How Did Your Second Term Compare With Your First Term? 

When comparing my first term with my second term a few things jump to mind namely, the difference in workload and the differences between the schools themselves.


Placement Schools

Firstly, my placement schools are significantly different in a number of ways which has given me a great breadth of experience however did require a period of adjustment coming into term 2. I completed my short placement in term 1 at an all-boys grammar school and my long placement, which began after Christmas, at a mixed-sex academy. 

I had some idea coming into my second placement that the behaviour would be very different as a few trainees from my SCITT were at the school for their short placement and we had discussed behaviour however seeing it in person and the impact it has in a lesson was still a strange adjustment.

In my first placement there wasn’t a particularly ridged behaviour management system which did provide some challenges whereas my second placement has a system of one warning and then the student is sent out of the lesson. Therefore, I’ve found my lessons placement two far less disrupted which has allowed me to focus more on my teaching rather than behaviour management, which is what I'd spent a lot of time doing in my first placement.

One unexpected challenge and surprisingly one of the hardest differences to adjust to has been a consequence of the strict behaviour policy in my second placement which includes the expectation students are silent in lessons and tutor time unless instructed/allowed to speak.

I have found this has created a barrier in getting to know students and building a rapport with them as in my first placement students would come into lessons telling me about their weekend, they’d ask questions and there was usually low-level chat during independent practice. It often feels like I’m teaching a room full of students I know very little about opposed to in my first placement where students felt more like individuals. Finding alternative ways of building those connections with students is one of the biggest things I’d like to work on in term 3.  

Another significant difference has been the organisation/structure of every element of school life. My second placement has an expected lesson structure, a detailed scheme of work, and the option of using pre-prepared lesson PowerPoints provided by the multi-academy trust. Whereas in my first placement school, we had an outline of what topics to cover however had no central bank of resources or expectations of specific lesson structure other than the lesson should have a starter.

As a trainee I appreciate the detail in the scheme of work and resources in my second placement however I can appreciate more experienced staff may prefer the freedom provided by my first placement school. I’ve found both experiences very valuable as placement one taught me about producing and collating resources and placement two has given me a greater understanding of the content and knowledge to cover in each topic and how to sequence lessons.  

Finally, it took me a while to adjust to teaching girls and teaching lower ability classes. My second placement has a unique setup where the school is mixed-sex but lessons are taught in single-sex classes. The class I initially struggled with the most when starting my second placement was a bottom-set girls’ class. It took me a while to adjust my pace and adapt my explanations however, they have probably taught me the most as I’ve really had to break down topics and think carefully about the cognitive load of my lessons and they are now a class I really look forward to teaching. 



Although I was aware of the increase in teaching hours in term two, I wasn’t expecting the adjustment to be quite so hard. My teaching hours increased from 14 hours a fortnight to 26 hours 15 mins a fortnight. Looking back to term 2 the biggest challenge was finding the time to plan for the lessons however, I discussed this with my mentor who recommended planning lessons as a series.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how I’d manage that as I had been preparing each lesson after I taught the previous lesson as I wasn’t sure how much content I’d have covered but I gave it a go and it has helped my planning significantly. I do still edit my plan between each lesson to account for the lesson before, but this is far quicker than the way I was planning before.

In the first half-term of term two, I felt constantly behind however by the second half-term I had found my routine. There are still moments when the workload is overwhelming, especially around PGCE deadlines however these times are more manageable when they are only every so often. Another factor in managing my workload that became more challenging in my second placement is my commute. My first placement school was a 30-40 minute drive each way whereas my second placement is a 50-60 minute drive each way although, with roadworks and diversions at times the journey has taken me up to 2 hours one way. Spending approximately two hours driving every day has significantly impacted my workload by reducing the amount of time I have available to plan and complete assignments each week.

Overall, I have seen a significant increase in my workload in term 2 but there have been a few areas I’ve gained time in comparison to my first placement such as with homework, at my second placement all homework is already scheduled on Sparx Maths whereas in my first placement, I had to find or create resources for homework and get students to mark them in lessons or mark them myself.  


Final Thoughts

My first term and second term have been very different and I’ve learned a lot from both. I’ve found the challenges at each school completely different however I would say overall term two was notably harder with contributing factors being, two PGCE assignment deadlines and a SCITT OFSTED inspection along with the increase in teaching hours. Now in the first week of my final term as a trainee I want to go on more learning walks and try new things in my lessons now I am more settled. I am looking forward to completing my first two parents’ evenings in a few weeks and perhaps getting involved in some extra-curricular activities.

By Jessica Hale





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