Tales from new teachers

Crit and miss

Tes Editorial

The problem

I was not long into my training and my first assessed visit (aka crit) was looming. Everything was going to plan: I'd enjoyed seven weeks of ruminating on theories of pedagogy, I'd completed my first assignment and I had a two-week induction under my belt. My decision to change career after 17 years, swapping a good salary for a student loan, seemed to be paying off.

The crit was due to take place three weeks into my first placement. In the run-up, I immersed myself in the life of the school, learning children's names, writing lesson plans and, most importantly, trying to teach pupils in a fun, dynamic way. I soon found my feet and was thriving.

The day of the crit arrived and I was expecting to show off my teaching prowess. I had written the lesson plan, rehearsed it, organised the classroom, developed resources and greeted the pupils with a genuine smile on my face. My tutor was sat at the back of the room with all the relevant paperwork. Off we went, and for 50 minutes everything I did was scrutinised. Then it was over.

The options

It felt like the worst lesson I had taught in my short career. I simply hadn't accounted for my nerves about being assessed. Even during the lesson I had been thinking about what I should have done better.

Had I shared the learning intentions fully? Did I cover all my planned teaching points? My tutor was poker-faced as I gathered up the debris (physically and mentally) and took a seat to hear her feedback.

She gave me pointers on how to gain more authority in class, suggesting that I include more detail in my time plan, focus on structuring the lesson better and hold firm on behaviour. However, she thought that I had presented the lesson in an enthusiastic and articulate manner and had demonstrated a good questioning technique.

Then she uttered the magic words: "The lesson was satisfactory." I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The result

On reflection, I'm pleased that I didn't have a great first crit. The feedback shaped all the teaching I did over the following weeks, and I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.

I am now champing at the bit for my next placement.

The writer is a student secondary teacher in Scotland

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