Katie is keeping a blog of her time at WWLCSD as a trainee English teacher. You can find her blog here;
or read her updates below. Katie will be starting at her new post within one of our alliance schools this September and has kindly agreed to keep going with her blog. Read on for her experiences as an ECT.
ECT Year 2
Entry 2 – Half term
Dark mornings, cold evenings, piles of marking and half term in reach. This time of year, can be particularly challenging.
As part of my ECT programme this year, I have been asked to engage with two pieces of educational research a term. Having faced several hurdles with one class, I have decided to look at seating plans and the layout of the classroom, acting as a resource itself.
Last year, I attended a fantastic CPD event at St Peter’s High School focusing on boys’ behaviour and attitudes towards school. Gary Wilson provided a very insightful outlook on this focus, and I couldn’t wait to try out some of his suggestions. His book ‘Let’s Hear It from the Boys’ covers an array of topics surrounding what they really think about school and how we as teachers can help.
One interesting chapter looks at seating plans and how allowing pupils to ‘sit wherever they like for the first two weeks of the year, before presenting them with a seating plan, is fairly common and is a popular idea with lots of boys. It’s worth a try, providing the teacher has made it abundantly clear that if it’s not working, they will probably be moved for their own benefit.’ (Wilson, 2021, p83).
At the beginning of September, I allowed one particular class (predominantly male) to choose their seats but informed them that if they could not behave and focus on the work, they would be moved. After a couple of weeks, it became apparent that several members of the class were being disruptive therefore abusing their opportunity to sit where they liked. As a result, and as previously explained to them, I implemented a new seating plan.
As well as creating new seating plans, I have recently rearranged my classroom from grouped tables to a horseshoe. Wilson explains ‘rows can prevent you from seeing everybody, so how about the horseshoe for all eyes on you and all pupils contributing in discussion? Or two semicircles? Sitting in groups facilitates group work and group discussion, of course, but if they’re (sadly) not getting much of those, then should we organise the class in that way all the time?’
Other researchers have argued that the semi-circle / horseshoe structure ‘allows students to face the teacher making it easier to get the class’s attention.’
I am looking forward to returning in October to new seating plans and to see how my different classes respond to new layouts within the classroom. What are your thoughts? Is there a seating plan that suits all classes?
Wilson, G. (2021) LET’S HEAR IT FROM THE BOYS. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
Several assignments, seating plans, successes, downfalls, hair colours, a wedding and 12 months later I am sat at the same desk doing what I love.
The last academic year was without a doubt one of the most challenging yet rewarding years of my life. Who knew that one person could complete their first Early Careers Teacher year alongside studying for a Masters in Education AND plan a wedding? The late nights, frustration and tears have been worth it, giving me the confidence and foundations to begin my second ECT year.
My training and first ECT year were different to any other; the dynamics of the classroom and teaching itself completely changed due to the pandemic. This year however, will (hopefully) see teaching return to normality – something I need to get my head around too!
This blog will provide an honest and sometimes comical insight into the life of an ECT providing readers the opportunity to read first-hand what the profession entails and to experience the daily ups and downs of an ECT. And finally, I hope this platform will provide you with ideas and inspiration for your own lessons and classroom.
ECT Year 1
ECT year 1
13:44 on a rainy Wednesday lunchtime and I am sat in my classroom, reflecting on the last seven weeks. I would be guilty of lying if I said I am still full of the zestful energy I had back in September; oh to feel like that again! October half term is just around the corner and I will be recuperating my sleep and rest, and of course busying myself with planning and assessments.
My first half term as an ECT has been somewhat challenging but also delightful. A learning curve too! Where once stood a mentor at the back of the classroom, an open window now lets in a gentle breeze of fresh air striving to keep Covid-19 at bay. My to-do-list has never been so extensive, my voice so sore and my eyes so heavy. I have never in my life, owned or lost as many biros as I have over the last month or so.
Nonetheless, I have never felt so welcomed by 120 plus beaming faces every day along with the occasional “Hi Miss!”, “Thanks Miss.” Or “Miss, can I tell you about…” Each day I go home knowing that I have done my very best at making a change to the young peoples’ lives of whom I am lucky enough to meet. Surely, that is what teaching is all about, right?
Rewind two months and I was enjoying the Easter sunshine getting in plenty of rest before starting my second placement. Fast forward to today and I have completed my initial teacher training, secured my first ECT position for September and have a splendid 8 weeks of summer to look forward to.
The thought of greeting my first class in September and closing the door realising it is just me and them, still seems quite surreal. To think that a year ago I had zero experience in a classroom or with children (unless you count my nephews) and I am now a well-trained English teacher, is a marvellous achievement. It has been one of the strangest years for us all; but especially for those working in education. I have gained invaluable skills training throughout a global pandemic from Microsoft Teams, hybrid lessons, managing behaviour via online platforms and much more. If I were asked to summarise training this year in just a few words, it would definitely be: “is your microphone on mute?”
Despite the challenges and obstacles faced over the last 10 months, I have received phenomenal support, advice and met friends for life. I can’t wait to start a new chapter in September in a place where I can call home.
With one session left at university, results pending and a masters application in process, it’s time to breathe, relax and prepare for September. I hope you have enjoyed these blog posts as I will be continuing to share with you my journey as an English teacher as I transition from a trainee to an ECT (early careers teacher).
The sun is shining; I’ve got an iced coffee by the side of me and my hair is drying in the spring breeze as I sit back and reflect on what has been one of the most exciting weeks in a very long time.
Good Friday is here and the first half of my Easter holidays have passed. Rewind two days ago and I was sat in an interview room for an NQT English role in my dream school: my first placement. After hours and hours of preparation, practicing the lesson and role playing Q&A, I am ecstatic to say that I was successful and have secured my first NQT position for September. I couldn’t be happier!
