10 tips for a trainee teacher

Well, the time has come for my (not – so – but – also – slightly) dreaded placement block. I was having a nosy on my memory pen earlier and noticed that I had this typed up for some very strange reason, so thanks past me. I won’t lie and say that I am bursting with excitement for tomorrow or the next seven weeks but I am happy to say that I feel a lot more confident than I have in the past years.

It’s strange to think that this will be my last placement as a student teacher and in a few months time, I will offically be a qualified teacher ready to take on the world of preparing future generations. So god help anyone who has their child put in my class, just kidding lol!

So, for those of you who are about to embark on their first, second, third or maybe last teaching practice, here are some top tips. Not that I really need to tell any of you.

Truthfully, I think these tips are mostly for me and I won’t lie, having read them for the first time in a while, it was strangely calming. I might actually put a reminder in my phone to read these once a week. So without further ado,

Dear future Chloe,

  • Take an extra 10 minutes before you go to bed to do a verbal checklist of what you need for the next day – this could save you a lot of panic and a cold-sweat moment as you’re lying in bed worrying about whether you are prepared or not for your next day with the little darlings.
  • Choose your placement outfit for the next day, the night before – again another time saving moment in the long run. Nothing is worse than running about your house at 10 to eight screaming to your mum about where the newly ironed placement clothes are. Have this screaming match the night before, instead!
  • Make your own resources – it is very handy to just make a quick trip to TPT or Twinkl but making your own resources can be better in the long run as you have a sense of accomplishment and you have it up your sleeve for later years!
  • Don’t panic about tutor visits – yes, of course they are scary, believe me, I know. But, there is no point in getting worked up about it – if you are nervous, this will translate to the children! Be confident, you know the kids!
  • Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself – following from tutor visits, if your tutor says something that you don’t agree with or aren’t sure about, SAY! You are an adult and there has been times where I wish I have said something but been too afraid because I am the student.
  • Get involved in school life – try to involve yourself as much as you can, take opportunities, make links. This is an opportunity for you to create a (good!) name for yourself, so take it.
  • Pack a nice lunch the night before – nothing is better than making it to lunch time on a placement day knowing that you have a cracker lunch up your sleeve! For easiness, I tend to bring Heinze spaghetti or soup but nothing is better knowing I have Granny’s homemade soup or some leftover chilli con carne from the night before.
  • Stay on top of your workload – I won’t beat around the bush, placement is a busy time in the university year so make it easy on yourself by staying on top of your lesson plans, schemes of work, daily evaluations and round ups for the week. It will be much better doing this than rushing all of it in preparation for a visit from your tutor!!
  • Stay on top of your marking – another perk of the job. Not unlike staying on top of the university workload, you must stay on top of your marking as well, even if it means being almost last to leave. Nothing beats the pleasure of knowing that you won’t have much to do towards the end of your block.
  • Show your thanks to the school – this one is probably the most important. Show your thanks to the teachers, classroom assistants and the Principal. It might be overwhelming knowing that someone is watching you teach but they are there to help and offer some great advice if you let them.
I don’t have a picture looking teacher-y but here’s me in my slippers with a big glass of pink gin!

What I have learned about myself over the course of my degree

Following along from my up-beat post about Disney, I figured I would take a minute to write about how I feel I have changed over the past four years. I’ll be honest, I’m a bit mortified about this post but go easy on me.

When I first entered Stranmillis, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 18-year-old, ready to teach the future generation of tomorrow. Now, here I am, writing this post as a tired and fed-up 22-year-old. And I’m not saying that I’m tired and fed-up of teaching, I’m not. I just feel that I need to try and do other things before I get a ‘real’ job.

Four years ago, when deciding what university to choose, I was adamant that I wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t possibly leave my mum and while I’m not a home-bird, I just felt like a fish out of water when I visited universities across the pond. But now, four years later, I’m currently mapping out where I’m going to go next. After living in Orlando in the States and Poznań in Poland, I’ve found that I am capable of living away from home and that I’m much more independent than I thought I was. I also recently had the opportunity to observe and teach in a British school in Dubai which was the most surreal experience.

I know that writing this, it sounds as though my primary teaching degree could be the biggest waste of my time. But I know it isn’t or at least I think it won’t be. I have learned a lot over the course of my degree and it’s presented me with tons of opportunities. I’m a lot more confident as a person and my personal skills have developed ten-fold. And I never would have caught my bug for travelling if I hadn’t gone to Stranmillis. I also know that maybe some-day I will come back and try to get a primary teaching job, maybe after what seems to be a quarter-life crisis.

I guess what this diary-esque post is trying to say is: don’t limit yourself with your choices. There are lots of opportunities that will open and close throughout your life. I think when leaving school, kids are expected to know exactly what you want and are going to do for the rest of your life. But that’s not true. The saying: one door closes as another opens is so painfully accurate and if you don’t open yourself to other possibilities, you’ll never learn things about yourself that you never knew.

Maybe I never will leave Bangor, maybe I will. Who knows? But that’s okay.

Here’s a photo of me in Poznań lol