I am now well into my second ITT placement, returning to the school where I previously worked as Assistant Inclusion Manager before starting the course. It is nice to be back in a familiar setting, although I have had to make a concerted effort to re-establish myself as a classroom teacher rather than a member of the school’s support staff. I am now teaching students who I have known for a long time (my Year 10 class, for instance, were in Year 7 when I started working at the school), and it is wonderful to see them grow up and become young adults. It is also great to be working with old colleagues again, who have been supportive of my career move and often go out of their way to help me in my training.
The final weeks of my first placement went by quickly, the workload intensifying with each passing day. I had become very settled in the school and was sad to leave, having built strong relationships with colleagues and students. I will be returning to the school after the Easter holidays to complete my training, which will be a nice way to round off the course. It is fascinating to compare the practice between the two departments that I have worked in, and I have been able to share my own experiences and resources with colleagues. It is vital for trainee teachers to experience working in contrasting schools, as this gives us a more rounded view of education and prepares us well for our future careers.
Outside of school, a significant part of the ITT course is the writing of essays. These modules seem intimidating at first, but once you have begun to research the topic in hand they are actually very satisfying to write. The first essay was a 2000 word exploration of our subject, focusing on its place in the curriculum and how the teaching of it has developed over time. The second module was 6000 words and involved the designing and analysis of a Curriculum Development Package, a four-hour scheme of work that focused on a particular teaching and learning method. I chose to base my CDP on group work, researching academic theories behind the teaching style, planning lessons in which it was utilised and then writing a detailed evaluation of how successful the scheme was. I put the scheme of work into practice with my Year 7 students, studying the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings in groups of five. The students engaged brilliantly with the topic and the learning method, and the scheme of work was a resounding success. The resulting essay took a great deal of time to complete but was an excellent method of exploring a new teaching style and reflecting on its success. I am currently researching my next essay, another 6000 word piece on the topic of Inclusion within education.
After the Christmas holidays, it became pertinent for trainees to begin looking for employment. The University held a seminar on seeking and gaining employment, with senior members of staff from a variety of local schools coming to talk to us. This was very useful in preparing for job applications and interviews, and our University tutors have continued to support us in seeking out available positions. I have been very fortunate as a school just five minutes away from my house advertised for a History teacher position to start work in June. My application was accepted and, during my interview day, I knew immediately that this was an institution that I wanted to be part of. I was required to teach a lesson to a Year 7 class and was then interviewed by the head teacher, assistant head and head of department. The lesson went well and the interview was a great experience, as I was able to discuss my passion for my subject and the wider role of being an educator, as well as talk about my hopes for the future. Within an hour of the interview ending, I was contacted to say that I had been given the job. I am absolutely thrilled to have gained employment at such as fantastic school and cannot wait to begin teaching there once the course has ended.
I am now teaching five days a week in my second placement school, with thirty-three lessons spread over a two-week timetable. As well as History, I am teaching one class of English and Sociology respectively. This has been really useful, as it has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and explore teaching methods outside my specialist subject. With my History classes, I have had to do a lot of private research to ensure that my subject knowledge is detailed enough for topics that I myself have never studied. For instance, I have recently completed a scheme of work on the Korean War, which I had very little prior knowledge of. However, with the help of my host teacher, I have been able to develop my knowledge and understanding of the topic, and have successfully delivered a series of lessons on it to my Year 10 students. There are few things more satisfying than looking back over the work that my students have completed, highlighting their progression over the course of the last half-term.
With just five weeks left of placement two, it feels like the end of the course is in sight. I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of my ITT year so far, yet I am excited by the prospect of completing my training and embarking on my NQT year. As I have noted in previous blog posts, the course involves a lot of hard work and is relentlessly fast-paced; it is crucial to remain on top of the workload as it would be very easy to fall behind. However, the support of fellow trainees, University tutors and colleagues makes life so much easier, and the professional satisfaction that comes with teaching is a singular experience that makes the job one of the best in the world. I recently spoke to potential West Yorkshire Teaching Alliance applicants and was able to honestly say that this has been the best few months of my life. I look to the future with a great deal of excitement about where my path will lead.