No longer do I have to sit for hours on end filling in applications, writing cover letters and researching schools. Soon I’ll be starting my second placement and although I’ll miss my first school, the new experiences and challenges will teach me so much! I’m looking forward to having some down time this Easter and am about to dive into ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and escape for a little while.
It’s lunch time and I’m sat in an empty classroom. I doubt I’ll see anyone for the rest of the day unless it’s waving at a pupil or colleague walking down the corridor hidden behind their face mask, or when I head to the car park as others say goodbye to another Monday in lockdown.
On a brighter note, I had a restful half term and had the time to submit another assignment and ticked jobs off my endless to-do-list. I even created a ‘reading corner’ at home, a space where I can curl up, switch off from reality and tune into another world. I love it! This space has given me inspiration to set up my own book blog which will be available on More Than Just a Timetable in due course, so stay tuned!
I can’t wait to teach my year 8 class period 5. It gets lonely working alone. At some point in the past, I would have been grateful for some peace and quiet as I plan lessons, work on university assignments and read, but not now. The sounds of heels echoing down the corridor is a comforting sound along with the distant laughter of pupils enjoying the winter sun.
20 weeks into my training, 15 weeks left and I’m praying we get some face-to-face teaching with pupils before another school year is over.
Despite the challenges that may arise, I feel organised and ready for the next five weeks.
Happy New Year!
So much has changed in the last couple of months and I’m still getting my head around most of it! I’ve been back at school for two weeks and like all the other tremendous teachers out there, have been facing the challenges of online lessons.
Despite teaching some hybrid lessons last term, this still feels very raw! Sometimes I’m teaching in an empty classroom and it’s heart breaking. I miss greeting my pupils as they enter the classroom and seeing their smiley faces as they say “Hi Miss.”
Before starting every online lesson, a wave of anxiety and frustration come over me. I wonder how well the lesson will go, if the pupils will enjoy it, will they be able to hear me and will I be able to hear them? I think we can all agree that the quote of 2020 was something along the lines of, “Can you hear me? Turn your mic on!”
Nevertheless, these worries disappear once I hear those voices at the other side of the screen and I commend them all for their effort and patience throughout this lockdown. No one wants to be stuck at home, unable to see their friends. I just look forward to the day we can all be back in one room together.
Although a challenging year to train to be a secondary English teacher, I feel that these skills will mould and shape me into the most resilient, creative, patient and caring teacher I could ever be.
This is an undoubtedly extremely hard job for everybody, but starting the new year virtually is the safest option. Safety and care is at the forefront of education and we need to do what we need to protect everyone.
Wow. Is it really half term already?
I’ve blinked and it’s two months since I began my journey training to become an English teacher. Come to think of it, it’s been pretty amazing how eight weeks ago I thought I’d be never be that person standing at the front of a classroom full of 11-16 year-old school pupils. Well, fast-forward a term and you’re looking right at that person!
For the last fortnight I have been observing KS5 English classes at a local college. Although I only spent the best part of two weeks there, it was certainly an eye-opener to other possibilities that are out there!
However, I intend to have a break this week and get of plenty of rest, binge-watch Netflix (open to any suggestions), drink copious amounts of hot chocolate and get stuck into my assignment.
Four weeks later and I have explored the school grounds, observed a variety of lessons and teachers, attended University and taught my first starter.
Last week I experienced my first ever online lecture and it was rather impressive. 500 plus trainees learning about the science behind learning via webcam was something I’d never thought I’d do, but here I am. I found this session particularly interesting, especially as I had zero knowledge or experience in psychology.
A day later, I found myself sat in my first English seminar on Liverpool Hope Campus. It was quite daunting at first, a place usually bursting with life was painfully quiet. Nevertheless, it was comforting to meet my peers and discuss with them the challenges the pandemic has brought us and I left feeling very optimistic, knowing that I have the best support bubble around me.
My first starter took place only yesterday, which again was so odd – teaching a year 8 class via Microsoft Teams was something I would never have envisaged. However, being a trainee involves a lot of in-depth lesson planning and this definitely gave me some confidence when it came to delivering the activity – a 5 mark practice question. I must admit, I was very anxious, but after a few technical hiccups, I was pleased with how the class engaged in the lesson and was comforted by the feedback from my mentor.
These next few weeks I will face new challenges – more starters, different classes and abilities along with starting my first University assignment. I look forward to sharing with you my experience soon.
A Fresh Start
Hi, my name is Katie and I have just started the next chapter in my life as a 25-year-old going into teacher training.
Being a teacher is something I’ve always wanted to do. As a young girl, I’d neatly arrange my teddies and dolls into rows and play teachers. I’d take the register and teach them spellings on a DIY whiteboard made of plastic wallets and white card. After graduating from university in 2016 with a journalism degree and exploring roles in marketing and communications, I decided it was time to take the plunge and apply for teacher training.
It’s been two days since I walked into a room full of other trainee teachers for the first time. Nerves and excitement had taken over my sleep the night before and I was running off copious amounts of coffee.
From dress codes to behavioural management and classroom layouts, I now feel at ease and prepared to set foot in school next week. In the middle of a pandemic, team Sarah – yes, there are two of them – were superb at providing a relaxing and informative induction.
As part of Cohort 7, I feel that we have been well-informed about what to expect as a trainee teacher. Yes, there is going to be lots of hard work, assignments and long days and nights, but it’ll all be worth it!
Although a short and sweet opening to More Than Just a Timetable, I hope you will join me on my journey over the next 10 months as I go from a journalism graduate working in marketing and communications, to a (hopefully) English teacher.