Meet our Harris Academy South Norwood


Zoe Francis - Business Studies Trainee

Harris Academy South Norwood

January 2023Img 20221024 wa0004"How has your first term with Harris Initial Teacher Education been?"

You can take the horse to water, but you can’t make it drink! Ever heard that proverb? Well, in the real world it is absolutely true however when applied to teaching it is not true… well, kind of. 

You can make children go to school as a legal requirement, but you can’t make them learn! Left to their own devices this would be a truism, for some students, but what I have seen of the teachers that are currently training me is that they are determined, with every fibre of their being, not to allow any student to opt out of learning (Water drinking is optional). 

My first experience of not making learning an option was when I walked, nay skipped, to my first class. I expected to be faced with a group of Y13 students eager to learn. With the understanding that the effort that they put in now will be amplified many times over in the future, in terms of career prospects and financial stability, and as their teacher I would be the conduit for their learning. That these eager young minds would appreciate the time and energy that I had poured into this power point where I would disseminate the subject matter. Obviously, they wouldn’t be aware of the lesson planning and constant discussions about lesson planning and scaffolding and resources and behaviour management techniques and cognitive overload… but they would appreciate it. Of course, they would! 

But that isn’t quite how my first lesson went, I had a Year 13 business class where half the students decided to either turn up late or not turn up at all. One young girl said “I don’t even like Business studies” as I walked around the room to assess their work. I carried on even though in that instance, I questioned every decision that I had made that had brought me to teaching. 

That is when I had my education!  I had to hold my ground. I taught to the class as if all the students had turned up. I adapted the lesson to take into account that not all the students were there. I added in more questioning to create more debate around the topic. That first lesson, had me knocked for six, and it may not have been a fairy tale moment but later that day my mentor found me and gave me feedback, one of your students said that they really enjoyed the lesson. “He feels that he had learned something from you” I then walked, nay skipped, to my next lesson. 

My first term has taught me that though students are at school they may not have the mindset to learn. It is not “inbuilt”. I am there to ignite the spark, the desire to learn. Like the superb teachers that I am currently observing I will have to build an arsenal of techniques to achieve this, by using behaviour management techniques, scaffolding and develop my understanding of pedagogy. These techniques will not work for every student every time but that is the nature of the job, to keep teaching until the students drink from the fountain of learning. There is no opting out.  

October 2022

"Why did you start your teacher training journey?"

Like everyone else on the planet the pandemic has changed everything. Within days of being made redundant from a company that I had been with for decades; the world had shut down and my world had been turned inside out and upside down.  

The pandemic and my redundancy led me to re-evaluate my entire life on a macro and micro level.  I asked myself many questions; Who am I? What have I achieved? What do I want to do when I grow up?  I questioned what my legacy would be when I “shuffled off this mortal coil”  

I could only answer one question… What do I want to do when I grow up? The answer? Teach.  

Let me be completely transparent, throughout my career I always found a way to train others or mentor others or provide career development advice for others. I was consistently finding ways to fulfil a desire to teach others but then that need to “teach” became an out and out desire to become a teacher. I made a small step in towards my true calling, and I became a volunteer teaching public speaking in the evenings.  

Over time, the desire to teach became an incessant drum beat and being made redundant gave me the opportunity to turn the beating drum into a full Drum and Base medley.  

Every journey starts with a small step. My teacher training journey was no different, my first step was logging into the Get into teaching website and registering with a specialist advisor, who then helped me to put my application together and submit to my choice of 3 providers.  

My first choice was Harris Initial Teacher Educcation. How did Harris become my first choice? Well, I attended an open day, as recommended by my advisor and I met Jacqui who is the Seondary Phase Lead at Harris ITE. She was encouraging and knowledgeable and didn’t seem to question whether I would be good enough to do a “good job” within minutes of me talking to her, she convinced me that I would be a great teacher….. and the rest is history!