As your time in school this term draws to an end, it would be good to use your experiences to date to think about the type of school you may like to work in. Although, whilst so busy, this could be the furthest thing from your mind it is good to take stock whilst you are still in school and create a reference point now that you can return to as you gain more experience and develop further.
Try to take some time in the coming week to think about what you have learnt about schools, their communities and yourself in your placement this term.
One size fits all?
Have you enjoyed being in a large/small school?
What is it about the size of the school that has appealed to you?
How many staff are in your department? Does the department have its own staff room Have you liked/disliked this? Why?
Does your school have, and use, a staff room for all staff? How is this room used? Do staff regularly go there? What is it you have liked/disliked about this? Why?
Have you mixed with staff from other subjects areas? What impact has this had?
For some people the size of a school can have a huge impact on how confident they feel, and how they perceive themselves, as a teacher. It is worth thinking about whether this may be something that will be important to you, and why.
The wider life of your school
Have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities this term? Have you enjoyed this? Why is it important to you?
Do many staff get involved in activities outside their subject?
Why do staff add this additional stress lot their workload?!
Do you see this as something you would like to do next year?
A school’s community
Think about the pupils you have taught and the community your school serves. What have you learnt? What have you liked/disliked?
What are the links like between your school and its community?
What feels important to you, at this point in time, in terms of how a school might work with the community it serves?
So what is your current thinking about what you want?
Based on your experiences before the course and your placement this term if you were to visualise your perfect school to work in right now what would it look and feel like?
What aspects feel like they may be non-negotiable?
What do you now know about the type of teacher you would like to be?
Think about the teachers you have observed, what aspects of their approaches to teaching would you like to emulate?
How does what type of teacher you want to be and the type of school you want to work in relate to each other? What impact might a school have on the type of teacher you wish to be?
Oh no, should I know what I want now?
Let me be absolutely clear – I am not suggesting you should know what you want at this stage. What I am suggesting is you should take stock and reflect on what you think you want based on your experiences so far this year.
You can use this to think about what changes and what stays the same when you move into a new context so that by the time you do apply for jobs you have a clearer idea.
Your NQT year will be one of the most important in your career and it is important to constantly think about whether a school will suit you and the type of teacher you want to be. Thinking about, and revisiting, the questions above will help you gradually develop an informed opinion of what it is you want.
There is no right answer to any of the questions posed above, it is important not to be influenced by others and it is important to realise your opinions might change!
If you are interested in thinking more about what has stood out for you over the last few weeks and how this helps you make sense of your own values and principles then I would recommend reading Mike Bottery’s chapter ‘Values behind the practice’ in his book The morality of the school: the theory and practice of values in education (1990). Bottery argues that:
‘Everyone, in some form or another, has certain basic beliefs about education – about the type of knowledge to be valued, the role of the child, the teacher and society in the process, the type of society to be aimed for and ultimately the preferred relationship between morality and schooling. These normally cohere into particular philosophies of education. It is important, then, to realize and to reflect upon one’s own beliefs’ (p8)
In the chapter Bottery offers an exercise to do where you can explore your own views and what this suggests about your personal philosophy of education. Having an awareness of your own values about education can help you as you prepare for the next stage of the course – it can support you to think about: your approach to behaviour for learning; the relationships you wish to form with staff and pupils; how you wish to plan and construct your lessons… the list goes on.