Reflecting on my contrasting school experience
As part of my training route, I was required to complete a ‘contrasting school experience’ to broaden my outlook on the profession in general, enhance my developing skills in a new and unchartered context and to afford myself the opportunity to trial new teaching and learning strategies that I had not had the means or confidence to up to this point.
My experience at an ‘Outstanding’ school in Halifax was an overwhelmingly positive one from start to finish. It allowed me to gain a different perspective on teaching and learning at a school with a more traditional approach, exposing me to the pros and cons of both methods and expanding my skillset further. Above all, I was afforded the opportunity to gain some really valuable CPD in terms of challenging a high ability Year 11 class in a topic that I had not previously taught. This was of a huge benefit, as it allowed me to develop my subject knowledge in an area that I will teach next year, and gave me some worthwhile strategies in terms of challenging higher ability students that I will utilise moving forward. Specifically, with the use of the GCSE pre-release booklet which is proving beneficial as we start to utilise this resource with our Year 11 students at LWA.
I was particularly struck by the calm and unified atmosphere at my placement school. It was clear that the school’s ‘family’ ethos had been well embedded through practices such as ‘Vertical Tutoring’ in which all year groups are mixed together in forms. I witnessed Year 11 girls helping their younger peers with their homework and the relationships that these students had been able to foster within this time clearly paid dividends around the Academy, where older students were often seen having a stern word with their younger classmates for their silly behaviour. I feel that this positive climate around the school extended into the classrooms and fostered a really positive climate for learning. Behaviour was outstanding and despite being warned that some classes I would be teaching in the week were known to be difficult, I felt that I was able to really concentrate on my teaching practice within my lessons, and that students responded well to my teaching style. I felt that this experience improved my confidence in my developing skills, but also in my management of behaviour, which I have undoubtedly brought back to LWA as I sought to re-assert my high expectations following my placement.
The wider opportunities for networking that this experience has afforded me will, without doubt, benefit my career and my teaching practice moving forward. I feel that such connections will only serve to underpin the fantastic support I receive at LWA and enhance my own CPD. As a new teacher, especially during the stressful and dark first few months, it can be easy to lose sight of why you got into the profession. This experience definitely gave me a new lease of life, allowed me to see the profession in a different context and equipped me with some valuable skills that I can now embed within my practice at LWA. I would urge any new teacher to seek CPD opportunities from multiple locations, be that external training providers, within your school, your wider academy trust, or elsewhere.
Teaching can sometimes feel lonely and overwhelming but accessing support from within your school and beyond in terms of CPD and wellbeing can leave you feeling refreshed, well-equipped and ready to take on this amazing career of ours!