I realise that I have neglected my ePortfolio recently and was shocked when I realised my last post was from this time last year! I am going to aim to write shorter reflections this year so that hopefully I can post more often.
My first year of university has been a bit of a roller-coaster in terms of my own personal development and work towards my teaching qualification. Obviously, this is primarily due to my undertaking of my first school-based placement! Although I have always heard and known that teaching was a very overwhelming and consuming job, I don’t think I truly understood the extent of this until I was out in school.
I remember feeling a little bit lost during the second semester of university; suddenly we were having to think about lesson planning, content, curriculum knowledge, on top of worrying about assignments and tutor visits before we had even set foot in the classroom as student teachers. I remember during the professional practice inputs, feeling overwhelmed at the thought taking charge of a class full of 30 children for a lesson, only to find out we were expected to have them for two full days by the end of our placement! It is funny to reflect and realise that all of this falls into place very naturally once placement begins.
The five main things I wish I knew (and have now realised) after being on placement and completing first year are;
- University can only teach you so much through theory and lectures. I felt that the knowledge given to me through these classes gave me confidence in what I was doing and was ultimately the foundation to my teaching- but I realised that my development as a teacher was going to happen through making mistakes in the classroom and getting hands on experience.
- Mistakes will be made! I heard every lecturer and every student who had experienced placement tell me this, but you don’t realise how important mistakes are until you are in the classroom. I reflect on my first whole class lesson and remember making the mistakes I had read about in textbooks and heard other students talking about, but it was only when it happened to me that I was able to really learn from the experience.
- Teaching is a constant journey and you can’t perfect everything ever, let alone in six weeks. I was lucky enough to have a very supportive mentor who reminded me of this. She emphasised that she had been teaching for 10 years, and she was still constantly learning and reflecting on her practice. She urged me to concentrate on one thing at a time, and not pressure myself by trying to be ‘perfect’.
- Everything will fall into place. After reading about behaviour management strategies, making hypothetical lesson plans and attending subject workshops, I was overwhelmed with information. Once you are in the classroom, it begins to all make sense.
- Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone has a different age, class, mentor, school, circumstance, experience etc. No one person’s placement is the same, and just because someone looks like they are having an ‘easier’ time than you, doesn’t mean they are, or that they are ‘better’.
Although I found my placement stressful at time, and exhausting, I had an amazing experience and loved (almost) every minute. Second year placement excites me, and I cannot wait to get back into the classroom to do what I know I love doing.
Until next time!