hitting a brick wall

Featured Image

This image popped up in my feed today and it totally summed up how I was feeling yesterday – thanks Motivating Giraffe.

Yesterday fisticuffs broke out in my class – as I blinked obviously – and I found out very quickly how seriously that gets taken. Now I have even more observations to go through and lots of eyes on me in general.

I felt a number of things which even now I can’t articulate, although one of them was anger – at everyone including myself – but the more I analyse it, the more I realise…this course, this year has really been hard. So hard I don’t think I have the strength to search for a suitable synonym.

Not only have my family missed out on me, I have been letting myself feel more and more swamped when I could’ve taken steps to remedy it. I was ever the ostrich.

But this difficulty has galvanised the ‘you can do this’ person in me. After a very low evening, I went back to class today serious and ready. I summoned the scary parent in me and we went in together and took that class.

I wasn’t perfect, but I was better. I know I can be a good teacher. I believe I will be a good teacher.


just about swimming

I haven’t been able to add much recently – the merry go round of teacher training has left me with little time for blogging, but I have come back to Austin and his butterfly for my final presentation to my tutors and that made me feel like I wanted to write here again.

I am about to enter the last 6 weeks of training and I can’t quite get my head round how quickly it has all gone by.

As well as the stress and strain of academic deadlines (and in my case resubmissions – who knew Harvard referencing was so important *sigh*) I have been job hunting. Good Lord. That has been the most excruciating process.

I have had lots of jobs and been to my share of interviews, but interviewing for a job as a teacher is something else. In the end I was lucky to find a school that would let me choose the subject I taught for half an hour. Instead of the core subjects, I taught art – specifically how to draw a face – to a Year 4 group.

That school got the best of me. I knew what I was talking about with such fluency that I forgot the subject and concentrated on the teaching – rapport, higher order questions, behaviour management.

I got the job.

While I wait for the next phase of my life to begin I am about to start my 80% teaching placement. As I type I am surrounded by resources and lesson plans for tomorrow (no idea why I am suddenly in italics – I can’t change it).

I am worried – or perhaps apprehensive is the right word. My Year 4 class are what lots of people call ‘pickles’ and bouncing in and out of the classroom as a trainee does not help your presence as a teacher, but I’ll carry on swimming – keeping my head above water – until I reach the other bank.



Austin’s Butterfly

Austin’s Butterfly came up during an Art lecture and had me immediately fascinated.

It’s about learning to critique work – your own and other’s and then acting on that feedback – something we want children to learn to do so that they have the courage to edit and improve and so they begin to understand that the first draft is not always the best draft.

I was charged with organising a set of PSHE type lessons for Year 2 on one of the school values – EXCELLENCE – and I decided to use Austin’s Butterfly as a starting point.

Over the week we discussed what we were good at and why and what we wanted to get better at and how we might achieve that. We explored the idea of improving your personal best. Then we watched the video showing how, with feedback, Austin who was a grade 1 student, improved his butterfly drawing almost unbelievably. In fact one of the children said ‘This isn’t a true story is it.’

To show it was and that they could experience the same changes, I explained the principle of feedback. I had shown them how to do Powerpoint presentations the day before and to start with we critiqued a couple of these – exploring the idea of giving a’ star’ or positive comment, followed by a ‘wish’ or constructive criticism.

Year 2 took to this like a duck to water and we followed on with butterfly drawings – choosing a few in each draft to look at and critique.

As you can see, Austin’s Butterfly is a true story. We only had time for three drafts, but already you can see the improvement. More importantly, Year 2 learned to improve their personal best by listening and acting upon constructive criticism.



Pipped to the post

I have really enjoyed my term in TP2 – Key stage 1 was ok. At least, Year 2 was ok. Not sure I could go smaller. One morning in Reception was enough to remind me why I opted for Juniors.

I liked it so much there that I put myself forward to the Head as a prospective candidate – even though they hadn’t yet advertised. Anyone who knows me will know that in itself, this was an incredibly difficult thing to do – I am not great at ‘bigging myself up’.

So my CV went in and lo and behold, I was offered an interview – and because I have been there this term, I didn’t have to teach in front of him.

Serendipitously I attended an interview workshop the night before and the interview went well, but the Head had decided to interview another trainee too and she got the job.

Needless to say I was disappointed. It was on my last day at school so a bit of a downer, but I am chalking it up to experience. At least now I know I am not talking complete rubbish in interview and the feedback I got was useful for taking forward.

I have to remember that more jobs are coming out all the time and, despite the fact that so many of my cohort seem to be stepping into jobs, there will be one for me. Honestly though, I can feel the panic nudging its way in. One year out of the pay zone is one thing…another is out of the question.


Scoring a hat trick

I’m on the approach to the Easter break and boy, has this term been a steep learning curve. Observation after observation, in Science, ICT, English and French(!)

I’ve planned a whole week of English and dressed up as the Roly Poly Bird for World Book Day, but the outstanding moment for me was three observations in a row scored at GOOD (two of them in one afternoon).

I know people who are getting Outstanding, but I am happy with Good at this moment. Good means that I have responded properly to feedback. Good means I am getting more confident. Good is the beginning of better.

Keeping momentum

February is a funny month. And this term in the teacher training year is odd too.

I have decided that the three terms of the teacher training year are like the three years of a degree.

Year / term one: you’re excited, its all new and the stuff is pitched to get your juices flowing and to help you settle and see how you do. People are mostly kind and helpful.

Year / term two: this is the time of criticism – of yourself and of you by others. Sometimes constructive. It’s also when the work gets ramped up and you find yourself doubting your stamina and your choice to do the course.

Year / term three: busy, busy, busy. Your biggest essays due, it’s the biggest block of teaching, it’s the exam / test / final hurdle that tells everyone you are employable.

And February is when everyone starts talking about getting a job.

Getting a job???!

I don’t feel at all qualified to go for a job. I still feel like I’m on ‘Faking It’ and I’ve got a month to learn to be someone else and trick others into believing this was my job all along.

Hells teeth.

I’m hoping the February feeling is as short as the month.



A low and a high

So I have finished my first little stint of Year 2 and I threw myself into pretty much 50% almost straightaway – I feel like time is racing to the end of the year so I can’t faff about.

I taught one week of numeracy – that was interesting; seeing the progression of the work and how the lessons fit together (or not). A low point came on day four though when I was formally observed and got Unsatisfactory…

Most of the feedback concerns presence in the classroom and behaviour management and, while I am learning a new situation and a new class of children, I know that actually it’s my fear of teaching maths.

I am so aware of what I’m saying and how I’m saying it that I have no brain space left for the other stuff. In a way I feel like I will never crack it – and yet I must. Most of teaching is maths and English. Every day those lessons are on the timetable. Every day I have to face that particular demon.

In the second week I taught English every day. That was interesting too – how to pitch to a younger year group. I managed it, but I am now marking the report they wrote…This marking / assessment business is a long, time consuming and confusing job.

I also taught, for the first time, a phonics lesson. It was 20 minutes and I didn’t recognise the lively, positive person who delivered it. Yep, that was me – and it was formally observed.  I got Good.

Nice to know I can. Not sure I can sustain the energy required…