< View All Posts

The Future is Bright….

One of the joys of working in school based initial teacher training is the close links we have with partner schools and the opportunities to work with them in different contexts.  This week I was invited to join The Cherwell School’s World of Work event, where students work with professionals to give them some insight into the demands of different career paths.  I was delighted to see 21 Year 12 students had signed up to find out more about primary teaching.

After talking through the different routes leading to qualified teacher status, we discussed the characteristics that make a great teacher; such as patience, resilience and empathy (their suggestions) which we then mapped to the four elements identified by the Great Teaching Toolkit.

I knew the morning was going to go well when I emptied my bag of picture books and the students immediately started talking about them – both the ones they remembered from childhood and the ones they thought looked appealing.  After some time to explore the books, I set the task of using their chosen picture book as a basis for a lesson focused on one curriculum subject and for a particular year group in the primary phase.  I encouraged them to think in some detail about what this lesson would look like in the classroom.  In their groups there was lots of discussion on assessing prior learning, classroom management and modelling excellence, with some brilliant ideas for lessons which went well beyond the single lesson they were asked to plan originally.

The morning ended with each group presenting their ideas to the rest of the group.  There was an impressive range of subjects including Religious Education, Science, Geography and Art, all with reference to the appropriate curriculum for their chosen year group.  There were great examples of the elements we had discussed, such as one group ensuring that they had supported the children to be ready to listen to their story with ambient music and a calming, meditative activity as they came into the classroom.  Another group had planned a nature walk as part of their lesson, starting off very simply with a leaf on each child’s desk so they could practise looking carefully and identifying similarities and differences before they even left the classroom.

The students were very alert to the social skills young children need to thrive in the classroom.  For example, one group wanted their class to have a discussion, so had planned for the adults in the classroom to model a good discussion as well as providing some good sentence starters for the pupils to use.  A range of ideas for ensuring a respectful classroom were shared, with clear setting of expectations at the start of the lesson shown by all groups.

At the end of the morning I asked if they had revised their ideas about what makes a great teacher.  One student said she had come to realise there had to be a balance between being kind and being firm in behaviour management, while another said she now thought it was crucial to allow the children opportunities to talk within lessons as that allowed you to check their understanding.  My favourite comment was from a student who had realised the importance of modelling to pupils what success looks like in their learning.  A brilliant piece of advice from one novice teacher to others!

I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with Year 12 – they were a super group to work with and I hope their insights into the world of primary teaching lead them to consider this career path in the future.  Thank you, @CherwellEnrich for inviting me along and I look forward to returning to a future event.

Linda Hull – Primary Subject Specialist