Teacher Training Diaries: First Placement.

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Four weeks I ago, I started my first teaching placement. I had been in my home school for seven weeks, I knew the staff, the children and the way the school day worked – I felt prepared. Little did I know that the following month was going to be the hardest, busiest and most tiring month of my life.

The pre-placement stage of my training was a lot of observing, taking notes and settling in to the classroom environment. During this time I still felt like a teaching assistant, I was in my comfort zone and naive about the thought of starting my first placement. On my first day of my placement, I was still very much in the teaching assistant role. On the second day of my placement, it was my turn to teach.

My knees were shaking, my heart was in my throat. I started to panic about the thirty little faces staring up at me from the carpet. I remember thinking why are you scared of a group of five and six year olds? It wasn’t them that I was scared of. It was the realisation that I had a responsibility. To teach these children. To get everything right. Well, I guess I worked myself up, put too much pressure on myself and the result was – my first lesson was a disaster!

My class teacher and mentor informally observed me and she was quite positive considering how bad it really was. We both agreed on the ways forward and I forgot all about it. The next few lessons I taught after that were better, the nerves started to melt away and I actually started to enjoy teaching. My mentor and my course leader came to observe me in my second week and their feedback gave me plenty to work on including deeper questioning when teaching the input to the children, work on pace and transitions within the lesson and most importantly have more faith in myself and have a can-do attitude.

Fast forward four weeks and I am a different teacher entirely to the quivering wreck that I was during those first few lessons. I am more confident, I laugh things off if they go wrong in a lesson now and think on my feet to change them (rather than panic and get myself into a state), and although I have a long way to go, my mentor must believe in my potential or she wouldn’t have let me teach three lessons every morning during my last week on placement and even teach every lesson (Maths, Phonics, English and Science) on one of those days.

I have many ups and downs on this first placement. I have had days which have ended with me in tears wondering if I can actually do this and I have had days which have ended with me humming Christmas play songs at home and smiling about how good my day has been and how much I love to teach. There have been a lot of obstacles that I have overcome to get to the place I am in right now. A few weeks ago I couldn’t plan a lesson, I couldn’t manage the behaviour of thirty children or know how to track pupil progress but now I do and there is still plenty more to learn in these areas and others too.

During the past month, I have seen how strong, confident and capable I can be when I set my mind to it. I have worked through exhaustion and illness to show not only my mentor what I can do but prove to myself that I can actually do this – I can become a qualified teacher. People were not kidding when they said this would be an intense course and the career I am going into is challenging and exhausting but it is also the best decision I have ever made and I know all of my hard work this year will pay off.

I am getting ahead of myself because I’m not even halfway through my course yet and there are plenty more training sessions to have (they resume this week now my official placement is over). But I know how quick this year is going to go and soon I will be a qualified teacher and terrified of having the responsibility of my own class. Although this is a scary thought, I feel a little more hopeful now that with more time, training and guidance, I will get there.

 

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A Story To Tell

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It’s been a long time since I had a story to tell. Writing stories and poems has always been a big part of my life but over the past two years, I’ve been doing it less. I would only feel inspired in small doses and I felt like I didn’t have the confidence to write well any more.

Today I woke up and decided to finally get an idea on paper that has been brewing in my mind for the past couple of months and it felt good. It’s a novel, in the planning stages but at least it’s something. I’ve decided to stop putting pressure on myself with my writing. Instead of giving myself deadlines and expecting too much, I’m just going to write, for fun, like I used to.

I’ve never lost my passion for writing, just my motivation to do it. If I only write my novel when I want to instead of when I feel I have to, I will probably start to enjoy the process again. In time I will get my confidence back and writing will become a daily part of my life again. No matter how much I write, I will always call myself a writer because I believe that writing is not a profession, it’s a lifestyle.

The amazing thing about writing is there is the freedom it brings me. There is no right or wrong, no rules on how something should be. I feel something strongly and I write about it. I create a character in my mind and write their story. I love to explore the beauty and tragedy of life, the questions I want to answer, the places I want to go through my writing.

I’m excited by my latest idea, I have a good feeling that this could be the story I want to tell but if it isn’t then that’s okay, there is plenty of time for me to try different stories and to grow and learn as a writer.

 

Waiting & Wishing

I’m always wishing for something or thinking about something I want. I know that I should appreciate what I already have but sometimes, I find myself stuck in an endless cycle of negativity and hopelessness. I’m tired of struggling. I just want everything to happen. Right now. I don’t want to wait any longer. I’m still waiting for the day that changes everything.

Why is it so difficult to see what is right in front of me? What is this selfish need that all humans have to always want more? I feel like I have fallen into the same trap that everybody else falls into. I have it imprinted in my mind that the only way I am ever going to live a happy life is to get everything I want. But I know deep down that none of it really matters.

