What classroom experience did you gain before undertaking your initial teacher training course?

Jess BlackIn the summer of 2020, I was thinking of applying for teacher training courses, I had some experience tutoring, which I had always enjoyed, as well as experience of maths educational outreach. However, I felt that I needed some experience in the school environment. I wanted something more than a week of observing in a classroom, as I really wanted to make sure that teaching was the path for me. I also didn’t want to start teacher training at such an uncertain point in terms of the pandemic – would I begin, only for another months-long lockdown to be announced? 

Therefore, I applied for and secured a job as a “Maths Achievement Mentor” in a secondary school for the academic year 2020-21. This role involved teaching small-group intervention sessions for year 11 students and assisting in maths lessons for years 9, 10, and 11. 

This experience was extremely valuable for me. Assisting in maths lessons allowed me to observe a range of teachers, their methods, and behaviour management strategies, as well as how they adapted their styles depending on what class they were teaching. The small group interventions taught me tactics for explaining concepts in different ways, as well as for motivating students who, let’s be honest, definitely hated missing PE to do extra maths!

After only a couple of months in the role, I was sure I wanted to go into teaching, and began to apply to ITT courses beginning in 2021.

In the last half-term, a lot of my timetable had been emptied by year 11 leaving, and I was assigned some new classes to go to. One of these was a set 1 year 9 class. The class teacher and head of department suggested, knowing that I was about to start a PGCE course, that it would be a great opportunity for me to teach some whole lessons to this class. I took this opportunity eagerly and started off teaching some small parts of the lessons, before handing them back to the teacher. This built up to eventually teaching some whole lessons. This allowed me to try out some of the strategies I had spent the year noticing in other teacher’s lessons, and give me a confidence boost going into my PGCE.

I should also mention it is not just the in-classroom experiences that were valuable. It was also the day-to-day experience of being in school, lunch duty, sports day, and form time, to name a few, gave me the chance to just see what it is like working in a school and  just know a little more of what to expect before my PGCE placements.

By Jess Black