Meet our Harris Girl's Academy East Dulwich


Dervla Keenaghan - History Trainee

Harris Girl's Academy East Dulwich

January 2023"What was your first term at Harrris Initial Teacher Education like?

Img 20221024 wa0000Looking back at my first term at Harris ITE, it has been the most exciting rollercoaster journey I have been on. I am SO excited to see what the rest of my year brings, especially next term with our second school placement. 

Finishing on that last day of term, I realised how far I had come from that first week and before that Summer School. Those moments felt like distant memories, yet at the same time it felt like no time had passed at all. As we approached the last week of term, lots of colleagues had begun to say, ‘Well done you’ve nearly finished your first term of teaching’ and I couldn’t quite believe it. How had I successfully completed 13 weeks of teaching?

It was a bittersweet moment as I looked back and realised how much I had learnt in that time. There were highs such as the wins we encounter daily, like learning and remembering all your student names and some lows such as a lesson not going quite the way you want it to go. But you realise, regardless of the hard times, one thing that remains consistent is the idea that teaching is a privilege, and I am just so lucky to have this opportunity.  

Every day is different, you don’t know the impact you could have on your students that day and no matter what you will always be able to smile. Being in the classroom is a unique and rewarding experience, I have learnt so much from my first term as Miss Keenaghan. I know I will always treasure the new experiences that came with my first term as a teacher. 

The weeks just fly and with the training day sandwiched in on a Thursday, it gives you the opportunity to catch up with your trainee friends and reflect on what went well and there is always room for an even better if. The training days are extremely helpful in developing your practice. The content delivered is accessible and easily relates to your own classroom. My favourite part has been the Subject Days. The passion for History radiates in the room and you walk away feeling so inspired. 

The first term is full of new experiences, you realise the Do’s and Don’ts of the classroom. Observations soon become a part of your routine and your nerves stay the same but always worth it when you hear your feedback. I thoroughly enjoyed my first term and am so looking forward to a well-deserved rest over the holidays.  

I am just so proud to say I did it! A massive thank you to my mentor, whose support and guidance has always helped and developed my practice. As well as my colleagues, my trainees and the ITE Team. The ITE team, both tutors and office staff are always available and happy to help you to settle in quickly into your new role. Of course, not forgetting my incredible family and friends who have constantly reminded me that I am where I always wanted to be -a teacher! I am so grateful to all who have helped me successfully complete my first term as a teacher.   

October 2022"What did your first week entail?"

I've now completed my first half term of training and, looking back, the first week was a rollercoaster. It was a time of new experiences, new opportunities and new adventures yet there were natural highs and lows too. I celebrated my first week as if I had completed my whole training year as I couldn’t believe I had got through it all.  

The night before my first day, I couldn’t sleep. I had such a range of emotions flowing through my body, excitement as well as the standard first day nerves. I arrived at my Academy and felt like I was a student back in Sixth Form again. It was only until I had to introduce myself that the reality hit. This was my future and I was a trainee teacher. The first day was an Inset day which helped me to settle right into the routines and procedures that occurred at our Academy. I met my Mentor and Head of Department who have been so supportive throughout my first few weeks.  

We had a meeting in the hall, where all the staff was mixed across different tables, and it was a chance to meet new faces. Our Principal asked all the new staff to stand up to introduce themselves and I had to smile and wave to all my new colleagues. The reality of my situation was quickly setting in and I was so excited to see what the year ahead would bring.  

There was something so exciting about all the newness, having just finished university, there was so much I needed to learn and understand. I started to create my seating plans and discuss my lessons with my Mentor so that I was ready to teach. Nothing prepares you for that first lesson, it is safe to say that you really start at the bottom but thank goodness the only way is up! I loved meeting my students and getting to know them in that first week, so many new names and new faces. They were all so shy as I was a new teacher, but it wasn’t long before they started to say hi when they saw me around our school. Now, six weeks in I feel like a celebrity as I am constantly getting a ‘Hi Miss’ if I step outside my office, which has been so helpful in developing relationships with my students and learning names.  

I spent the first week learning my timetable, trying not to get lost around the Academy and learning all the new faces and new names. I learnt so much from my Mentor and Head of Department, watching their wonderful practices for teaching, they always celebrated my small wins with me and reminded me how well I was doing. I was fortunate to start observing lessons from other excellent practitioners as well outside my subject, which helped me determine my non-negotiables for the classroom.