What classroom experience did you gain before undertaking your initial teacher training course?
Stepping into a school to teach can be a very daunting experience. Often, graduates decide to get into teaching training programmes without any classroom experience, and then realise the massive task ahead of them. Here is a short blog on my experience prior to my teacher training year:
Prior to starting my PGCE, I gained experience at a local sixth form college as an A-Level Maths and Further Maths mentor. My task was to support Year 13 students who had been negatively affected by local lockdowns and had unfortunately fallen behind with their studies. Through speaking to them individually, I first learnt about the pastoral side of teaching; their anxieties, their feelings about remote learning and their thoughts on how to recover in preparation for the summer exams.
I was then tasked with tutoring weaker students on an individual and group basis. Being alone with the students was, at first, a frightening experience, but the joy of knowing students wanted to improve their maths was greater. Throughout the year, I had taught both in person and remotely, which gave me the opportunity to develop my teaching methods.
Spotting when students are struggling (e.g. through facial expressions, elongated silences, etc.) helped me with learning about their misconceptions, and how to address those. Partaking in CPD events too, I came to know of a variety of techniques to help simplify my explanations. One of those is the use of colour when explaining maths, to aid making links between different ideas. Through implementing a safe zone, I developed a behaviour management technique; if students respect your efforts and caring nature, they will try for you and so, whenever I teach students, I try to ensure it is a positive learning environment.
Furthermore, I created videos to support A-Level students, which provided me with the opportunity to hear myself teach and where possible, to think about techniques to improve my explanation. The students found these beneficial as an extra resource to refer to; often, students were shy to ask questions out of embarrassment and fear. The videos I have produced can be found on my Youtube Channel.
To convince yourselves that teaching is the correct career for you, I would recommend gaining classroom experience. Contact local schools and colleges. You will learn so much about the ways in which different teachers teach, to how children behave and respond in an educational setting, to their struggles. Besides, by familiarising yourself with being around children, your confidence will grow before even starting your teacher training course! Teaching is an amazing profession, and I would not have decided to get into teaching without such prior classroom experience.
By Tayyub Majeed
Find Tayyub on Twitter as @tm_maths