Over the course of their training to become fully fledged teachers, our two Teach First participants will be documenting their very unique journey with a series of blog posts. They get to reflect upon their journey’s highs and lows, providing a very detailed, first person, insight into how trainees develop into excellent teachers.
Miss Mayers – Science Participant – @MissGMayers
First Week at City Academy- A reflection
“So Miss are you a teacher?”
I am taken a back for a second. A straightforward and reasonable question from a student, wondering who the stranger at the back of the classroom is.
“Are you our new teacher?” She continues “Or are you a cover teacher or what?”
“I’ll be teaching here in September” I replied vaguely “For now I’m just visiting you all.”
For me, this was one of the most memorable moments of my Teach First career so far. Not because it was exciting, or action packed, but because it was the moment that it finally hit me. I am a teacher.
Although this wasn’t the first time that I’d been asked this question; throughout my observations both before and after the official start of my Teach First training I’d been mistaken as everything from a pupil to an Ofsted inspector. However this time was different, because this time I wouldn’t just be a face in the crowd; a random adult who sat at the back of the class noting the exact choreography of the teacher’s ‘getting the class to be quiet’ routine and shamelessly stealing PowerPoint ideas. This time, any one of the students in front of me could turn out to be my star pupil or the bane of my life.
Throughout the rest of the week I get used to this same question, asked in a variety of different formats and got used to giving the same answer: Yes. And gradually, over time I start to believe this answer for myself. I may not yet be qualified, and my experience may be minimal but the advice from mentors, tutors and peers has been the same: be confident; it’s going to be fine. This was the advice that I took into the classroom this week, both whilst observing lessons and whilst teaching them myself. I’m certain it was this advice that ensured none of my first teaching episodes were complete disasters, and it’s this advice which I intend to take with me in September when my teaching career starts ‘for real’.
Not that I was entirely successful about conveying my new teacher confidence; walking home from a community outreach day with some pupils, I found myself calling to a student walking in the middle of the road, asking him politely to move to the pavement, rather than risk being run over.
“Whatever”. He responded before swaggering off down the road. “You’re not even my real teacher.”
No. I thought to myself.
But I will be in September.
Miss Parmar – Modern Foreign Languages
Starting out a career in education with the ever-expanding charity Teach First is slightly different to the conventional route, and when I say slightly different I mean absolutely terrifying, very intense and a big commitment.
Now that I have made it half way through my training, you would think that I am well on my way to becoming an educational leader, ready to inspire my learners and tackle educational disadvantage in this particular deprived area of inner-city Bristol. This is not the case. What this ‘half-way point’ actually means is that I have completed a mere three weeks of intensive seminars, workshops and school-based sessions (with a few teaching experiences thrown in for good measure). As it turns out, there is a lot more to good pedagogy, leadership and behaviour management than our secondary teachers ever let on.
Despite feeling about as unprepared as I could be, there is one piece of advice that all of the experts that I have been lucky enough to come across have shared; to keep our vision for our students at the centre of what we do, as it will be crucial to making any sort of impact. Going in to an inner-city school with high deprivation, it is very easy to focus on the impact that this status will have on the staff, morale, and the everyday pressures of school life, but as long as I can keep in mind the reason that brought me to teaching and the vision that I have for my students, I’m told that it will all be worth it.
I am 100% sure that, come September, when I am stood in front of class after class of challenging adolescents I will doubt my sanity when I decided to accept my place on Teach First but… I’ll keep you posted.
Already there are very clear insights into the obstacles and feelings of trainees, particularly early in their training. Over the coming months you will get to hear about how they overcome their barriers and celebrate their successes.