Tales from new teachers

13th March 2015 at 00:00
crit and miss

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

Share your experience as a new teacher

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today