I have a long mental list of things that I want to complete, I want to have lots of money and own expensive possessions, get my a dream job, be able to travel the world and possibly have a family of my own one day. But do I really want all of that? More importantly, do I really need all of that? Or is society’s influence so strong that I don’t know the difference between what I really want and who I want to be and what society expects of me?

Dreaming is an important part of living. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better life and wishing for good things to happen but when they start to control your overall happiness, it becomes a big problem. And it’s starting to become a big problem for me. I’m only twenty one years old, why do I feel this pressure to achieve everything and have everything I want right now? I blame society. I blame social media. I blame the high expectations that are set by others. I also blame myself for succumbing to this toxic way of thinking. I don’t need to follow any guidelines, my life is not going to be the same as anyone else’s, I need to start believing this.

I try and switch off and embrace the day, live my life and stop worrying about the future but it’s hard. None of us know how much time we have and I think that urgency causes this need to want everything right now. I want so many things. Maybe I should start focusing on what I need? I already have everything I need. I have amazing friends, a family, a loving partner and a home. I am more privileged than most but I fail to see how lucky I am on a daily basis. I am surrounded by love, I experience happiness every day but I don’t realise it because it is clouded by the pressures of the future and everything I have yet to achieve and material possessions I have yet to own.

I need to stop thinking of happiness as a goal. Life is a journey and finding happiness is part of that journey. I’m not always going to be happy. I’m going to have days that I feel so bad about my life that I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning and that’s okay because there are plenty of days ahead of me that I will experience joy and contentment. I might not be where I want to be right now but I need to start enjoying the present and stop fretting about the future. I’m not perfect, I’m going to make lots of mistakes, I’m still young and I still have so much I need to learn about this crazy and perplexing thing we call life.

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Corpse Pose

English Name: Corpse Pose

Sanskrit Name: Savasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Savasana is a resting pose but has the ability to relax the body and the mind. It can help relieve stress and mild depression, it can help lower blood pressure, reduce headaches, fatigue and insomnia.

How to do it: Savasana is a difficult pose for many people. It appears that you are just lying down on the mat and having a rest but the corpse pose is much more than that. It’s essential that your body should be placed in a neutral position. First, sit on your mat with your knees bent, feet on the floor and lean back onto your forearms, take your time. Life your pelvis slightly and with your hands, push the back of the pelvis towards the tail bone. Return the pelvis to the floor. Inhale. Slowly extend the right leg and then the left leg, pushing through the heels. Release both of your legs, soften the groin and see that your legs are angled evenly. Soften but don’t flatten the lower back.

If you need to, support the back of the head and neck with a folded blanket. Using your hands, lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and release the back of the neck down towards the tail bone. Reach your arms toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor. Rock slightly from side to side and broaden the back, ribs and shoulder blades away from the spine. Release the arms to the floor and turn them outwards, stretch them away from the space between the shoulder blades.

Relax. Take some deep breaths and close your eyes. It’s important to be aware in Savasana, soften the root of the tongue, the jaw, the nose, the skin of the forehead, let the eyes sink to the back of the head. Stay in the pose for at least five minutes. To get out of the pose, simply roll gently with an exhalation onto one side. Take two or three breaths before pressing your hands against the floor and lifting your torso, dragging your head slowly after. The head should always come up last.

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Downward-Facing Dog

English Name: Downward-Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Downward-Facing dog has many benefits, it’s a great pose to energize the body, calm the brain and relieve stress and mild depression. It can improve digestion, help prevent osteoporosis, stretch the shoulders, calves, hamstrings, arches and hands. It can also help relieve symptoms of menopause, it can also relieve menstrual discomfort when the head is supported. Downward-Facing dog can also relieve headaches, insomnia, back pain, fatigue, it is therapeutic for asthmatics and can help people with high blood pressure, flat feet, sciatica and sinusitis.

How to do it: Sit on your mat on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are directly below your hips and your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your palms wide, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.

Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent, if this is enough for you then stop there. Downward-Facing Dog is a beginner’s pose but can be difficult for those with stiff legs. If you are ready to improve on the pose then lift the heels away from your mat. Lengthen your tail bone away from the back of your pelvis. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.

Once you have achieved this, exhale. Push the top of the thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them, keep a slight bend or you will overstretch the muscles in the legs. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.

Adho Mukha Svanasana/Downward-Facing Dog is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose (see previous yoga of the day pose).

Yoga Vocabulary: Sun Salutation Sequence – A dynamic asana sequence, also known as Surya Namaskar means to bow to or to adore. Each sun salutation begins and ends with joined hands (Mudra) touched to the heart. The placement means that only the heart can know the truth.