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Stephen Newell

Stephen Newell

DT Trainee 2019-2020

" During my excellently organised school experience day and interview process the team came across as relentlessly passionate about teaching and how much they believe in it. Now I am on the course I can promise that is absolutely true!"

If you have ever worked in a job that is dynamic and on the move then you will know how exciting that buzz and adrenaline rush can be. I was looking for a career change that would promise that same level of fast-pace and was directed towards teaching by a friend who knew of the i2i Teaching Partnership. I can safely say that teaching never stops moving and can guarantee before every lesson in your training year, you will get that adrenaline rush!

As a career- changer, joining the world of teaching was quite hard to adjust to at first due to the transition to a very different way of working from what I had been used to, having only worked for one company since I left university eight years ago. You spend a lot of time wondering if you made the right decision, worrying about the financial implications and aware you are on a very long and hard journey as part of your training year. Initially it feels very overwhelming – there are a lot of procedures, rules, student’s names to learn and people to get to know within your new placement school before you consider your training that happens in parallel with this. Also, you realise children are very intimidating when there is a whole class load in front of you! If you have no experience of being in school as a career-changer, this can be a hard adjustment when it seems many of your fellow trainees seem to be loving it! Your confidence is very quickly knocked back and you are very become mentally exhausted in the first month. On top of this, it seems every week as part of your training there is something else to do, that adds to an increasing workload, right up until the first half term.  

But fear not! Remember how you feel when you apply and where you want to be by the end of it all. Keep that at the forefront of your mind as after half term, it is about as hard as it gets as you start to gather your pace and things start to click into place. The i2i team do an excellent job of drip-feeding in the work so you are structured and not too overwhelmed. The run up to Christmas is a hard half term and seems impossibly long, but when you look back it has gone in a flash! You realise you have made progress and can begin to see how you are on your way to be like your fellow teaching colleagues, which in September seems unachievable. It then becomes clear that you are not running a race but a marathon and you have found your own pace. After the Christmas break, once refreshed you really start to fly and teaching starts to fall into place – things start to make sense and you will look back on your first month and wonder what you were worrying about. Hang on in there is my only advice – especially if the world of children and teaching seems all rather foreign – it does get better, but expect it!

My top tips for succeeding in your training year are to pace yourself and be systematically organised. Know what you need to do and by when! This will help by not spending time worrying about things as this is all wasted energy. If you keep your set pace up at all times everything else falls into place. There is a lot of admin to be on top of so keep working at this and do not let any one thing dominate too much of your time in one go, a difficult lesson or perhaps a lesson you are excited about teaching, or the PGCE. I organised myself at the start, knowing when all the deadlines are and how much time you have to do things, that will even out the stress points! The i2i team provide all of this up front so you know how the training year will run. This helped me as a lot of things at school come up as teaching is dynamic and suddenly your day to day plans will change as things come up without warning! My other advice is to work smart – if there is an easier way of doing something – do it. If the school has good resources – use them, but obviously work out your own way to teach it. I think it is all fair to say that most trainees spend their first few months trying to reinvent teaching with fancy resources and PowerPoints - ultimately how you teach it is what makes the difference, not how fancy it looks – focus on that. Your first term is about surviving in front of a class for an hour or so and engaging the students to learn along the way!

I chose the i2i partnership as I felt I would get the best training and the most support with them – you only need to look at the facilities and the friendly staff to realise how high their expectations are of their students and staff alike. During my excellently organised school experience day at Weydon and interview process the team came across as relentlessly passionate about teaching and how much they believe in it. Now I am on the course I can promise that is absolutely true! The application and interview process was also the least intimidating of the schools i applied for, with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere throughout the whole day. It showed to me they really understand how I felt, with school life a completely alien world to me at that point!

My final advice is that the rewards of teaching will come with time, and you will take from it what you give. Of course the first term may have more challenges than successes, but remember to focus on the good points, however small. Some little things can carry you a long way, such as a student that is really proud of their work you have helped them complete or getting the right answer – you made that difference! Children are a fascinating variable – they will give you good days and bad days but the best bit is that you have absolutely no idea until you start a lesson how well it will go – there aren’t many jobs that can do that and no two days will ever be the same!

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