Memoirs of a Teacher: Part 2 by @TeacherToolkit


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@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday...
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These are memoirs of my trainee-teacher placement from 1996. This is part 2.

During the process of writing my second book about teacher-resilience and what keeps teachers stuck in the classroom, I have delved into my teaching practice file to rediscover my reflection journal from a 12-week teaching practice in 1996. I am reading the notes to see what issues have changed (if any) in teaching over the past 20 years. I am also keen to understand if there are any indicators in my own memoirs to suggest a certain type of character or resilience is needed for the classroom.

Reflections Journal:

These memoirs are taken from the 4th school that I was placed in during my BAEd at Goldsmiths College, University of London. This was a comprehensive school in Hextable, near Dartford in Kent. I believe the school is now an Oasis Academy.

In my journal there are over 20 handwritten pages that I kept as part of my teacher training. My tutor regularly asked me to write my reflections after a very long commute home; what I was totally ignorant of, was that during my 4-year teacher-training degree, I was laying the foundations for me to become a reflective teacher; something that I still (thankfully) withhold today …

shutterstock Confident bar owner. Close-up of handsome young male bartender in white shirt leaning at the bar counter and writing something in note pad

Image: Shutterstock

30th September 1996:

8A – Period 1: Here I am again with my first lesson ‘out of the way’ and feeling a little more confident. Still, the lesson had its good points as well as many areas for development! The first problem I failed to pick up on, was that I being too vague about what I actually wanted the pupils to do. I then had to bring them around the front desk and slowly explain the process of designing the ‘tipping’ section of the mechanical toy all over again. (*note to self)

Because of the practical elements and the short space of time, my focus was spent walking around the classroom supervising everybody – as they are so young. Many mistakes were being made; odd jobs and complete disasters! I used a variety of demonstration models to explain the differences of what is required (and what is not) to the whole class. This was quite beneficial for me – as I could gather the group around, learn their names and talk to them casually about a few examples of work. The pupils were genuinely interested and worked quickly. I must create more strategies to minimise the time wasted.

Waiting for pupils to put their coats away at the beginning, and tools away at the end of the lesson is a real pain. Something I need to work on …

shutterstock Tools in a carpenter's workshop memoirs

Image: Shutterstock

Year 9 – Period 5: To add a variety of school life to my timetable, I have volunteered to teach a few PE lessons. The particular activity today was football. After wasting 10 minutes with a support teacher waiting for keys, we finally got out onto the fields to begin. The lesson was so short, we didn’t do anything constructive! I tried to add new dimensions to my teaching by introducing more competition; learning rules, much to the students’ dislike. It just didn’t seem to matter to them!

It was my first lessons teaching Year 9 boys (who seem to think they know it all!). The time was little and it was pouring down with rain – I was soaking! We had to abandon the lesson to keep the pupils dry. A nice introduction nonetheless to something different.

Year 7 – Period 6: A second P.E. lesson in one day! Hockey, not my strong point; it was welcoming to observe year 7 who didn’t know much more than me! I was very impressed with the way S.B. handled the pupils. It seemed to me to be an ideal lesson; asking questions, showing techniques, pupils demonstrating, adding humour, fun and a serious aspect of learning to sport being taught. I spent 10 minutes coaching 3 girls, demonstrating attacking and defending techniques. It was good fun and I think I’d really love to teach P.E. I’m not sure how my subject knowledge would withstand not that I am reaching the end of my degree in design technology and secondary education?

I was asked by a member of staff to coach a year 11 football side after school hours the following day. This was to play a game against another school. Naturally I obliged …

shutterstock Kicking in the mud footballImage: Shutterstock

You can read more about my teaching memoirs in my forthcoming book, released in the autumn of 2015.

A very young TT.


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