It’s Sunday night and I have officially survived my first week of the Teach First summer institute training, so I thought now would be a good time for another blog post.
The first day of training saw around 70 of us participants come together in our local area, where we had a short time to network before going straight into the sessions.
One of the highlights of the first few days was when we split up into our subject specific sessions. It was very surreal being in a school lab being shown how to do the core practicals and it did feel like I was back at school. But when it was our turn to do the heart dissection, microscopy and an experiment studying osmosis in potato strips ourselves, the realisation did sink in. It is definitely terrifying to think that come September, we will be the adults in charge of the practical. We are going to be the ones having to point out where the valves in the heart are, be responsible for making sure students don’t injure themselves with the scalpel and praying that the class won’t start throwing cores of potato across the classroom as soon as they start the practical.
Although the first few days of training were interesting, the best part so far was day 5, when I had the chance to do my first bit of teaching. As part of the assessment centre for Teach First, they ask you to teach a 7 minute lesson to two adults pretending to be children. Weirdly, I was actually more nervous before this pretend lesson than I was before the year 9 chemistry lesson I taught on Thursday. It did help that I had spent hours preparing the night before like the nerd that I am, making a worksheet about the periodic table and a slideshow about atomic structure and electron shells.
Just before the lesson started, another teacher came in the room and gave me some great advice. She said not to worry about it and that teaching is mainly about acting, so as long as I acted confident I would be fine. Of course, she didn’t know I was actually rubbish at drama at school but I found it really great advice nonetheless.
After being introduced to the class as a “chemistry specialist”, I was given the whiteboard marker and official reins of the classroom. Although I have some vague ‘classroom’ experience from my time as a Girlguiding leader and summer job with NCS (National Citizen Service), I have no actual teaching experience, so my main concern was that I would realise I hated teaching. So, it was such a relief to stand at the front of the classroom and feel so excited to be teaching. I definitely need to work on my whiteboard handwriting and electron shell diagrams, but I enjoyed it so much and it was nice to feel reassured about my career choice.
This coming week I will be teaching small sessions about the universe, osmosis and helping with a practical about making fire extinguishers, so it’s great being able to teach such varied topics. There is already a lot of planning involved, which of course takes time, but overall I’m really enjoying the experience and I can’t wait to start with my very own classes in September.
Finally, I just want to share my favourite quote of the week from a year 9 student in a lesson that I observed with two other participants last lesson on Friday. After the whole class had been disruptive and badly behaved all lesson, he just said “Sir, I bet the one question that’s going through their heads is ‘How the HELL do you put up with us?’”. He may not have enjoyed science, but that’s one thing that he definitely got right that lesson. Here’s hoping the behaviour management will come with time…