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Haseeb Malik: Primary trainee

Haseeb Malik: Primary trainee

Cohort 2018/19

1st March 2019

 I am a superhero, a real-life superhero!

Now, I wouldn’t normally say that starting a blogpost with such a lofty, audacious and rather bizarre claim is a move that will endear you to your audience but…just think about this for a second… 

Every morning I wake up early, okay? I look in the mirror, I remember what I look like, I certainly don’t look like a conventional superhero.  I accept that I cannot change my appearance and I go off to work: I’m safe in the knowledge that my day is going to have an impact, it’s going to mean something. My day is not complete unless I feel as though I have made at least an ounce or a shred of difference to someone – preferably a pupil – however minute, however crucial. 

On any given day, I leave home in order to save a pupil or, better yet, the entire class. Now, let me just deflate my own ego just a tad and acknowledge that I’m not actually saving them from a burning fire or from the wreckage of a motor accident on a suspect bridge, but I am giving them my time, my attention, my effort, my energy and much more. If I had a cape, I’d be wanting to take it off and place it on their backs so that they too can have the confidence and the knowledge with which to soar through their studies. 

I am not trying to be facetious. I am not trying to overinflate my own importance, but I know, even at this point during a School Direct traineeship, that I cannot ‘phone-it-in’; I cannot be passive because there is too much at stake. Now that is not to say that I always ‘nail-it’, not only am I human but I am also yet to pass the QTS year – we’re only halfway through – I’ve still got plenty time to clip all the remaining hurdles I have to cross. Nevertheless, I will cross them, and I will take those pupils with me. 

We all remember teachers from our schooldays; we recall those who went that extra mile with us and (regrettably) we never seem to be able to forget those who we feel made our lives that little bit harder. If I do live long in a child’s memory, I want it to be for the right reasons. 

As previously mentioned, I have been in Year 6 for my main placement and it’s a year group that presents its own unique challenges but, essentially, all roads point to the SATs. You cannot help but give over your heart to these pupils, these children, these young people, these 10- and 11-year olds (that’s what they are) because they’re going through a lot. The pressure is on, they hear the term “SATs” every few minutes if not more and if I could, I would sit beside each and every one of them as they sat each and every one of their exams in May.

However, I cannot, my powers do not stretch that far…maybe I’m not so super.  

This journey continues to be absolutely fascinating. Planning lessons that not only support those learners who need that additional aid, but also crafting your session in a way that stretches those of higher ability feels almost like it is an art; it feels as though it is a craft, that’s what teaching is, that’s what Tom Bennett would say and crafts have to be honed and developed.  

I recently had, what I would have to say was my favourite lesson so far, my most enjoyable teaching experience so far on the course – without a doubt. It was a Topic lesson, it was Geography and the subject was ‘erosion’. Perhaps not an area of study that immediately gets their tails wagging, am I right? However, I wanted to make it fun, exciting and innovative; I thought long and hard, I consulted with colleagues and trawled the internet for inspiration before constructing my lesson plan. 

In short, up until this point, there has never been so much laughter and tangible enjoyment during the input stage of one of my classes and – having marked their work – also an impressive degree of learning too. Of course, during the lesson (which was an observation), I still did a fair amount of sweating and I had to think in the moment and make decisions based on time and perceived progress, but everything is slowly going in the right direction. If I’m Rocky Balboa (which I have repeatedly been told I am not) but, if I was, I’m heading up those steps; I am going in one direction and once at the summit I’m going to throw my fists up in their air. However, until then, I need to support as many pupils as possible to boost their morale and confidence ahead of the SATs in May. Time to go and make that cape!

 

6th December 2018

What am I doing? Am I up to this? Will the pupils respect me? Does this shirt and tie combination work?

These are just a few of the questions that I have been asking myself during this first long and arduous term of the Harris Initial Teacher Education (ITE) School Direct program. There are times when you can feel rather overwhelmed and there are also those occasions, when in full flow, when you feel like the classroom is on fire – in a good way. All the clichés and analogies apply; it is a rollercoaster of emotions and it can seem like you’re being thrown in the deep end but being in school from day one is invaluable.

