Blog is written by Stephanie Ashton (SCITT Cohort 2020/21)

Whilst it can feel that January has around 300 days, I must confess that for me it has gone by pretty quickly. It has been a whirlwind tour of online teaching, finding new resources and discovering new ways to communicate effectively online. With all the new things to learn and try out, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed with all the tips, ideas, platforms and websites all suggesting new ways of doing things.

Luckily, our session this week with Amjad Ali of ‘Try This Teaching’, reminded me that it’s ok to “try, refine, ditch”. So, if you see something you like try it. If you’re doing something that could be even better, refine it and if it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to ditch it. Do what works for you and your students!

We have all now had 4 weeks on our placement school’s rota. This means that 1 day a week we get to come into our placement school and help supervise the key worker and vulnerable children who are in school. I’ll be honest, this did initially make me feel anxious. I was worried about whether I would be “COVID-secure” and how I would be able to help students who I hadn’t necessarily taught before with subject I knew little about.

But, I realised quickly that there was nothing to be afraid of. SLT are working tirelessly to ensure that we are all safe and as for my worries about the students, I have learned that actually just being there with them, listening to their worries and hopes and offering a friendly face goes such a long way. Also, there is no shame in admitting when you aren’t sure how to work out the surface area of cylinder but by offering to figure it out together you are showing students that teachers also make mistakes and are still learning even as adults. Incidentally, we did figure it out eventually with a little team work!

It has also been the first time that we have been given a small class to supervise, un-supervised. So this has become our first real taste of what it will be like in September when we will have hopefully been bestowed QTS and given our own classes. Until you are on your own with a class it is hard to imagine not having your mentor sat at the back cheering you on and being there just in case something goes wrong.

I have certainly noticed whilst being on the rota that I relied on my mentor being with me more than I realised. Even if it is just scanning their face for confirmation that your answer to a student’s question is correct or that the decision you made regarding the behaviour policy is acceptable. But during this experience, it forces you to take charge and own the classroom and it removes those stabilisers which I know will only make us even stronger NQTs from September.

Being a trainee during a global pandemic has taught me to embrace any opportunity that arises. It might not be the opportunity you thought would come your way and your best laid plans may go astray, but that’s often were most of the good stuff happens!