Starting out – first half-term as an ECT
By Lily Middleton – PGCE ML trainee 2020-2021
It’s mid-October and I’m isolating. My delightful Year 7 form has come down with Covid-19- it started at one side of the classroom, spread to the other, and then, predictably, to me (despite my very best efforts). To be truthful, aside from the horrendous fever, I am appreciative to have a day to sit down and write this blog. That’s probably an indication of how busy the past month and a half has been for me.
So far as an ECT I have realised two things: I am very capable, and just because a teacher has 25 years more experience than you, doesn’t always mean they know better. (Hello to speaking up in meetings!)
I teach three subjects: Spanish to three year 8 classes, two year 9 classes, one GCSE year 10 class, Religious Studies to a year 10 class and an English Literature support class for year 11. At first I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I seem to be doing ok!
I work in a big school, it has got a huge catchment area so there are students from every walk of life. I really like this, I think I made the right choice. The MFL department is supportive and very organised, and I am pleasantly surprised to see the Curriculum Lead is the teacher that taught me GCSE Spanish all those years ago…
For MFL all classes are set into three: set one being ‘top’, set ‘two’ being mixed attainment, and set three ‘bottom’ (a term I absolutely hate). Currently, it is not compulsory to take a language for GCSE. It was bizarre at first teaching in this way as the school I spent placement 1 and 3 in did not set for languages, and a language was compulsory at GCSE.
Behaviour in the lower sets is a challenge. Fortunately, the school has a robust behaviour policy. (A child wrote me an apology letter this week, which I found kind of wholesome.) I have one bottom set year 8 group that has such a vast range of attainment, some pupils are very able and behave impeccably, while others can barely write their own name. I always thought I would prefer teaching higher up the school and to top sets, but this has proved me wrong. I believe that it is those students who struggle the most that need excellent lessons and supportive teachers the most. I had a breakthrough with one of those particular pupils on a lunch duty the other week. Admittedly I didn’t do much litter picking, we did play a whole half-hour of eye spy and now he says he looks forward to Spanish classes.
I still have loads to learn, I doubt that will ever stop. But so far, I’m happily chipping away at the ECT program, one day at a time! (after my period of isolation ends).
(Some responses from a form-time wellness “All About Me” session (before they gave me Covid!))