In my career as a lawyer, I stood in front of many-a-judge in a Courtroom. As daunting as that may seem, for many, standing in front of 30 five-year-olds with their faces all looking up at you hanging on your every word is a much scarier prospect. However, this week, I did it! In this month’s blog, I talk in more depth about my school and training experience.
In recent weeks, I have spent much more time in my “home school”. This is the place where you spend most of your time on a School Direct course. At the moment, I spend three days a week in school, but this will increase as the year progresses. After Christmas, I spend 6 weeks in my “away school” – a contrasting placement at a different school and in a different Key Stage. As I am currently based in Year 1, I will be placed in KS2 (Years 3 – 6) at my away school. This all works slightly differently for students who are on a university-led or salaried route, and you need to do your research to find which course is going to be the best fit for you.
Right from the moment I came into my home school, I knew I was going to be able to thrive here. All the staff have been so supportive and all the children have been so welcoming. I have a mentor at my home school who supports me in the teaching aspect of my teacher training course. I spend my time in school in my mentor’s class and gradually build up my teaching time throughout the year. Everyone on a teacher training course will have a mentor to provide support and guidance. They will assist with planning, help you to develop your teaching practice and carry out your observations.
As noted above, I am currently based in a Year 1 classroom with 30 five- and six-year-olds. I had so many worries about meeting my class: I was worried about being a new face in school; building relationships with the children; being able to remember all of the children’s names and how I was possibly going to be able to keep my eye on so many of them all at once! However, within a few days, I did settle in - I’m very lucky that the children at my home school are so kind, polite and hardworking and they welcomed me in wonderfully.
During my time in the classroom, I have done a wide variety of activities. In the first few weeks, I spent time observing lessons, helping children with their work, marking, helping with LSA/TA support and creating displays (to name just a few!). I have loved being thrown straight into the classroom and getting involved. I am treated as if I were a member of staff. I attend briefings and staff meetings, I have PPA time, I escort the children out to their parents/carers at the end of the day. This is all fantastic hands-on experience for when I eventually have my class as an ECT (Early Career Teacher).
Alongside my time in school, I undertake training every week. We spend one day per week at university engaging with lectures and seminars. We discuss a variety of aspects of the key knowledge required for becoming a teacher including safeguarding, behaviour management and planning. We focus on how our training links to the Teachers’ Standards – these are standards all teachers and trainee teachers are expected to meet. I would suggest you have a look at them online as they are something you will become very familiar with once you begin your teacher training course.
We also have training with our School Direct cohort, usually once per week. These sessions cover a wide variety of subject areas including assessment, well-being, effective deployment of support staff, outdoor learning and so much more. We also have what is called “subject knowledge” training with our School Direct provider whereby we have sessions on the curriculum content to develop our knowledge across all of the subjects we teach. Enhancing your knowledge of the areas contained within the national curriculum is vital for becoming the best teacher you can be and the great thing about primary teaching is that we cover every subject area, so we are constantly learning new things which is something I have enjoyed.
"It's never too early to get started!"
To get ahead, I would strongly recommend you have a read of the national curriculum. Have a look at the different programmes of study and assess your strengths and weaknesses. Are there any areas within which you can begin to develop your subject knowledge? If so, it’s never too early to get started! Keep a written log of all the subject-knowledge development you have been working on by making a note of resources you have accessed online, or books that you have read. This is also something you’ll be able to talk about in any interviews you have for your teacher training course, whichever route you decide to take.
Both the training at university and training with our School Direct provider gradually decreases throughout the year as we take up more teaching time. This month, I have now officially started teaching my class! I now plan, deliver and get observed teaching different lessons across the course of the week. My experience so far has been amazing so don’t forget to come back next month where I will be talking more about my teaching experience so far!
In the meantime, if you would like to follow my teacher training journey and get more insight into the things I’ve been up to, follow me on Twitter at @BAFTeacher.
If you would like to find out more about the opportunities we have for new teachers, check out our latest vacancies on our job page here.