E is for Essays

C (2)Oh essays, how I do not miss you.

I handed in my final essay in April and it was the greatest feeling. What you can’t prepare for during your teacher training is the amount of hats you have to juggle. There is the hat that you wear when you are on training days with the other students, there is a different hat that you wear when you are in the classroom and there is a third and final hat you wear when you take part in university days and work towards your assignments.

The purpose of essays and assignments during your training year is to research and learn the theory behind teaching and use this when you start teaching in the classroom. Every teacher training course does assignments differently, depending on your provider or whether you do the school direct or university based route to teaching.

On my course there were a few assignments staggered throughout the year and in between there were lots of university modules to complete including Raising The Achievement of Children and High Quality Learning and Teaching.

When you’re not juggling university, placements and training sessions, you are constantly working on the dreaded FILES. I could create an entire post on my dislike for evidencing and files but it would quickly turn into a rant of how much I hate paperwork (I prefer to be in the classroom actually teaching!)

My best advice for tackling essays and assignments is research and reading. However, finding the time to actually achieve this is tricky. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘make the time’, but on your teacher training year… there actually isn’t enough hours in the day. You could get up at 6am and leave school at 6pm and then work solidly until midnight (I did this on many occasions… bad student teacher) but you still would not have the time for all the ‘extra reading’ the university wishes you to do. Just try your best and blag where you can. Prioritise reading the texts that will help you write your essays and improve your overall practice.

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D is for Development

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Development is the big umbrella which you stand under during not just your teacher training but your whole teaching career. Professional development is an ongoing part of your journey and you will always find ways to change and improve your practice to become a better teacher. There are a variety of extra courses and training opportunities to ensure that as practitioners, we are always the best we can be to give our children the best possible education.

Sometimes your lack of development as a teacher can feel like a dark cloud looming over you, well, that’s my experience anyway. During my teacher training, I have not been fully supported by my mentors in the way that I truly needed. I often felt stifled and unaware of what my targets were and what I needed to do to improve my teaching practice. As a result, my development was affected and I didn’t make the big strides that I expected to make by the end of my training year. Nevertheless, I have a stronger support system at my school in September that will ensure I reach my full potential.

Development is a long process. But sometimes development can happen almost overnight. I remember one specific time this happened to me on my second placement. I spent the first week feeling unsure of the class I was in and what I was teaching, then one day, almost instantly I started to flourish. It all comes down to one thing… confidence. Unfortunately, I was in short supply of this for a long time due to a few circumstances that made my teacher training journey an unhappy and unsupported one.

Development as a trainee can be a bumpy road and how you develop and improve as a teacher will depend entirely on your personal teacher training journey. I was unfortunate enough to have some negative experiences during my training that damaged my confidence, made me question my ability to teach and even made me question whether or not it was the right job for me.

Fortunately, I’m a strong bad-ass woman who takes no shit from anyone and eventually after a few moments of tears and tantrums, I rose from the ashes stronger than ever, believing that I could do it… I could teach. My teacher training course has taught me to fight for what I really want. It has taught me that I can do it on my own if needs be. It has taught me that if I am surrounded by the wrong people, it makes a negative impact on my overall happiness and confidence in the classroom.

The rainbow in my dark cloud is landing the perfect job in September. At a school that are warm, caring and supportive. That truly want me teaching there and believe in my ability to succeed. I like to think that the negative experiences and obstacles I faced were to teach me a valuable lesson on having resilience and never giving up and I guess it worked!

Teacher Training Diaries: Learning & Practice.

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Well I made it! I survived my first seven weeks as a trainee teacher. It was a long slog of training, learning and observing. I have had training sessions on Mathematics, Science, English and different types of assessment. I have started my first university module ‘Raising the Achievement of Children’ and had half the autumn term to get to know the children in my home school.

Now, the real work begins! It’s half term now but when I go back I will begin teaching a full class of 5 and 6 year old’s. Starting with six lessons a week, working up to fifteen by the fourth week, yikes! I feel like this part of my teacher training journey is ‘learning and practice.’ Taking everything I have learnt so far and putting it into practice.

I know you have to teach to become a teacher but the thought of teaching a full class, on my own, makes my palms sweat! I know that once I start doing it, teaching will become second nature to me but it’s the anticipation, the worry about what may go wrong that keeps me up at night. I’m not the only one that feels this way. There are twelve other people in my school direct cohort and they all have the same anxieties.

The teacher training course is going to step up a gear as I will have to juggle writing lesson plans, teaching lessons, keeping my files up to date, writing university assignments and pre-reading and tasks for training days. I’m trying to keep a work/life balance the best I can because if I am going to make it through this training year, I need to learn to take a break and have some time for myself.

