In this month’s blog, I reflect on the time I have spent teaching so far and what you can expect when the time comes to take full responsibility for your class for the first time…
After having spent the first half term mainly observing my mentor teach, between October and Christmas, I began to take up more teaching time. This is something that increases slowly as you begin to gain confidence and although becoming responsible for the learning of 30 children sounds daunting, I have learned so much already.
My first lesson was a “team teach” lesson whereby my mentor and I shared the teaching between us. This was a good way to ease into teaching and develop a class presence. Once I felt comfortable in doing so, I planned and taught my very first solo lesson. Don’t panic – you will not be thrown in at the deep end! Your mentor is there to guide you through the process. They will assist you with your planning and will be in the classroom with you to guide you or to jump in if anything goes awry.
At the end of each lesson, your mentor gives you constructive feedback and you are encouraged to reflect on your teaching too. This is a crucial part of becoming a professional teacher – by reflecting on our practice we learn from our experiences and this helps us to become better teachers. It’s helpful to start thinking about reflection early on, even if you are just undertaking work experience or simply observing a lesson. Think carefully about the lesson you have seen.
As you become more confident with your teaching, you will begin to take up more teaching time. By the end of this term, I will have observed a lesson in almost every subject and taught all three core subjects (English, maths and science) as well as some foundation subjects (Art, D&T, history).
One of the most important aspects of delivering a successful lesson in any subject is to have effective planning. At university, we use a planning proforma which encourages us to break down our planning by looking at the area of the curriculum we are teaching, thinking about the learning objectives and learning outcomes, and by considering the pedagogical choices and teaching steps.
Translating the planning into practice is the best part. You have 30 children relying on you to really ‘know your stuff’ and help them to learn it too, and this level of responsibility is really exciting. This is not to mention all the other elements of the lesson you will have to juggle including managing behaviour, ensuring all pupils can access the lesson and all other manners of other things that are part and parcel of being in the primary classroom. Every single day you overcome a new challenge and learn something new. There is a lot of ‘thinking on your feet’ as the lesson progresses so being alert and flexible is so important as things may take a different route than what you had initially planned for.
For me being able to witness that ‘Eureka!’ moment a child has when something you have taught them finally clicks, is priceless. I had a pupil come up to me during one of my recent lessons and tell me that he was so excited about what we were learning he felt like he was going to burst! These are the moments you have to treasure and remind yourself of when things aren’t going according to plan.
In next month’s blog, I will be reflecting on the run-up to Christmas in school! It’s the time of the year I have been looking forward to and I cannot wait to tell you all about it. I will also be looking ahead to my upcoming “away placement” and discuss how I have been preparing for that. 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.