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Dean Robinson: Languages Mandarin Trainee - Harris Academy South Norwood

Cohort 2021-22

October 2021

Dean robinson“What did your first week entail?” 

Logging into the computer, tapping at the keyboard, the back of the classroom looked far away. The ceiling seemed to stretch away from me while I brought up my PowerPoint.  

“Morning Dean, all good?” said a Mr Thomas, popping his head in with a gentle smile on his face. I nodded and scanned my lesson again, making sure that my planning was still there from the night before.  

When I started planning, through the best of intentions, I created slide after slide of dynamite content (or so I thought), full of pedagogical power and imaginative insights, and all from scratch. It was totally original, with promises of a ‘Do Now’, modelling, whole class teaching, AfL strategies, hinge questioning, paired work, dialogic teaching, showcasing, use of visualisers, flashy animations that swirl in and out. Trust me, the list went on. I felt good about myself… for a while. Then I took a break, had something to eat, a shower and just before it was supposed to be bed-time (early to bed, early to rise), I thought I’d take a peek at the perfect lesson again, and that’s when it hit me. The objectives! What were the objectives?  

 

They walk up the MFL staircase in droves. They are Year 7s and they swarm up the corridor, and just then I wonder if I have what it takes to do this. “Line up over here, please,” a voice bellows from the depths of my stomach (I didn’t know that was there). I had set out the books before they arrived, with glue sticks and ‘Do Nows’ on the table. I had finally come up with a seating plan that shows them where to sit.                                                                   

“One, two, three, four. You can go inside and find your seat. A plan is on the board to show you where you’re sitting.” I was sure that could be worded better but hey, look, they’re finding their seats. It worked. “Ok, next four please. One, two, three…” 

I was standing at the front of the classroom, my hands firmly placed on the teacher table’s surface. My voice carrying all the way back there at the rear of the room and it was then that I thought, “gosh, why is my shirt so wet and sticky?” My hand moves to the side of my temple and I wipe the wetness on the flank of my trousers. “Dear God! Are they seeing this?”   

They had heads down and pens in hand. When I asked questions, a wave of hands greeted me and that’s when the penny dropped. I got away with it. That’s when I knew I had to be the best teacher that I could be. “Fake it till you make it” they say. Now I get it! 

Top Tips 

  1. Objectives are your best friends so keep them close.  

  1. Get the start of your lesson right. Be clear about the routines of the start of your lesson. 

  1. Keep your "Do Now" nice and simple. It should be accessible for all and shouldn’t take up much time.  

  1. And remember… You may be nervous but the students will be nervous too.