When I go back after this break, I will be in my home school for four whole weeks and then I will be returning to the old routine of three days in school and two in university and training. Hopefully in my next post I will be more confident in my ability to teach and will have many stories to tell about the lessons I have taught. I will be reflecting on what went well and what I still need to work on, as that’s what being on this journey is all about, the ups and downs of what it takes to become a fully qualified primary school teacher.

Teacher Training Diaries: First Week.

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I survived my first week of teacher training!

I’m studying a Primary PGCE through School Direct which means I am currently in school three days a week and training for the other two. It has been a long and tiring week but I have loved every second of it.

The week began with a visit to the university that is providing my PGCE, I went there with the rest of the school direct cohort and we have really bonded as a group. It’s nice to be on this journey together and to talk about any worries we might have about the upcoming year. There were many inductions on that day including: how to use their referencing system, how the course is structured and a short seminar on systematic synthetic phonics.

I was really nervous on Tuesday morning, knowing it would be the first day in a school as a trainee teacher. St George’s is my beginning and extending placement, which means I will be there for the majority of the school year. There is a short amount of time after Christmas where I will be at another school in KS2. In this placement, I have been put in Year 1/Year 2, a lovely mixed class full of happy five and six year olds.

I was a little apprehensive on my first day, but after the second day I was settled and felt really welcome, not just in my classroom but the whole school. My mentor (who is also the class teacher) is really supportive and I’m sure we will have a good working relationship this year to get me qualified to a high standard.

On Thursday and Friday, I did training session on unions, teaching and the law, safeguarding and behaviour and learning. There was a lot of information to take in during a short space of time but I know that the knowledge I have gained will be beneficial to my teaching practice.

Some of my highlights of the week were: playing with the children on the playground and pretending to be dragons, learning about the teaching standards, singing phonics songs and helping the children with their cursive writing. I’m eager to be back in school next week and excited to see what I will learn on my training days too.

Life Is About Balance

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Lotus Pose

English Name: Lotus Pose

Sanskrit Name: Padmasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Padmasana is a great pose for stimulating the pelvis, abdomen, bladder and spine. It has the ability to calm the brain, stretch the knees and ankles and can ease sciatica and menstrual discomfort. Consistent practice during pregnancy can also ease childbirth and some traditional texts say that doing Lotus Pose can destroy all disease and awaken kundalini (a shakti energy found in the base of the spine).

How to do it: Lotus pose can be quite difficult for beginners, don’t worry about looking like the picture, just do what you’re comfortable with. Start by sitting on your mat with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring the lower left up into a cradle. The outer edge of the foot is notched into the crook of the left elbow, the knee is wedged into the crook of the right elbow, and the hands are clasped (if possible) outside the shin. Lift the front torso toward the inner right leg so the spine lengthens (and the lower back does not round). Rock your leg back and forth a few times, exploring the full range of movement of the hip joint. Don’t push yourself too much, if you have hip pain then don’t go any further.

Next, bend the left knee and turn the leg out. Rock your right leg far out to the right, then lock the knee tight by pressing the back of the thigh to the calf. Next swing the leg across in front of your torso, swiveling from the hip and not the knee, and nestle the outside edge of the foot into the inner left groin. Make sure you bring the right knee as close to the left as possible, and press the right heel into the left lower belly.

Now lean back slightly, pick the right leg up off the floor, and lift the left leg in front of the right. To do this hold the underside of the left shin in your hands. Carefully slide the left leg over the right, snuggling the edge of the left foot deep into the right groin. Again swivel into position from the hip joint, pressing the heel against the lower belly, and arrange the sole perpendicular to the floor. Draw the knees as close together as possible. Use the edges of the feet to press the groins toward the floor and lift through the top of the sternum. If you wish, you can place the hands palms up in jnana mudra, with the thumbs and first fingers touching.

Padmasana is the sitting asana, but it’s definitely not for everybody. Beginners may need to use other variations of this position. At first, only hold the pose for a few seconds and quickly release. Remember that Padmasana is a “two-sided pose,” so be sure to work with both leg crosses each time you practice. Gradually add a few seconds each week to your pose until you can sit comfortably for a minute or so. Ideally you shouldn’t attempt this pose if you don’t know what you are doing or how to correct yourself.Yoga Vocabularly: Jnana Mudra is the most common yogic mudra used in meditation. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Jnana’ means knowledge or wisdom and ‘mudra’ means sign or gesture. It literally means the psychic gesture of Knowledge or wisdom.