Memoirs of a Teacher: Part 9

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What keeps a new teacher stuck in the classroom?

These are the memoirs from my trainee-teacher placement whilst a student at Goldsmiths College; published here for newly qualified teachers and those interested in what keeps teachers stuck in the classroom beyond 5 years … You can read the context in the footer and other parts of the series here. This is part 9.

Reflections Journal:

During the process of writing my second book about teacher-resilience and what keeps teachers ‘in teaching’, I have delved into my teaching practice file to rediscover my reflection journal from a 12-week teaching practice, dating October-to-December 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 if a certain type of character or resilience is needed for the classroom.

shutterstock_185327939 Technical drawing

Image: Shutterstock

14th October 1996:

8A – Period 1:

This orthographic drawing lesson is a strong-point of mine, so how on earth did I manage to mess this lesson up?! I guess you should never become complacent, no matter how well you teach a topic.

It took some time to set up, drawing predetermined stages on the blackboard – as is always the problem in graphics lessons. I set about explaining the stages of projection and using visual aids to help demonstrate to the kids how each view is projected. Most of the 50 minutes was taken up, setting the pupils work and equipment on their desks.

I never knew that something relatively simple could be so difficult to teach.

The department has a prescribed fashion they would like all students to use when presenting their drawings; naturally, I had to follow this too! Unaware of the process of setting up an A4 page for a drawing – I messed up and tried to explain each stage step-by-step – I had no prepared measurements which made a simple task slightly more tedious. I explained each pieces of equipment needed and their use, confusing a couple of items in my delivery.

I soon realised the teaching something you are competent in, is made all the much more challenging when trying to teach others how to do things you’ve been doing for years. I was grateful for UR’s intervention to explain the stages a little clearer and also reminded me of the school’s policies (departmental rules).

The time was so limited, pupils had hardly achieved anything. On reflection, students developed a knowledgeable input on how to set up a piece of paper to present a drawing, but that was it! I was fulfilling the reputation of all design and technology departments with flying colours! After UR.’s help, the pupils went away knowing what to do!

It was a learning curve and I later apologised to UR for confusing the way students had presented their work. I thanked him for taking over the lesson and briefing the pupils and I on the relevant ‘department’ stages to present work.

7A – Period 2:

I have taught this lesson approximately 4 times so the lesson was almost perfectly rehearsed. It was a single lesson so I wasted no time introducing the lesson topic and getting the pupils stuck in.

I really know the pupils quite well now, so I have established an excellent rapport with most of them. Year 7 pupils are sometimes very hard to handle as they need constant attention and support in their work. I have a great deal of patience and I managed for a period, but I cannot deny that after some time I felt disheartened my repeating myself to the same pupils explaining myself over and over. That’s teaching! Will it always be like this?

The pupils’ learning was evident in their final outcomes. I praised the pupils who had worked.

Year 9 – Football (after school):

This cross-curricular activity has been a favourite in my teaching throughout my practice experiences. The general lesson involves no planning! The lesson was team-taught with the P.E. teacher, but at stages I would interject with comments and styles involved in learning the disciplines of the game. It was a very short lesson which I enjoyed greatly. It’s nice to get out of the D.T. workshop.

End of extract.

You can read the full series here.

shutterstock_237778156 The young Soccer Team

Image: Shutterstock

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 inHextable, 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 despite 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.

Contact me if you would like to read the full-digital memoirs. You can read more about my teaching memoirs in myforthcoming book, released in the autumn of 2015. Click to pre-order …

Do you recall your teacher-training years? What would you say to ensure teachers stay stuck in the classroom beyond 5 years?

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