The ITE team work very hard to structure the training in a way which enables you to flourish at your school. Are there instances when it can all feel a bit much? Of course, we’re only human. However, it is down to you as an individual to apply as much of the core training as possible and make sure that you are soaking up everything you can by observing various members of staff across different age phases.

As the teaching commitment increases, hopefully your confidence will too – at least that’s what I have found. I have been able to have open and honest discourse with my mentor, which has made feedback sessions incredibly helpful. However, above all else, what I am truly proud of is the relationships that I have built with the young people in my class. This has been vital in my progression as a trainee. Only by getting to know them have I been able to tailor my lessons accordingly and enable them to learn something new.

When you witness, when you can tell, when you feel that you’re getting through to a child and they’re growing in confidence – be it with their studies or social environment – it’s a phenomenal feeling.

It’s those tiny, sometimes seemingly insignificant, moments that I absolutely love. Their trust is a gift to me, their attention – although required – is another gift and I’ve come to realise just how powerful the position of teacher is. It is not a responsibility that anyone can take lightly and, even though I am still at the beginning of my career, I am determined to make the biggest and most substantial positive impact on young minds as possible.

I genuinely feel as though every chapter of my life, both professional and personal, enables me to do my job effectively. Whether it’s my background in theatre and acting on London’s stages; the fact that I was also a print journalist who interviewed celebrities on occasion; later, I worked on large-scale events with disadvantaged young people or the fact that I’m a father, all of this goes into the classroom with me. Not my personal business, but my catalogue of life experiences. My point is that whatever you have done in your life, there is a real chance that it will be useful in the classroom – at some point – and so I personally want to appeal to the career-changers out there and tell them to go for teaching if they’re considering it. I had been happy in certain previous jobs and roles but in terms of consistently tangible intrinsic satisfaction – this is it!

When I turned my attention towards training as a teacher, I stumbled across Harris by accident in all honesty. I was in the throes of applying elsewhere through UCAS, waiting to hear whether I’d be invited to an interview when Harris ITE got back to my unsolicited email and offered me just that. Within a week, I was sat in front of Amanda Aylett, James Wright and Rachel Cranwell…and the rest is history. I must say that from the get-go Harris ITE have been fantastic. Everything has been very professional, very official but the team are also very attentive and nurturing; I get the sense they truly want their cohort to develop across the training year in order to launch successful careers. In particular, I have to say, summer school was crucial (in my opinion) in establishing exactly what lay ahead for us all.

I don’t even know where to begin when attempting to recount the events of my first full term at Harris Primary Academy Benson. As cliché as it sounds, it has been a real journey, but I’ve had the best time. Leadership is so important in schools and I feel as though I have amazing colleagues guiding me through this School Direct program. I’ve taken it upon myself to observe different members of staff and absorb a variety of teaching and behaviour management styles. You’re learning all the time and that is what is so great about this training. The opportunities that have come my way have really helped initiate me into the culture of the school, particularly when I was asked to accompany Year 6 pupils on their residential trip to Kingswood. I have been very fortunate to visit other academies too: observing science teaching and learning at Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park and visiting the SEND pupils within the ARP unit at Harris Primary Academy Merton. So, if you’re on the front foot, if you utterly throw yourself into the training and immerse yourself in school life – the benefits are perennial.

The art of managing the workload in school with the rigours of the core training does presents its issues but if you knuckle down, it’s all doable. I have brilliant support from my mentor, my managing mentor, anyone within the ITE team and literally any other colleague I approach they’re always on hand to advise and assist me. Planning lessons gradually appears less daunting than it did at the start, as do the observations. In fact, I love the observations; yes, they are a bit nervy but it’s your time to show off and strut like a peacock. To demonstrate your passion, knowledge and method of communicating your messages to those eager, onlooking youthful eyes. So far, I have planned: English, Science, History, Religious and Physical Education – no two days are ever the same.

I’d like to thank anyone and everyone who has enabled me to get to this point. I’d loved working in Year 6 thus far but I’m really looking forward to my second alternative placement in Year 1 at Harris Primary Academy Kenley. For now, I get to enjoy the rest of term as we close in on Christmas but bring on 2019 – the best is yet to come!