I haven’t blogged much since I’ve been on my second teaching placement, I just haven’t had the time or energy! A lot has happened in the intervening time. I’ve progressed as a teacher, under the expert eye of my excellent Mentor, I’ve been selected to be part of a European Mobility programme for initial teacher training and will be going to visit schools in Slovakia in April, and last week I succeeded in getting a job!
I thought it was worth posting some sections from my overall reflection on this teaching placement.
My teaching style
I was very fortunate to have an interview for a job and succeed in getting the post during my last week on my second placement. During the interview I was asked to describe my teaching style. Throughout the PGCE we have been encouraged to think about our classroom philosophy and teaching styles and express these in our professional autobiographies (and ultimately for our job application letters). Up until the interview this is a question I have always struggled with, perhaps because I had not seen many styles of teaching or been able to recognise the ethos of a school or classroom. However, being forced to describe my style under pressure I surprised myself and came up with something that is probably fairly close to how I hope I teach. I felt that I was calm and tried to foster an atmosphere where trying to think or working through a problem was more important than getting the right answer. I said I wanted to create an environment in which children felt safe to take risks and make mistakes, be independent and creative. I felt that my relationship with the children was the most important part of my teaching, that there was mutual trust and respect.
One of the main realisations that I know will help me progress in my next placement is that I need to establish myself in the classroom quickly by following and applying the school discipline policy immediately. Once the children had become used to having me in the classroom they began to test my boundaries to see how I would respond. It took me three weeks before I really bit the bullet and used the sanction system in the school properly, consistently and followed through with my actions. Once I started, the children responded by meeting my expectations for behaviour and I could work much more effectively with them and concentrate on questioning, assessment and delivery during lessons. On my next placement, I will ask my Mentor what strategies they used to establish themselves with the class when they started working together in September. I think one of the problems I had was that I saw strategies my Mentor was using and copied those, not realising that she had used the full sanction system repeatedly at the beginning of the year. When we discussed this, it was clear that I needed to be much more strict as I did not have the long history of trust and boundaries that she had built with her class from the beginning of the year. On my next placement this will be even more important, as the teacher will have worked with their class for a nearly a whole year.