, because I am going to enjoy my half term in Italy! Anyway, in this post I would like to express how, from my point of view, life is about goals. I remember one year ago I was lost in the fields from Hereford (literally only sometimes) trying to improve my level of English, and here I am one year after trying to encourage my pupils to learn Spanish. It has been a long way, and honestly I never thought I could actually do it!  

These seven weeks have been quite intense, and sometimes I have felt I was choking with all the frogs stuck in my throat!! Fortunately, everything comes to normal at the end and you can breathe again. I am sure most of you have felt like me, but at least we are doing what we love, and I definitely love teaching Spanish. I am really grateful to all the people who have helped me during this time. Sometimes it is really difficult to get used to new places, routines and of course language! But I feel much better knowing that I have colleagues that will always help me.  

So going back to goals, I can say I have achieved the goal of enjoying this first half term, getting into the teaching routine and actually loving it. Of course, nothing is perfect and sometimes I feel some students would rather be eating frogs (literally) than learning Spanish, but I will not give up on them, and hopefully they will finish the year saying “me gusta español”! 

This post might not be very informative, but I felt like I wanted to share with you all my personal experience rather than some thick theory…I am sure you are having enough of that with your assignments, and talking about that, I am going back to writing mine! 

Always have your goals in mind and -it goes without saying-: NEVER GIVE UP! 

Post 6: A juggling act! – Aaron Foy

Blog 6: Life is just a juggling act 

Aaron Foy 

 

From hugging strangers on school benches back in July, to the final week of our first half term. This has got to have been the fastest three months of my life. Blink and you well may miss a day or even two.  

 

My first 6 weeks in school have generated a mixture of feelings and emotions. From the apprehensions of that first day in school to the excitement of delivering my first full maths lesson. Every day brings something new, a different challenge or experience. My latest challenge was trying to work out how to carry a ‘bag for life’ full of folders, another full of maths books and most importantly my morning coffee, all before 7:30 in the morning. 

 

As my time teaching builds up to the first milestone of 40%, I am starting to get a more realistic feel for how challenging this year is going to be. Balancing planning, marking, assignments and life in general is going to be a juggling act. Having a baby due in April is going to add another ball into the mix. With the inevitable sleep deprivation likened to SAS training only adding to the fun, only Bernhard’s watch can save the day.  

 

 

This week I went and observed phonics in year 1, the children were quite shocked to see a new adult in their room especially of my size and with a beard. One girl at the back of the class room started shouting, “It’s the giant, It’s the giant!” I later found out that they have just finished the story of Jack and the Bean Stalk, so who knows what that little girl thought was happening. The lesson was well paced and offered a good insight into the structure of a phonics lesson.  

 

I have delivered a few English starters to help ease me into teaching a subject that I am more hesitant about. I have been more prepared to start teaching full maths lessons as this is the subject I am most confident with and where my passion lies and hope to share this passion with the children in my class. I have really enjoyed my teaching experiences so far and I was pleased to receive positive feedback from my daily trainer. 

 

Having nearly finished my first frog, which also happens to be my first ever blog, I am now thinking of tackling the next one. I may have grazed on it over the past couple of weeks but now I think it is time to bite the bullet and get it finished. Hopefully in time to move onto the final one. This one has been swimming in my bath tub since August… to paint the garden shed. Hopefully then I may be able to relax for the last part of the half term break before it is back to the grindstone, back to eating frogs for breakfast back to juggling bags for life and coffee mugs. 

 

I hope everyone enjoys their further experience week, have a fantastic half term and well-deserved rest.  

 

Terrar a bit!!!