Read How A Brief Conversation Made All The Difference

I was approximately two months into my training course and had settled into regular solo teaching with a few different classes. However, I was struggling to get to grips with a lot of the students' attitudes.

During my time at school, I'd been somewhat of a model student, particularly when it came to Maths, and was finding it difficult to empathise with students who weren't applying themselves within lessons and seemingly didn't want to learn. I tried a few different approaches during my classes but the problems persisted. I was feeling rather negative about my abilities as a teacher and my ability to complete the course. 

The time arrived for me to be observed by my university tutor. Of course, being a trainee, I was constantly being observed so this was nothing new, but as it was the first time he would be seeing me teach, I still wanted to make a good impression. It was arranged that he would observe my year 9 class; a class containing a selection of students from the form I was supporting. During form time one morning, I mentioned in passing to one student that my university tutor would be observing the next lesson I would teach her class. She immediately turned around and got the attention of a classmate who was in the same Maths class. She explained that "Mr Davies' university tutor is coming to watch him on Thursday, so we need to . . . ". I expected that sentence to end with her plan for disruption or trouble causing, as neither herself nor the young man she was speaking to was exactly angels. However, she completed the sentence with". . . tell everyone to be good so he gets a good review". 

The fact that this student wanted to help me and would risk the indignation of her classmates in order to do so really meant something to me. It helped me see that students' attitudes and behaviour during lessons didn't necessarily directly reflect their opinion of a teacher. From this point on, I developed behaviour management strategies based on the personal relationships I had started to develop with my classes and found this to be relatively successful. The observation lesson went well and my feelings became more and more positive throughout the rest of the term.

I'm now 11 weeks away from completing my course and have secured a job for September. Things could have panned out very differently if it hadn't been for that brief conversation back in October.

James Davies