What challenges have you faced so far?

Aaron KeysAs I approach the end of my first teaching placement I am definitely in a reflective mood, training to be a teacher does that to you! I have had an excellent experience for my first six weeks, landing myself in a school and department that couldn’t have been any more supportive. From a personal point of view though it hasn’t been without its challenges.
As a parent of two young boys, it is quite a feat to try and match their energy after a long and draining day. Weekends are fun but the edge definitely comes off on Sunday morning thinking about Monday’s planning. Workload is the obvious challenge for new teachers but I think my biggest challenge has been one of resilience, where I find myself in a position where I have never had so much personal feedback. 

From a QTS point of view it has been invaluable, I teach the headmaster’s year 7 class and every lesson I receive a lengthy email of feedback which helps no end with refining my practice. There is no two ways about it, however, receiving feedback is draining mentally. I already have my own high expectations to contend with along with processing and acting on feedback from all angles, it definitely does test one’s resilience. In my previous career in retail management, I was no stranger to feedback and review but the timescales were more like weekly or monthly as opposed to daily or hourly!

This is clearly good training for my ECT years as I’m getting to understand this doesn’t go away very quickly. I haven’t even begun to speak about the pressure and challenges of experienced teachers to deliver progress targets, teach content, and ultimately make children better more rounded adults, the feedback cycle will never really ease.

As much as it is a challenge, I’m really enjoying it. I moved into this career as I hoped I would find my vocation, and learning to embrace the small wins is definitely my biggest learning point from my six weeks. That and looking after myself physically and nutritionally! I am a keen runner and for various reasons this has fallen by the wayside, this is something that I need to change as I move into my second placement. It’s a wonderful tool to clear your head at the end of a day.

My mentor and my school have been incredible with helping me see the big picture and the positives from challenging lessons but I think the most pertinent and timely piece of advice I’ve had from several of my colleagues was simply, you need to be kind to yourself!

By Aaron Keys


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