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Emily Annand: Primary trainee

Emily Annand: Primary trainee

Cohort 2018/19

1st March 2019

Halfway through! I can’t believe how fast the time is going. At this point, my teaching hours have increased and it seems like a good time to talk through ‘a day in the life’ as a primary Schools Direct trainee. I know that workload is a concern for many early teachers, but I am lucky as my mentor is supportive of a good work-life balance, which really helps: most days I am home by 6pm. That said, I do still work a relatively long day with very little break time. I think it should be a target of all teachers to continue working to keep our hours reasonable.

This is a typical day without PPA:

7.45am: Arrive at school. Prepare for the morning’s lessons. This includes putting out the Guided Reading work and re-reading my lesson plans for the day so that they are fresh in my mind. There’s normally some last-minute resourcing that needs to be done as well.

8.45am: The children start arriving for a ‘soft start’ (they may arrive anytime between 8.45 and 9.00). I greet all the children at the door, and have a plan for this term to encourage them to greet me too. This will model high standards of politeness and offer a positive start to the day, where I can quickly check in with them.

9am: all children should have arrived. Register and then Guided Reading. My co-class teacher takes out a small group to read together and I facilitate the rest of the class to complete various comprehension activities in small groups.

9.30am: Maths lesson. This half term I will teach at least one core subject per day. Sometimes I will teach two, depending on the availability of my co-class teacher.

10.30am: Take the children to assembly.

10.45am: Children go to first play. I set up the classroom for Literacy.

11am: Literacy lesson.

12pm: Lunchtime. I prepare for the afternoon lesson and mark as much of the morning’s work as possible. Sometimes I will eat my lunch while marking, sometimes I will take the time to eat in the staffroom: it’s around 50:50.

1pm: I collect the children from the playground, and register them as they do handwriting practice. At 1.05pm I take a small group of four out for a phonics group.

1.30pm: Foundation subject lesson.

2.15pm: Children go to second play. My new plan for this half term is to try and join them for this playtime every day. I noticed that they often want to raise small concerns with me during class time and this way there is a chance for them to raise these concerns without disturbing learning time. Hopefully, it will also be an opportunity to strengthen our relationships.

2.30pm: Finish teaching the foundation subject and facilitate the end-of-day routine before sending the children home or to their after school clubs.

3.20-5.15pm: I tidy the classroom, mark work, attend meetings, and plan and resource upcoming lessons. I try to leave by 5.15, and I’m normally successful. On Fridays, I stay a little later as I go to a sports club nearby at 7.30pm, so it makes sense to take this chance to get things done.

6pm: Arrive home. Take a bubble bath and watch East Enders before bed!

 

10th December 2018

I went to school in state schools in south London. At GCSE and A Level, I worked hard to get the marks I needed to go up to university. I enjoyed learning and the day I found out I got in to Oxford, my grandfather, a meter reader who loved to talk politics, cried. He was so happy for me.

I knew I had a lot to learn, but when I went up for induction, I discovered young people who seemed to have already learned everything that was worth knowing. In fact, the expectation seemed to be that you know everything about the topic before you even walked in the door.

I was distraught. School for me had been about learning, now it seemed to be about knowing - and I didn’t know a thing. When I graduated from university I moved to Myanmar for two years to work as a teaching assistant. Again, I was confronted with my own ignorance. Few people spoke English. I wanted to communicate with my hosts, but I couldn’t and that really irked me. Why couldn’t I get my point across with my elementary Burmese?

When I arrived at Harris in September of this year, I was eager and excited to teach lessons on my own. The first term was a whirlwind - I didn’t know what end was up. I couldn’t see them making progress when I was teaching. It all seemed like my fault. How could I not know how to teach?

But of course, I now realise, I don’t know how to teach yet. Learning is a process, not a state. If we all knew everything before we even left the starting gate, what point would there be? Teachers often forget this; we encourage the children to make mistakes, and then we beat ourselves up when we make them too.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my mentor. In addition to the more official lesson observations, she has given me real-time coaching while I am teaching, which has made all the difference. She and the ITE team are consistently positive, constructive and specific in their feedback. Not all training programmes offer this level of support.

Autumn term 2 is a time when teachers often feel bogged down, but there are always bright spots. I have some Christmas cards the children made for me up on my wall and my phonics and guided reading lessons are steadily improving. I recently marked the children’s work from an instruction-writing lesson and was delighted with the results. They had clearly taken on the grammar points highlighted in our shared write and their introductory paragraphs were creative and funny.

Like my students, I often try and fall short, but as I try to communicate to them every day, there is no such thing as failure when you’re learning.