Reflecting On My First Term
In the future, I suspect the memories of my first term of teaching will acquire a whimsical air. Stepping foot in the staffroom, meeting my colleagues, having tea, and discussing how to impart knowledge to fledgling minds. That first lesson will be recalled with a wry smile and a little laugh at myself: “I can’t believe I thought that would work!” and “Who knew estimation was such a fruitful topic?”. Thus, the need for this reflection piece: to ground future me.
Schools are organised chaos. You are engulfed by rules and systems that make sense to everyone except you and spending time unravelling them whilst working on lesson plans, your teaching persona and university essays is overwhelming. The first few weeks pass in a blur and suddenly, you’re at the end of your first lesson wondering how an hour can simultaneously be the shortest and longest time you have ever experienced. You receive feedback and start mulling over how to incorporate this into your next lesson. You spend hours researching resources and techniques just to forget them all and go off-piste. Your weekends are spent digesting advice and diagnosing what went wrong (it always goes wrong). You wonder why on earth you are putting yourself through this.
The first term of teaching was the biggest learning curve I have ever experienced. The curse and blessing of this profession is that it always requires self-improvement – which is exhausting. There is no such thing as a perfect teacher or a perfect lesson. At times, it feels like you can do nothing right, and this is a road you wish you’d never walked down.
And then you become addicted.
To the rush of adrenaline as you present your lesson plan to your mentor. To the ever-changing, ever-different school day. To your students who bring so much vitality to your classroom. To the advice of your colleagues. To reflecting on your lessons and asking the question “How can this be better?”. You become addicted to the challenge of teaching.
Unexpectedly, taking the register is no longer daunting, you perfect the look that silences a class in an instant, you figure out how to get that demotivated child to contribute and, most importantly, you enjoy yourself. There’s a lot to figure out but you can feel that your place is here. All the reasons that lead you to this point make sense once more and you realise it doesn’t become easier, but you’ve become better. That’s a feeling I always want and teaching is my way of ensuring this.
By Suzanne Ipe
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