Somehow, it is already the fifth and final week of summer institute. By the end of this week, the 2017 cohort, over one thousand of us, will have officially passed the final stage of the recruitment process and will therefore be ready (I use that word lightly) to start teaching in our schools in September.
Over the past five weeks, I have stayed in five different cities. Despite being frustrating to live out of a suitcase for so long and despite realising early on that I did not actually like 90% of the clothes I had packed, it has actually been nice to travel around the UK to visit new places. Of course, with a new city comes a new Snapchat filter which has also added some extra excitement to summer institute.
Unfortunately, it turns out that teaching is actually much harder than I thought it was when I was in school myself. There is a lot more to it than just turning up and teaching a lesson, who knew eh? This means that unfortunately, during this teacher training there was no session called ‘How to teach’ that I could attend and magically leave, happy in the knowledge that I will know what I am doing come September. Instead, there has been an information overload with sessions on everything: special educational needs (SEN), misconceptions, behaviour, building effective relationships, planning, safeguarding (including teachers’ duties in safeguarding against radicalisation and extremism), assessment, biology, chemistry and physics practicals and the list goes on.
This final week is an inter-cohort week, as the 2016 and 2017 cohort have all been together in Leeds. The week started with a two day teacher development conference which was really great as we were able to choose to attend talks which really interested us and those which will be the most helpful. One of the best talks I attended during this conference was by Jaz Ampaw-Farr, who if you google you may recognise from The Apprentice a few years ago. It’s hard to describe exactly what this talk was about and what made it stand out so much, but essentially it was an hour of Jaz standing up and speaking with such passion about her past and about how she is only where she is today because of five teachers who she believes saved her from a life of crime, drugs and prostitution. It may sound an intense topic for a teacher development conference, but I certainly left with a newfound sense of purpose and motivation and a desire to be the best teacher I can be for my pupils. I highly recommend you visit Jaz’s website if you would like to find out more about her and see her speak:
At the end of this two day conference, we were also treated to a performance by the National Orchestra for All (NOFA- http://www.orchestrasforall.org), a music group set up by a Teach First ambassador and comprising of 100 young people, many of which are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Although admittedly my knowledge of music and orchestras is not great, their music was really impressive and even more impressive was the confidence of the young people who stood up and spoke about themselves in front of 3000 people in the First Direct Arena. That’s something that I’m not sure I would be able to do.
There really have been so many highlights from the past month and I am aware that this blog is getting very long and rambly so I will just finally say that although I have seen some amazing speakers and performances and attended lots of sessions over the last few weeks, one of the best highlights is still the buzz that I got when I stood up in front of a class and delivered my first bit of teaching, back in week 1.
As cliché and cringe-worthy as this sounds, I honestly feel so lucky that the job I will be starting in September is one which allows me to have such a direct impact on young people’s lives and is a job that I know that I will enjoy.
However, as much as I am looking forward to starting, I am also very much counting down the days left this week until I have four weeks off for summer. Because yes I may get a buzz from teaching, but of course everyone knows that the real reason teachers choose to teach is because they crave those long summer holidays.