Your teacher training year is said to be the most challenging part of your teaching life.
However, we, the trainees of 2020, have had it extra tough with final placements cancelled so that, within the space of a week, our PGCE year has come to an abrupt halt. We now know QTS will be based on progress judgements.
If nothing else it has given me crisis-management skills I will be able to use in my practice for a lifetime and, if I wasn’t already proud to be entering this profession, I sure am now.
However, like many trainee teachers, I feel as if our year hasn’t properly come to an end. But, having had a vigorous work ethic instilled into us to make every second of this year as productive as possible, there are ways we can ensure that this time lost to classroom training is useful in other ways.
Coronavirus: Advice for trainee teachers
1. Create a routine
As humans, we crave routine; as teachers, we live and breathe our timetables.
Just because you’re at home, it does not mean you should treat every day like a Saturday.
Instead, create a timetable of activities to do. This may be reading, journaling, decluttering, gardening – anything.
Now is the time to do that job you really didn’t want to do. Mine was clearing out my wardrobe. Whatever it is, this should help you retain that sense of structure that is so important to a teaching career.
2. Become a social butterfly
Your social life can easily become vacuumed as a trainee, so use this time wisely to reconnect.
Social interactions are so important for our emotional wellbeing. Video call your friends. Text that course-mate.
It is also a great time to look for opportunities to grow as a teacher.
One easy way to do this is by creating a professional Twitter account – most of the time it is the most helpful continuing professional development on the market. There’s a real (virtual) community on there that is more than happy to help and support you.
3. Be reflective
One piece of advice I have never forgotten is to reflect on your lessons in their entirety; even the good, the bad and the ugly ones.
Sometimes, this can be really difficult and we can be very critical of ourselves, but use this time to work out what you believe are your strengths and weaknesses.
All of this information will become super useful when you start your NQT year and create intervention plans with your NQT mentor.
4. Keep those cogs turning
Do not switch off. There are still teachers working and, more importantly, lots of pupils at home who may not have that routine that they so dearly need.
So take this opportunity to be as well-read as possible surrounding educational issues. We are here to propel pupils, to make them realise their potential regardless of their background.
When September comes, they are going to need you. So be ready to tackle the situation with a well-read, refreshed and motivated mind!
5. Reading recommendations
Use this time to read as many career-relevant books and articles as possible before your NQT year begins.
As a recent MA in social justice and education graduate from the University of York, my research area is social class and disadvantaged pupils in education. For anyone interested in finding out more about this area, I recommend reading:
The New Poverty – Stephen Armstrong.
Taking Up Space: The black girl’s manifesto for change – Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi.
The Class Ceiling: Why it pays to be privileged – Daniel Laurison and Sam Friedman.
No doubt you have your own suggestions based on your own areas of study. Why not share them below or set up a reading group with your fellow PGCE cohort to share your favourites? You can even host a virtual book group to chat about them afterwards.