When I first applied to the KNSTE SCITT I simultaneously knew that teaching was something I wanted to do and yet was absolutely terrified by the idea of standing up in front of a class. I have always worried myself through public speaking and the idea of speaking to 30 people at once filled me with dread. I was able to put that fear to the back of my mind though until I began. It was a bridge I would cross when I needed to.
The KNSTE were fantastic in their provision for our 2020-2021 cohort during the pandemic. We weren’t able to go into schools immediately so we had all our information sessions front-loaded which I think gave us a clearer understanding of what outstanding lessons looked like. We first did ‘zoom teach’ which was a source of our grumbling but was incredibly useful as we were able to question one another’s pedagogical choices after observing one another teach on zoom. That was probably one of the most nerve-wracking parts! You had to get over the strangeness of teaching primary lessons to a group of post-graduate students, and asking for them to join in. It was most nerve-wracking because it was my first experience of teaching a class and it was to a group of people I didn’t quite know yet. Luckily, everyone was very supportive.
In the beginning it’s a lot of pretending – pretending to teach like a teacher. I was unsure of how my voice sounded, was it happy-clappy enough? Was it too formal? The most important thing at that stage was having that first go. I could develop voice, presence and everything else later. I just needed to dive straight in.
After a few days in my first placement class, my teacher-educator and I planned a short game as part of a maths warm-up that would be my first ever whole-class ‘teaching’. It was meant to take 15 minutes and I took 50. I was so consumed in how much fun we were all having that I didn’t check the time. (I can happily report that I did eventually manage to get my warm-ups down to their allotted timescale.) But I was baffled at how not-nervous I was. I knew from then onwards that standing up and teaching wouldn’t be so terrifying. I just didn’t feel the nerves I expected to feel. I could talk and laugh and walk around without my voice shaking and my knees knocking together.
I felt nervous occasionally when I planned lessons on subjects I wasn’t as confident in. I learned the best way to fight those nerves was doing my own homework to ensure I could feel more happy about those subjects. I always preferred planning and preparing my own lessons too so I understood the intentions of the lesson. It was also really useful having prepared back up activities so that if lessons finished early we were never short of something to be getting on with.
Another strange experience as a result of the pandemic was teaching on google classroom in front of parents during the second lockdown. You just couldn’t overthink it. Parents want the best for their pupils and they knew I was still learning.
Our cohort had a tricky time of it this year as a result of the pandemic. There was a lot of uncertainty about placements and whether we would be welcomed into schools but the SCITT always had a contingency plan. I think we have emerged more resilient and experienced teachers as a result as we enter into an ever-evolving profession.
My next adventure is supply teaching, which will be a big change. Going from teaching classes I have great relationships with to ones I won’t know. But I take a great deal of confidence from all of my experiences this year and with the support of the KNSTE SCITT. For now, I will prepare as much as I can but the nerves are a bridge I will cross when I need to.
KNSTE Associate Teacher 2020-21, ECT 2021-22