Reflections on my first term: Sophie Howarth: English

sophie-howarthI can’t quite believe that my first term- and with that my first placement- as a School Direct trainee is over. It has flown, yet at the same time it feels as though I’ve been doing this all my life. From walking up the drive, suffering from first day nerves on the 1st September, to driving through the gates on the 18th December with the last day blues, so much has happened. I have learnt so much, (hopefully) taught so much and I feel I’ve changed so much, in terms of practice, confidence and creativity.

I knew I wanted to teach after having tried my hand at a few work experience placements within the media industry, but found them to be, for me, lacking in something. I secured a job as a Teaching Assistant, and from then on I was convinced of my desire to teach. The reactive nature of the job, the buzz of a lively classroom and the relationships that can be formed with some amazing young people had me hooked. To begin with I was excited, but I was more nervous than I’d anticipated myself to be, having previously come from a school environment. My first time in front of a class wasn’t exactly a roaring success, but this is the good thing about School Direct. I feel that the absolute dread of ‘A Bad Lesson’ is actually far worse in theory than it is in practice. Ultimately, a lesson that falls a bit short can be one of the best things for your training, as the amount of feedback and support that is then offered by mentors and teachers is both immeasurable and invaluable. After taking all of the advice on board, I was excited to implement new strategies, resources and ideas, and it is this, I feel, that has been instrumental in me seeing a real change in myself.

One of the reasons I am so glad to have chosen School Direct with the Northern Alliance is having the freedom to try new things- your classes really feel like your own-, but also knowing that there is an absolute wealth of support available if it is needed; be this from a professional mentor, subject mentor, the department or of course my fabulous fellow trainees, who have played a big part in making the first term so enjoyable.

Once I had my behaviour management and classroom presence in order, the next challenge was to begin experimenting with different teaching methods. Highlights of the past term have included sitting in a Hillary Devey mask, next to one of my pupils as Duncan Bannatyne, whilst the rest of the class took it in turns to pitch their own unique holiday destinations to me, watching my Year 8s engage in a passionate and informed debate about youth justice, after having used the novel ‘Holes’ as a stimulus, and a hug from a Year 9 student after having been away at university for a week.

I am now a week into my second placement and am already enjoying my new school, bolstered by a confidence I didn’t necessarily have when I started in September, but which I can attribute to my experiences since then. The new start has snapped me out of my festive food coma, and I am quickly learning the different approaches and standards of my new placement.  More importantly, I am eager to get to know my new classes so that I can start teaching them, and in return, they me.

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