Tales from new teachers - Memory mishaps

10th January 2014 at 00:00

The problem

When I started my teaching practice, I came to realise that my memory was not as good as it should have been, especially under pressure. I was planning engaging and varied lessons, but as well as not being able to remember the order of the lesson, I was actually forgetting elements of it. Of course, this was problematic: I often had to stop children during tasks, quickly moving them on to the one I had just remembered. I realised that I could not carry on in this way - it was affecting students' learning.

The options

My personal tutor advised me to practise the lesson before teaching it. She said that going through the lesson in front of a mirror would help to flag up any issues, so I tried that, but it wasn't the same as teaching in front of a class. I felt as if I was not using my precious planning time effectively. My mentor understood my concern and assured me that it was acceptable to refer to my plans in lessons.

However, I didn't want to do that repeatedly in front of the children, nor if I was being observed. So I tried making notes on the lesson plan and highlighting key points or steps. But, while I was teaching, I did not make use of the plans. Next, I tried writing the steps on a Post-it note and sticking it to the whiteboard so that I could glance at it. This worked for a while, but I could not rely on it. Fortunately, I then remembered something I had observed in another school: a "learning menu".

The result

Writing a learning menu - objectives for the lesson - on the whiteboard helps me to remember all the steps and activities in the lesson. It also serves as a useful reminder for the children about the direction of their learning, and gives them a sense of achievement when they see that they have completed all parts of the lesson. It really takes the pressure off me and I am able to concentrate more on the students.

Unsurprisingly, I enjoy the lessons much more, and I hope to make further use of learning menus in the future. The only trouble will be remembering to do so ...

The writer is training to be a teacher in the North West of England

Share your experience as a new teacher

Email jon.severs@tes.co.uk.

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