Written by Laura (SCITT Trainee)
This week has not been easy. I believe that important lessons are learnt from mistakes and when things go wrong. This week they went very wrong.
Through my working life I have been told the 5 P's - Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance. However, in the life of a school it seems that preparation, however proper, is not as important as confident crisis management!
Plans are made to ensure the best possible chance to learn and for the pupils to succeed, but it can be detrimental to hold onto a plan tightly when you are teaching...
My classes seem to have reset to default over the course of a weekend. The lessons I taught have varied in effectiveness, and the pupils have not retained as much as I had hoped. IT issues caused unexpected delays, and rough transitions, which I thought I had resolved, started to unravel again.
The last day of this hard week came with a formal observation lesson. I had planned to stick with the routines that I had established with the class, and began by reviewing the homework. What should have been a three/four-minute correction and questions, started a downward spiral, as the pupils had had various issues with completing the task, in the online format. Then moving into the body of the lesson - the recap of the previous lessons learning on sample spaces, was met with blank faces. This job requires quick thinking and I had to adapt my lesson plan on the spot to re-teach and practice this work on sample spaces rather than move on. In the midst of this (I hope internal) panicking, I lost track of time and flustered, I finished and packed up the pupils 15 minutes before the end of the lesson. Upon realizing this, I then had to get the pupils back on a task (luckily, I had one spare from the previous lesson) to complete the hour, which was done in a focused and calm way, almost the opposite to how they had been during the observed section.
Gathering my things, I then went on to teach another three lessons, on three very different topics. Reflecting on the lessons had to wait until the end of the day and it brought with it a large amount of self-doubt. It is easy to feel like a failure and give up, but we are constantly encouraged to reflect, perfect and keep moving forward.
My reflections of these lessons, and the advice from my mentor and colleagues, has made me realise that my self-talk is damaging. I need to focus on my explicit instructions and maintain high expectations of the class, no matter what is going on in my head. I have learnt that a mistake (however large) does not indicate failure; I can be resilient; and I already have some of the skills needed to resolve problems and finally that pupils are like goldfish!
The end of the week brought our usual Friday enhancement sessions and this week's theme was Challenge. Ludi asked us to pick our favourite meme and mine was by far "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor". We talked about the benefit of challenge and how it is a strong ally for learning. The greater the challenge, the larger the sense of achievement after success, and even in failure, the strength of the learning, and recognising how to improve next time is priceless. The session finished and I was unexpectedly awarded star of the week for resilience and overcoming adversity. Thinking about it now, this challenge every day is why I chose to pursue this career. This course has its ups and downs, its ebbs and flows and its tidal waves, but all of it is to prepare us with as many skills, and strategies as possible before September, when we begin our careers is this crazy, sometimes chaotic, but ultimately incredibly rewarding profession.