What was the most important thing you learnt during your training?
I can definitely say I have learnt a lot during my teacher training year, so much so that I found this question a little difficult to tackle. I could sit and tell you all about my newfound skills of differentiation, live marking and effective questioning. But, realistically, I believe the most important thing I have learnt during my training is you do not have to be the “perfect” educator.
At the very beginning of my training I made my professional twitter account. I began to look through and saw many members of the Edu-twitter crew post daily of their amazingly imaginative and creative lessons. They boast respectfully about their classes’ incredible ability to recall facts because of originally created activities by their seemingly “perfect” teachers. I saw these enthusiastic and resourceful teachers and thought “I want to be like them”. At the beginning of the course, you do not teach that much, however I was spending hours (and I mean hours) planning one lesson at a time. I would create new games, activities, PowerPoints and worksheets. You name it I tried it. I quickly realised that what I was doing was not the same as my colleagues and I began to wonder why? Why am I spending all this time creating things for my students? Why am I sacrificing self-care and personal interests for my Year 7 Set 3? Why? And then, one Sunday afternoon, I was walking in the park I suddenly realised teaching isn’t about being “perfect” or “reinventing the wheel”. Teaching is about being an effective educator. I cannot be an effective educator if I sacrifice my personal and home life to plan lessons. I realised there are many mathematics teachers who are selflessly sharing their amazing resources to benefit the education of the nation. These enabled me to take the inspirational and original ideas I saw on twitter and tweak them to be appropriate for my lesson and students. I learned that this is perfectly acceptable and way more sustainable in my new job role.
For those of you reading this who are thinking of training to teach or are training, take my word for it and learn from my mistakes, you do NOT have to be “perfect”. Effective, present and enthusiastic is enough.
By Katharine Airstone-Thompson