Delivering my recent lectures has cast me down a long memory lane, only this time I was standing on the opposite side of the lectern, trying not to play with the laser on the back of the remote. Before I begin, thank you for the kind faces, well-timed laughs and generous feedback, I really enjoyed speaking with you and I'm excited to do it again soon. If you're interested in hearing anymore, get in contact!
I wanted to share my top five tips for surviving school-based placement.
In the first instance, before I even begin, you need to know we are a possessive breed, and giving up our class to you isn't easy. These 5 pointers, are written from experience with both perspectives; as a student teacher, and a class teacher. Get ready...
This is the time to learn. You will likely hear (and if you haven't, consider yourself now TOLD) there is a frequent disconnect between training and practice. This isn't necessarily a fault, but it can lead to difficulties. Use everything you have learnt while at university and try out new things after a discussion with the class teacher. You will always be trialing something anyway (I maintain the view that if there was a perfect way to teach, someone would have found it by now), so use this to your benefit.
Bear in mind that, upon your departure, the class are still the responsibility of the teacher, and we have ambitious goals to achieve. All of our work up until your arrival is in place to get them there. With your presence, work hard to aid the teacher with the children's journey. You are part of it! Talk about planning, bounce ideas, take in as much as you can. Deal with the fact that you'll be busy. During my own placements, I was teaching an increasing percentage of the timetable (with all the pro-formas and reflections you could imagine) working a part-time job to help pay for my studies, completing the research and writing the relevant assignments, while also trying to be social and sleep. Some students are parents, carers, all sorts; it's a busy time, but put the work in and you'll be golden.
3. Be seen
From experience, this is something I found difficult. One of my placements was in a Year One class, where the teacher simply told me to 'work harder.' The trigger for this was the revamp of the role-play area. I was caught in this strange place between not wanting to step on people's toes, but also wanting to succeed. Her comment crushed me, and is largely the fire that burns inside me now. The compromise that I would suggest to you? Suggest and offer. Then you can't say you didn't try.
Get ready for the most wayward comment you might ever read; some feedback is useless. But you should still listen to it. There will be people you meet during training, and indeed your entire career, who you should feel you should listen to - either due to their status or professional standing - but understand now that the best feedback can come from a wide range of places. Listen to it all, critically. Discuss with those close to you, and decide what needs acting on.
Realise that, although you won't feel like it, you have the most to offer. We have been in this game a long time and we have the (often misused) advantage of experience on our side. However, that can often serve as a blind spot. We are either too wrapped up in our own opinions or too busy to be aware of a really good strategy. Fresh out of training, I am counting on YOU to let me know of something great I'm missing. I promise I'll do the same for you too.
Best of luck! I'm so grateful for you taking on teacher training. We need you!