Memoirs of a Teacher: Part 4 by @TeacherToolkit

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shutterstock Diary and fountain pen. LOMO style. Selective focus memoirs


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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These are the memoirs from my trainee-teacher placement. You can read the context in the footer and other parts of the series here. This is part 4.

Reflections Journal:

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.

shutterstock Blackboard, child hand and chalk. Maths education

Image: Shutterstock

2nd October 1996:

(What should trainee teachers do when they have a free period? Plan? Mark? Observe colleagues. According to my journal, I have nothing recorded);

  • 9F – Period 3+4: No Lesson!
  • 7E – Period 5+6: No Lesson!

(What did I do on that day?)

3rd October 1996:

7A – Period 3+4:

Considering I had to jump in at the deep-end with this group – I have managed pretty well. As I went through each stage of the lesson, (ill-rehearsed in my mind) it all fell in place. Is this normal? The pupils had to design an electronic circuit board onto their novelty card designs. This involved an in-depth discussion on the components used. One of the pupils grasped the differences with ease I went on to explain the electronic symbols and how they could be placed onto a circuit design. It was lovely to see a ‘eureka’ moment in a child …

shutterstock A young black boy has a eureka moment.

Image: Shutterstock

The pupils took a while to grasp a particular problem and I used several opportunities to explain it on the blackboard, (and through a visual-aid I made during the lesson; individually to each pupil). After much persistence, every pupil worked at considerable pace and I suddenly found myself with problems controlling the diversity of work. Is this differentiation? Most of students’ work was well done and I made sure each pupil had completed all their work before I began setting their homework.

I realised during this period, that sometimes you can be fortunate enough to hear that students’ prior knowledge of your subject is good enough and one can jump straight into the lesson. Students had no problems with the topics set and the way I delivered the lesson. Note, this was a scheme of work I was following within the department and not mine. It all fell into place. The pupils were very attentive and cooperative. They listened to me and discussed and questioned our discussions. We had plenty to talk about and one could argue, that the pupils were all very keen to be heard!

I tried to involve all the group by shouting out names, bringing pupils out to draw on the blackboard. Individual pupils were answering the question(s) for class; pupils questioned each other’s answer – questioning me too! All-in-all, it was a very testing lesson that proved to be a valuable and informative lesson.

I am starting to get established with individual groups now. I’m also starting to fit into the surroundings too at school and I am feeling more and more relaxed. The second week of my placement is almost over …

End of extract.


These are the memoirs of my trainee-teacher placement from 1996.

This diary is taken from the 4th school that I was placed in during my 4-year BAEd Design and Technology with Secondary Education (11-18) degree at Goldsmiths College, University of London. This placement was at a comprehensive school in Hextable, near Dartford in Kent. I believe the school is now an Oasis Academy, Hextable. This was a 12-week school experience.

In my school-placement 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 … and also via this blog.


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

@TeacherToolkit Book Vitruvian Teacher Man Resilience Version 2


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