Teaching & Learning

Looking back, moving forward

As the start of my third, and final year of inital teacher education comes ever closer. I am keen to reflect on what I have achieved this year. Looking back to the start of the year, (almost a year to the day), I can remember feeling excited about the start of a new year, in which I would start to tailor my programme, and study subjects I am passionate about. (namely science and technology). At the same time, I was about to embark on training as a mentor to the new first year students about to start their degree programme. I can remember choosing to do this for a couple of reasons (firstly, I had a good experience with my mentor in the first year, and secondly, I wanted something good to put on my CV!). Finally, when I think about my achievements this year, I would have never imagined I am on track to receive a first in my degree, that I have attended the 48th UKLA International Conference in Leeds (through sponsorship from the School of Education), co-founded (and now chair) the first ever Teachers in Training Society, nor that I am about to be published on the role of social media (Facebook and Twitter) in Higher Education.

Subject Specialism: One of the highlights of my year, has been the opportunity to study a subject that I am passionate about (science & technology). Throughout the year, my passion for, and knowledge of science has greatly improved, from having a good grasp of the current National Curriculum for science in England, to enhancing my subject knowledge in physics (specifically electromagnetism). The technology aspect has been covered through a stimulating and challenging project, including cams and electrics. While my main passion is science, I have enjoyed the practical aspect to the course and believe my confidence in teaching design & technology has improved.

Being a mentor: As a mentor to 5 new students, I believe I carried this out to the best of my capacity. Although I did not build excellent relationships with all my mentees, I question whether they needed me, or if I needed them more? Perhaps my desire to have ‘something good on my CV’ outweighed the knowledge and advice I could really share with them. Nonetheless, I am aware of occasions when I have been able to provide guidance and help my mentees. Today, I am still in touch with a couple through Facebook and Twitter (so I must have done something right!). I wonder now, if my mentees have now become the mentors and will be there for the new students, as they enter their second year of the programme.

School Experience 2: I recall my first day on school experience, this year, as one with excitement and anxiety. Excitement about meeting the new class I would get to teach over the coming Autumn term, and anxious about the school itself, would they like me? While most of my anxieties were relieved on the first morning, some remained for a couple of weeks. Overall, it is this placement that boosted my confidence, in believing in myself as a teacher, in being able to deal with challenging behaviour, and to implement new ideas. Although I can now reflect with hindsight and appreciate what I did well, and what I would change. I believe that I have learned through my mistakes on school experience, and consider this as one of the best learning experiences I have had to date.

Academia: I feel my technique has improved, with the quality of my work becoming increasingly reflecting and critical of reading, rather than accepting it as true. I have begun to develop my own opinions on subject matter and feel confident in voicing these within my assignments. One particular difference that has contributed towards this, has been the assessments for Education & Professional Studies (EPS), whereby the focus was on completing a literature review in a critical manner, while we were able to choose the area of Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) for the literature review, I was very aware of the true purpose of this assignment, in preparing me for the ‘real’ literature review as part of the research project next year. Finally, i believe the improvement in my academic grades through the year is directly linked to my confidence levels and ability to question readings and articles.

Moving Forward:I am positive about starting the final year of initial teacher education and I look forward to completing the year and looking back on my final year with interest to see how I have progressed in 12 short months. With just over a year to go until I meet my first ever class of children, I feel there is still a lot to learn in my career, but feel I have the confidence in myself and I’m aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. If there is one thing that has been evident throughout the year it’s this: I started the year as a student, and feel like I’ve ended as a teacher.

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