I have talked to a couple of people this week who have told me they are not ready for next term and who have been worrying that they have not made enough progress yet!
With this in mind, this week, I thought I would respond to the question, ‘what should I look like at this point of the course?’
There is of course no right answer!
Different people will have progressed in different ways so far this term and there is no one trajectory through the year. You may recall us introducing you to Furlong and Maynard’s (1995) stages of becoming a teacher:
- Early idealism
- Personal survival
- Dealing with difficulties
- Hitting a plateau
- Moving on
I think the key to these stages is once you reach the ‘moving on’ point it’s not over – you go back through the stages as you begin to grapple with the next element of teaching you wish to develop. This means that at this exact point in time:
- there will be some of you who might feel you are just surviving – perhaps you have had a week where you have done lots of teaching and you have been learning how to plan at a quicker pace;
- there may be others among you who are in the midst of dealing with a particular difficulty – for example a tricky class you are trying to develop your behaviour management skills with;
- and then there will be some, where this end point of a placement has come at just the right time and you are feeling ready to ‘move on’ – lucky you!
It is important to remember this as you talk to each other next week and share experiences … Do not compare yourselves!
There is no right answer but, knowing the course well and having seen many students make this journey, I can describe some key things that, if they fit with you at this point then you will be absolutely fine in January:
What does ‘ok’ look like?
- This may not have come easy but you have reached a point where you have a system of organisation that is enabling you to function successfully on a day to day basis.
- You have reached a position where normally (there may be odd exceptions) you are able to show a teacher a lesson plan in enough time to get feedback, and respond to it, before you teach it.
- You have your lesson plans, observations and self-evaluations organised in files so that you will be able to use them for things like: reflection on progress; setting targets; teaching the same topic next term.
If organisation is not your strong point and you read this and think you are still a long way from this point then don’t panic but do take action! Talk to people who are well organised and get tips; discuss strategies with your tutor; try out some systems before January.
Building good relationships with staff and pupils is key to being successful as a teacher.
At this point if you have managed to build good working relationships with staff then this is a really good sign.
- Have you been happy listening to feedback about your practice?
- Have you been able to act on advice?
- Have you got involved with the department – joining in conversations, feeling like part of the department at times?
If the answer is yes, then you are ready to move on.
If there have been some issues in this area, then it is important that you take time to reflect on your behaviours and what might have got in the way of building successful relationships this term. Discuss your thoughts with your tutor and plan to approach things differently next term.
Relationships with pupils have probably been more varied. Perhaps you have got it right with one class but not another? Perhaps there are some pupils who have responded really well to you and other individuals you have struggled to build a relationship with?
This is completely normal!
If you are able to identify some classes (sometimes), pupils and situations where you have managed to develop good relationships then you are ready for your next placement.
Where relationships have been difficult, try to think back to when you first started working with the pupils and identify what you might do differently right at the start of your next placement.
You will now have a good set of experiences of teaching under your belt.
Should all of the lessons you have taught gone well? Of course not.
Is it a problem that some recent lessons you taught didn’t feel good? Of course not.
So how should you be feeling?
- Have you, and your mentor, been able to identify progress in your practice over the last five weeks?
- Have some teaching experiences gone well?
- Has this happened more often as time has gone by?
- Are there some things that you do that are now regularly working?
- Do you know what you need to be working on next?
If the answers to at least some of the above are yes then you are ready to move on.
If you are finding it hard to say yes, then you need to spend some time looking back to when you first started teaching lessons and identifying what you can do now that you couldn’t do then. Sometimes it is hard to realise the progress you have made, particularly if you are in the middle of trying to improve.
Moving on …
When talking to the students who are worrying about whether they are ready for January it struck me they were thinking in a way that assumed they would be going straight to their next placement school without any further development.
You now have six weeks before Teaching Practice starts and this is a key opportunity to make considerable progress in preparation for your next teaching experiences.
Whilst at University we will be offering you a wide range of experiences, all designed to further your thinking and get you ready for your new context. We will be unpicking what you have done this term and building on this to support you in:
- becoming more effective at planning sequences of lessons;
- developing your subject knowledge for teaching;
- exploring key issues in more depth such as assessment for learning, behaviour for learning, supporting SEND pupils, understanding the barriers to success in learning.
Whilst we know you will be returning to us tired, I encourage you to make the most of all of these chances as they will be what will make the difference in developing your readiness for Teaching Practice.
Alongside the planned sessions your tutors are available to help you unpick individual issues and concerns. If you don’t feel like the descriptions of readiness above match you then talk to your tutor and let them help you in this particular area.
In January you have the opportunity to make a fresh start in a school and it will be your learning through this transition period that will enable you to do this most successfully!