This is the second instalment from our lovely teach first participants. They have now been with us for nearly two weeks, and I’m sure they will agree, their lives will never be the same again.
As everyone had warned me, and as I had predicted, the first few days of teaching flew by. INSET was a download of information that I’m not sure I actually listened to, and my first two days involved about 70 faces, of which now I can remember about 5. I have now taught eleven lessons and it is just starting to feel like I am actually supposed to be the person standing at the front of the classroom as all of my students shuffle in (My students, who do I think I am?!). It is a very strange sensation when they all skulk into the room and assume that as their teacher you are an omniscient being, and it is even stranger when (on occasion) they actually do what you say.
Having not even completed a full week, I’m currently in a bit of limbo. I feel like part of the school, I’m beginning to recognise both staff and student faces and I’m getting to grips with the academy procedures and policies. I’m getting to know my form group, and I’m getting used to time going 10x faster in free periods. It is, however, becoming apparent how much there is for me to learn. Having figured out how to take a register, use the photocopier, find exercise books and locate board pens, I suppose I should sway my focus onto teaching and learning. As the first half term gets into full swing I will be muddling my way through planning lessons and marking books, whilst probably hoping that some divine intervention helps me out along the way.
P.S. The year sevens really are that small.
Going back to school for the first time since leaving it at the age of eighteen can only be described as surreal. All mystery surrounding the staff room has disappeared, Inset days no longer equal three day weekends and I now wait patiently inside classrooms rather than outside of them. Some things will never change; I still managed to get lost (repeatedly) in the first week and the night before my first lesson was still plagued by thoughts of ‘but what if the children pick on me’.
When describing my first week in a classroom, it’s difficult to choose my most memorable moment so far. Explaining why a vampire is technically not an example of a cold-blooded animal is up there, as is spending half an hour trying to convince a group that humans are animals (which, if I’m honest, I’m still not sure they believe). My first experience of being observed by a senior member of staff will also be a moment I won’t forget- not least because it happened just as I was explaining giant African land snail reproduction to a GCSE group.
For my first lessons I used mystery boxes; an inspired idea from the Science Museum to help students to think of science as dynamic and collaborative, rather than a set of concrete facts. Proudly I entered my first lesson, armed with five frozen tins containing objects, sealed shut with a mixture of super glue and neoprene sealer. The idea was that, much like science, ideas cannot simply be proved once but are changed as more evidence is collected with the ultimate answer remaining a mystery. Overall the boxes held up very well; one did not stand the test of a lively tutor group and another had to be retired after the base became dented beyond recognition. Inadvertently, when designing mystery boxes, the Science Museum had come up with possibly one of the best ‘get to know your students’ exercises out there. Some disregarded all scientific thought and attempted to prize the lids off. Some suggested the use of saws, x-rays and chisels. Some waited expectantly to be told the answers. (Incidentally they never found out as revealing the answers defeats the point of the exercise *cue classroom anarchy*).
Overall my first week was exactly what I was told it would be and at the same time nothing like I was told it would be. Crazy, busy, intense, memorable and at times a struggle. My main reflection? I am going to learn a lot.
As their Professional Mentor, it’s very easy to see that they have settled well into their teams and are using them to really understand the application of different pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning, but more prudently, behaviour management. So far, there has been lots of success and little angst. Lets hope this trend continues.