Memoirs of a Teacher: Part 11

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What teacher-training helps a new teacher to be more resilient 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 Memoirs of a Teacher series.

This is part 11.

Reflection 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.

Wednesday 16th October

Year 9 – Period 3 and 4:

This is a very, very tough group to handle. We had planned (J.P.) to team-teach his lesson, sharing the responsibilities so I could cope better, as well as support the pupils by providing them with more help.

This was a very chaotic lesson involving practical work for 20 pupils in a small workshop. My main priority was regulating safety procedures and offering a vast amount of knowledge to pupils who do not know a great deal about resistant material techniques. They seem to have ‘no care’ for practical aesthetics. They are happy making a ‘botch-job’ and finishing quickly. It is quite upsetting …

I need to go back to the drawing board.

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Year 7 – Period 5 and 6:

Once more, my ill-fated novelty card project has been taught for the third time in three days. This group in particular worked well; a very friendly and loud group and I am starting to see some success.

I taught most of the lesson, providing a solid input on what has to be achieved. I provided hands-on demonstrations and received plenty of feedback from the students. J.P. and I worked between the two classrooms and manoeuvred and assisted pupils where and when appropriate.

It is very difficult to supervise 20 pupils with soldering irons (Y7) between two classrooms. It takes a great deal of decision-making and prediction to control the classroom.


At the end of the lesson, I set about setting meaningful homework that would help build upon gaps identified in the lesson. I set aside 10 minutes to re-cap, explain and answer questions. I know the pupils left the classroom with an excellent range of knowledge of the task set. With two minutes to spare – and we have all been there – knowing half-term approaching, I used this as a starting point and asked each student about their holiday plans to get to know the pupils better. The range of answers were very insightful …

Now, I must work out how I can adopt a range of plenary activities to engage students with past lessons or lessons to come. Any ideas?

[End of extract]

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Do you recall your teacher-training years? What would you say to ensure teachers develop a level of resilience to survive in teaching? How can we ensure our workforce stay stuck in the classroom beyond 5 years? You can read the full series here.

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 12-week placement at a comprehensive school in Hextable, near Dartford in Kent. I believe the school is now an Oasis Academy, Hextable.

In my school-placement journal, there are over 20 handwritten pages that I have 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 – a trait required in all teachers – a quality that I still withhold today in my classroom and via this blog.

Contact me if you would like to read the full-digital memoirs;  you can read more about my teaching memoirs in my new book.


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