Diary of a trainee: I’ve finally taught my first lesson

Trainee Kay Pearce has been building up to her first moment in front of a class - and now the time is here

Kay Pearce

NQT first lessons: child riding bike without stabilisers

This was the week we had all been waiting for with a combination of anticipation, trepidation and terror: actually teaching.

I have been counselling myself in preparation with some real growth mindset corkers; making mistakes is part of learning, I embrace challenges, I welcome criticism and feedback or at least I will try to. 

I promised myself that I would take feedback with good grace and try not to cry. Then reflect, reflect and reflect some more.

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My first lesson is maths with Year 3. We are adding multiples of 10s to a three-digit number. 

The plan is to start by drawing number lines on the tables, then working through examples from our chosen resources. We will use place value grids and counters and consolidate knowledge with the work in books.

Unless, that is, we are five minutes late back from assembly and it turns out that drawing a number line actually takes 10 to 15 minutes (not two), I forget to ask the children to record any of the number line activity in their books and I realise I am meant to stop at five past and it’s already 10.01. 

I check with the teacher and with a wry but encouraging smile, she says we can do a bit of work in the books after break. Note to self, avoid number lines.

By my second lesson, I have decided I cannot avoid number lines for the rest of my career. I have adapted the activity, they label the number lines I have made, make some calculations and we get them stuck in the books in an efficient eight minutes ... and so it goes. 

Lessons learned

What have I learned already? So much. What have the children learned? Maybe a little more about number lines? I hope so.  

The class teacher gives a balanced informal observation. She starts with the positives (some of which were things I didn’t even realise I had done) and she presents criticism constructively and sensitively. I welcome it, feel positive about it and really hope to build from it.

Like me, many of the people on our course are keen to feel that they are going to get a good mark, a good report, be near the top of the class or at least get some house points for trying. 

We’re mostly people who loved school because that was our experience and that is why we’re back here. The other thing we have in common is that we really care. We don’t want to let the children down, for them to come away from our teaching understanding less than they did before.

We don’t want to let our class teachers down, to add to their already massive workload or put them two lessons behind this week’s planning thanks to our incompetence.

I truly believe, wrapped up with these feelings, is the bit of us that was born to be a teacher. We try, we care, we reflect.

The other part of the teacher, the bit that is made, will be is wrapped up in embracing the challenges, taking the criticism, making mistakes and learning from it all.

Kay Pearce is currently a trainee teacher with the Ilkley All Saints' Teacher Training Partnership

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