It’s funny. This whole experience so far has been both the most enjoyable thing I have done but also the most trying, tiring and difficult. When I spoke to friends before I started this teacher training course, I got a bit of a mixed bag of responses from those who were already in the profession. On the one side of things people were extremely excited and offered a lot of positive help and encouragement, however there were the same number of friends who said the opposite- that they didn’t want to be a teacher anymore, that if they could they would change their job and that I would be foolish to enter such an industry. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who got this type of response, just reading posts online it’s often clear that the perception of teaching is a little negative due to the demands of the job.
I’m glad that I took both sets of people’s advice on board, but instead of making a decision then and there I decided to try it for myself and see how I felt about it. It’s a scary thing, leaving a job and entering an entirely new profession and doing something that you have literally no experience for. I won’t lie either, I still get those jitters before certain lessons- whether it be before teaching a completely new class, or teaching an older year group. You never know how those lessons could go, how are those pupils feeling and how are they going to behave and react in the lesson. It does get easier, and building relationships with pupils and classes happens very quickly.
I remember my first lesson, I remember that it was on a Thursday. I remember it was really cold, but that I felt really hot. I remember that another Geography ITT, who was also at the same placement as me, had his first lesson two days before me. I was both incredibly jealous and incredibly relieved. On the one side of things, he could get his first full lesson out of the way, on the other side I had two full extra days to prepare. We’re close friends, and spoke about this event recently. Funnily enough he felt the exact same way as I did. We needn’t had worried though, the lessons were okay. We both made it out alive and we both went on to begin teaching our full timetables (for phase 1) the very next week.
It’s interesting thinking back to those days. It’s only been 3 months, but it feels like a lifetime ago. I’m nowhere near the level of teacher I want to be, or even could be, but I have improved so much in this small window I’ve been with the National Forest Teaching School. My lessons have improved, my teaching, my presence, my demeanour… Even my shirts and ties! Most importantly though, my confidence has improved. It’s very easy to come out of a bad lesson and feel demotivated, to feel like you’re not cut out for this, that you don’t want to do it anymore. I’ve felt like that. I’ve felt like that a few times. I know a lot of other people on this SCITT course have felt like that. I’ve been there for others and they’ve been there for me.
And that’s the whole point!
If there’s one thing that gets drilled into you really early on, is that you have to be resilient. You have to keep going, and you have to always remember that you’re never alone. There are 40+ other people going through the same process, experiencing the same highs, the same lows for the first time. Most are career changers and very few are straight out of University or have any real experience of being a teacher already. There’s also always the central SCITT team who I feel are always there if you need anything. I think though, the most important piece of the puzzle, is that you ensure that you have a good working relationship with your mentor. I have been incredibly lucky on both my first and second placement to have had excellent mentors who are understanding and motivating but who also challenge you to do more, to understand how your lessons and teaching could always improve.
So, to you, who maybe reading this and thinking… “Hey, I might want to try that teaching malarkey”, I say: Do it. Give it a go. The rewards of teaching are great, but I think the reward really lies in the realisation of what teaching can do for you, on a personal level. It can inspire you and raise your confidence. No day is ever the same, and I do mean that. No lesson will ever go exactly the same, and no two pupils are ever the same. That’s the best bit isn’t it? Building relationships with pupils who need a guide, who need a mentor, who need a role model and inspiring and motivating them to be the best person they can be.
Here’s to the next six months.