What’s The Most Important Thing You Learnt During Your Training?
The most important thing I learned during my training was “targeting students”. As I’m writing this, I’m imagining cross-hairs moving around the classroom. Sounds ominous but I’ll explain.
Before starting my PGCE, I was a private 1-1 tutor for three years and thought this experience would help massively with my journey of becoming a classroom teacher. How wrong I was…
I thought I could enter the classroom and teach how I did in my private sessions and my classroom students would become just as successful as my private students. However, there was so much I had missed. How am I going to check that all my students understand? How am I going to generate work for them that I know they can do but can still give them a challenge? How do I develop a solid student-teacher relationship with all of them?
In my private sessions, I could directly ask my student a question to check for understanding and have a discussion about the problem and how they worked it out. This is very effective for one student but when teaching thirty students at the same time, it’s certainly not efficient. While having a discussion with one student, what is happening to the rest of the room? You’d hope all of your other students would be listening intently, hanging on every word you or the other student is saying. Most of the time, they’d be off task, chatting with a student next to them or looking out of the window.
However, on one of my school experiences as part of the course, I had one mentor who reminded me that I am “the adult” in the classroom. I am the person who decides who I want to answer my questions. I don’t need to always physically check if everyone understands so long as I feel they have a good enough grasp. An alternative could be to “target” students who I’m unsure about and bounce questions between them.
When I made this skill my priority to learn, my teaching became so much better. I commanded the classroom with ease and I felt like I had a better sense of where my students were. I had the confidence to deviate from my lessons plans if I felt like there was a massive gap I didn’t account for and my students enjoyed my lessons more.
I still have much more to learn but the skill of “targeting students” really accelerated my progress to becoming the teacher I want to be. I think that it’s because of this I’ve had a thought crop up in my mind I never thought I would. I can’t count how many times I would be in the middle of a lesson with a smile on my face thinking to myself “Teaching is so fun…”
By Patrick Vieira