One of the things that I was most worried about going into teaching straight from university is whether I look too young to teach. I feel like I really haven’t changed much since I left school myself, so how do I expect students to take me seriously let alone listen to what I have to say? So, much to my surprise, in the past two weeks that I’ve spent in school, I’ve had a couple of students ask me which school I taught at before and one student today even asked me “Are you like, one of those teachers that comes to other schools to assess other teachers?” So, despite the hours of sessions before and after school, probably one of the most valuable things I’ve learnt so far is to not underestimate the power of a blazer and a lanyard.
Although looking like a teacher doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem for me as I expected, one thing that has surprised me is how scary observations are. Over the course of the two-year programme, I will of course be observed many times, but the thought of this didn’t really phase me. If I can stand up and teach in front of 30 teenagers, surely another person stood at the back of the room won’t bother me?
Sadly, it bothers me much more than I thought it would. My first observation on Thursday was probably my worst bit of teaching I’ve done so far. I felt like I used to feel when I had to do presentations in school, nervous, and a little too shaky for someone who was trying to calmly pour sulphuric acid and sodium hydrogencarbonate into a conical flask while demonstrating a practical to a group of Year 7s I’d never met before. Although the only thought that was running through my head during that lesson was “I know that practise makes perfect, but is it possible to also become worse with practise?”, the feedback was not actually as bad as I expected (I think the quote was: “There were some good elements to the lesson”) and I hope this means that I can only get better from here.
Other highlights in week 2 included Monday night’s ‘Teach Meet’, where Teach First participants from years 1 and 2 delivered short presentations with useful advice they wanted to pass on. Although not all of this was relevant to us, just the fact that they still had enough energy and enthusiasm to deliver these presentations reassured me that the programme can’t be that soul destroying. Apart from the ‘disaster’ observed lesson on Thursday, the teaching generally went well last week. Funnily enough, I was in a Year 9 lesson where they were doing the osmosis practical with potatoes that I did myself during training last week and predictably, one boy did start throwing cores of potato at another girl. Thankfully they were only throwing them though, I heard from a teacher today that one particular year 9 class, very randomly, had a habit of eating everything, including some clearly mouldy bread that they were using for a practical. Kids really do the strangest things.
After finishing off my school centred learning on Thursday and a quick trip back to my university to graduate on Friday, I have now moved to my actual placement area and today was the first of three days this week in my placement school. Excitingly, today I finally received my timetable for September. I will be teaching seven different classes, from years 7-10, which I am equally excited and terrified about. I would say “What’s the worst that can happen?” but I know that with science, there’s actually quite a lot of potential for bad things to happen, so stay tuned for that…