My fellow WYTA trainees and I have now reached the end of course after nine intense but thoroughly enjoyable months. Our third and final placement lasted for only seven weeks and went by very quickly. I had originally planned to return to my first placement school to complete my training but, due to unforeseen circumstances out of my control, this was not possible. Instead, I completed the course at the school where I had done my second placement and previously worked as Assistant Inclusion Manager. Although I was disappointed not to be returning to my first placement school, where I had built strong relationships with staff and students, remaining at the same school for placement three was useful in building up momentum and consistency as the end of the course approached.
Though shorter than placements one and two, the third placement is an invaluable opportunity for trainees to reflect on what they have achieved and the skills that need to be improved upon. All trainees are judged on their adherence to the national Teaching Standards; as I began placement three, I had been graded “Outstanding” for all but three of these Standards. Along with my in-school subject mentor, I was able to put in place targets designed to help me reach “Outstanding” in as many areas as possible. This was successful, as by the end of the course I had been graded “Outstanding” in all but one of the Standards. The Standard for which I was graded “Good” was lesson planning; my subject mentor felt that I needed to develop my understanding of long-term lesson planning, particularly with regards to unit objectives and outcomes. This is a fair assessment, and this will be a key area for development during my year as a Newly Qualified Teacher.
As well as the assignments that I spoke about in my last blog post, all trainees must submit an electronic folder to their University tutor evidencing how each Teaching Standard has been met. This is a laborious process as it involves providing seventy pieces of evidence spread out over the various standards. However, it is an immensely satisfying piece of work to complete, allowing trainees to reflect on everything that they have learnt and achieved during the course. The amount of skills and knowledge trainees acquire over the nine months of the training is huge, and the evidence folder is perhaps the greatest representation of this.
This year’s cohort of WYTA trainees have had a hugely successful year. We have all passed the course and everyone has secured employment for their NQT year. My first full-time teaching post began immediately after the end of the course, and I am now six weeks into the job. This has given me little chance to rest since completing my training, yet the benefits of beginning my job early are numerous. I already feel established in the school and have been able to spend time familiarising myself with vital protocols and systems. My departmental colleagues have been supportive and welcoming, and I have already begun to build friendships amongst the staff group. The transient nature of teacher training prepares you well for “starting again” in different educational institutions and puts NQTs in good stead for making a positive impression upon beginning their employment.
Teacher training is the most challenging endeavour that I have ever undertaken. The workload is relentless from the start and becomes increasingly demanding as the course progresses. There is never a sense that your work is finished, as there will always be another in-school challenge or University deadline looming on the horizon. Despite this, it has been the most professionally and personally stimulating year of my life. In an earlier blog post, I stated that teaching is fun, a statement that I wholeheartedly stand by. A classroom should be a vibrant, calm and welcoming environment where children feel comfortable developing new skills and expressing themselves without fear of being judged. Being a teacher is one of the most important jobs in the world and I look forward to being part of the profession for many years to come.