Kieran: Settling into School
They say that it’s the first few days of school that are the most crucial for a teacher; teachers forge relationships with students and set the tone of their expectations for the rest of the year. All of this, I can say, is completely true – it really is important that we as trainees get to experience those first few days in a school. I can say from my own experience that going into school on the first day of term allowed me to see just how to make those first crucial steps in establishing relationships with students. However, I’d be lying if I were to say that I wasn’t nervous.
Settling into school certainly saw a complete transformation in my daily routine. Having come straight from university, the prospect of waking up anytime before 8AM was not a concept with which I was familiar. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to quickly settle into my new-found routine and have since very much become an ‘early bird’. Although I was very nervous on my first day, my anxieties had been quelled by the fact that I had been able to spend the last three weeks of the Summer Term taking part in work experience. I can whole-heartedly recommend anyone to do this if you are given the opportunity.
Going into my school early provided the opportunity to develop relationships with my new colleagues in the department, as well as understand how curriculum time was used. I met my mentor, school-based co-ordinator and head of department. You will be put in a tutor group as well, and by going into school early ensured that I was able to get to know the students’ names before September. Now, this didn’t mean that I was nerve-free in September, but I already had a basic understanding of school structure and some familiar faces to help me out when I was stuck.
Those first few weeks whilst you’re settling into school are so important, and everyone at the LTSA and my school was so understanding. You are not expected to be a perfect teacher, taking 15 hours of teaching a week. Instead, you spend your first few weeks observing good practice by lots of different teachers, not just in your department. Use this time to really think about what you’re observing. Your training sessions and observation sheets will provide the theory, but it’s really good to see it in practice. Teachers are always very understanding and really do support you – they become your rock.
After the first few weeks, your nerves begin to subside. Your face is no longer a stranger in the school – it’s surprising how quick students come to recognise you as a teacher. Most importantly, you have seen those initial lessons in which relationships which last the year are forged. Alongside this, you begin to feel as though you a member not only of your respective department but as part of the wider school community.
If you take each experience one at a time, you may hopefully find those crucial first few weeks reassuring; it’s not until you have established your relationships with students and colleagues that you can go on to teach.