As the very wise Kermit the Frog tells us, “it ain’t easy being green.” In this case, I’m talking about being a fresh, green, trainee teacher. Straight out of uni, with not too much experience in a classroom actually doing the teaching, I have never felt more nervous to stand up in front of a group of people than I did last Monday, teaching my first ever full lesson to my Year 10s. I’ve had experience on stage in front of hundreds of people, and even as a dance teacher, but actually teaching the maths they need for their GCSE was utterly terrifying.
On top of that, there was so much to think about. Behaviour management, making sure they understood the content, answering questions, helping everyone that needed it, giving the correct answers, saying the right things, getting their names right… I lay awake the night before absolutely fretting, and then it arrived.
No amount of planning, and no amount of time in PGCE sessions fully prepares you for the first time the class is handed over to you, and you are let loose to teach them. In at the deep end. To be honest, as a trainee, it’s exactly what you need, but also very daunting. It’s like jumping off a tightrope, not knowing how high up you are, or where your safety net is, if there’s one at all.
But here’s the thing, you have got a safety net.
I’d thought, until I started placement, that for the most part it was down to me what happened and how I moved on. Having been on my placement for a few weeks, I’ve realised that, in addition to the support of my friends and family, I have a multitude of safety nets:
- First and foremost, the teacher of your class, in the beginning is on hand for you if you need them. Even when they leave the classroom for a bit, they’re just around the corner for you.
- Your school colleagues. I’ve had massive support from the word go, from sharing lesson ideas, talking through classes, going over resources, answering questions, telling me their experiences of being a trainee, to making me a cup of tea and having a joke at lunch time. They’ve been where I am, and are there to help me get through this placement.
- My peers. Who better to talk to (and sometimes vent to), than the 20ish other people doing exactly the same as you are? Sharing experiences with my PGCE cohort has made me feel much better about everything.
So, the important bit: how did it go? Dismally. The class were noisy and wouldn’t settle, my examples were fine but my explanations went awry, then I completely messed up going through solutions. I was gutted. But also, I was glad. I got a bad one out of the way, and it can only get better (I hope!). I had a really positive lesson the next day, and so it’s onwards and upwards from here.
I may be green, and it’s not easy, but it’s certainly not going to be impossible.
Until next time, wish me luck!