Since September 2020, I have started my ITT and PGCE programme with Wigan and West Lancashire Catholic School Direct and Liverpool Hope University. This experience has elevated my self-confidence, enriched my knowledge, introduced me to various behaviour management strategies, honed my teaching skills, and introduced me to plenty of resources. Moreover, it has granted me an invaluable opportunity to observe many teachers teaching KS3 and KS4 students and participate in non-teaching school environment activities.
I collaborated with members of my department in the development of a new scheme of work for Year 7s. After pitching an idea, that it would be focused around celebrating different cultures through immigrant poets such as Rupi Kaur, I planned a week’s worth of lessons for the whole department to share. These lessons were then forwarded to the head teacher by my colleague as she was really impressed, and the headteacher emailed me directly to say thank-you for my contribution to the school.
Throughout my time at my first placement, I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching my year 8 class, particularly due to the level of enthusiasm and engagement they show in each of my lessons!
After every single lesson I have no doubt that I will finish the lesson on a high and with a smile on my face, not just because I have enjoyed the lesson but because it is clear each pupil is leaving with a smile on their face also! There is no better feeling than the pupils leaving saying, ‘thank you miss, I can’t wait for next week’ or ‘thank you miss, enjoy the rest of your day’. Little comments like these give you the encouragement and confidence to continue as well as the reassurance you need to know you’re making a difference.
In particular with this class, they give 100% in each activity. From one of my Gymnastics lessons, a few of the pupils were struggling to complete a forward roll. When breaking this particular skill down, each pupil was listening and taking on each piece of information I had given in order for them to be successful next time. When the pupils went away to practice again, not only was each pupil trying their best but they were also helping their peers when it was their turn. Each pupil was giving someone in their group a piece of positive feedback and something they could improve on next time. I took a step back and watched the girls with pride, allowing them to teach and train themselves and their peers.
Teaching a class which listens, gives their best in all they do and works as a team is not a vocation, but an absolute pleasure !
A potential positive of lockdown has been that more people are in the home environment. I decided that a short and sharp weekly communication might get students talking about science at home. A newsletter which would combine fun things, items that might interest other family members or carers, but also themes linked to the curriculum. We might have experiments that could be carried out in the kitchen using everyday items, or quizzes with questions about the largest bivalve, or rocks that look like cookie monsters. Simple questions such as: what’s the difference between poisonous and venomous? But also short biographies of some of science’s lesser known figures such as Rosalind Franklin. People who often struggled against the odds, but held true to their beliefs and principles. People who faced challenges, but persevered and made a mark on the world. I think this has the potential to make a real difference to pupils at home.
I am really proud of how I have developed my remote teaching skills. I have been able to find new ways to engage students and further develop relationships that I have built up in the classroom. In my year 10 class today, I used break out rooms to set up groups to work on challenging questions, some based on A’ level content, to really stretch some of these very able pupils. I was able to drop into the rooms and their discussions were fantastic. I was so impressed. Some pupils stayed on working together into their lunch break because they were enjoying the tasks. It is lovely to be able to keep on pushing these pupils to do the best they can even in these difficult circumstances and seeing them rise to the challenge.
I started my Training in September 2020 and will complete in July 2021. Until Christmas I was teaching in the classroom and now as I write this I have been teaching online for a month. Even though we have been under covid restrictions I am very proud of the help I’ve been able to offer my pupils, growing their understanding and enthusiasm for Mathematics.
You may think that it is harder to make a difference, and being a teacher may be less rewarding when online. I can confirm it is different in terms of delivery however the rewards and sense of achievement are the same. Receiving positive feedback from parents and witnessing the pupils growing confidence in Mathematics as the school year progresses is a humbling experience. It is a proud moment for me when the children are confidently and articulately telling me how to expand a bracket over zoom, when online they are getting equally as involved as they are in the classroom and you can feel the anticipation and buzz of who will get asked the next question. Children still want to learn, they continue to react positively to the challenge they face now and in all areas of life. Helping my pupils in the classroom and remotely to be the best they can be is an achievement I and the WWLCSD organisation can be immensely proud of.
One of my highlights is being able to provide face to face teaching for vulnerable and key worker students during the period of lockdown after Christmas. Another would be taking over responsibility for the form group for two weeks since my colleague had to isolate. Doing meditations, discussing current news, and partaking in the general duties of a form tutor was a great opportunity to build relationships.
I feel proud to have motivated some pupils in year 8 to revisit the guitar and start playing it again. One student told me she hadn’t picked it up since year 6. After my lessons on the blues, she now felt inspired to try again. Her ambition is now to be able to play like Robert Johnson.
Having never taught before in a secondary school setting, Catholic School Direct has allowed me to grow skills which I never thought I would have the confidence to achieve. Since starting my placement in September I have been developing my teaching skills within the classroom with endless amounts of support and guidance. Building relationships with pupils is most definitely the best part of the whole experience; children saying ‘Hi Miss’ in the corridors or expressing a love for the subject through your lessons feels like a significant achievement. This job is extremely different everyday, meaning no two days are the same and every day is exciting. I am loving every minute of the course and cannot wait to continue my teaching journey in the future.
From the start of my placement I have been attached to a year 8 form group. I am especially proud of my form and their dedication to fundraising for the Royal British Legion. As a form group we completed a sponsored run and raised over £300 for our chosen charity. This was a fantastic opportunity for the students to come together and get involved with helping others.