How have you found your school placements?
Starting your placement in a school when the last time you were in that setting was as a student is a little daunting. For my first placement, I was an 11-16 secondary school that had around 1400 pupils. I walked into the school a little nervous and not really knowing anyone. It didn’t take long to realise that there was no reason to be nervous; the staff were very welcoming and all who I had contact with made time to make sure I was settling in okay, and they never put any pressure on me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable doing. What also helped was the fact that the school has recently joined an academy trust, which meant that the staff at the school were also undertaking a new transition. Having little classroom experience, I was very much eased into teaching. I started by observing lessons before acting as a teaching assistant. Doing this provided me with the chance to get to know the students and build my confidence with this age group. During this placement, I was teaching a year 7 class and a year 9 class. The first lesson I started teaching was the year 7 class straight after the October half-term and the students had just been re-set in ability groups. This also meant that the students didn’t really know me as a trainee teacher but as their actual teacher. Throughout this placement, I never felt like an outsider and was very much a part of the maths team.
For my second placement, I am in a sixth form college. I am now in my third week of this placement and again, they have been very welcoming and supportive. They have given me the time and space I needed to settle into the college before I started teaching. This placement is very different to my last as I am now teaching KS5 and GCSE resits, a very different age range to my last placement. I completed my mathematics degree shortly before starting my teacher training, and as such, I believed my mathematics knowledge was at a good standard. However, this placement has shown me that there are some gaps in my knowledge as I haven’t seen some of the topics since completing A-level maths myself. It has also opened my eyes to the level of practice teachers need to do to ensure they retain the knowledge they need to teach the subject.
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my placements so far and they have shown me what it really means to be a teacher of 11-18 year-old pupils.
By Alex Wedgwood
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