By the time you have found my voice reader, I hope that the unprecedented situation that the UK is in has passed, or, is beginning to come to an end. Schools shut on Friday 20th March, just as my SCITT colleagues and I were getting ready to go on our SEND placement the week before the Easter Holidays. I felt confident about this as I come from an SEN background and I was keen to see SEND education from a teachers perspective rather than the ETA view I had come from.
Everyone was feeling very uncertain about what was going to happen, right until it did. Sitting in the staff room at my placement school, it felt like the wave of school closures was creeping slowly across the European continent toward our little island. I heard of trainees on university courses getting told to go to campus rather than their placement schools. The planned college interviews for our Y11 were cancelled and re-arranged twice, before eventually being cancelled for good. As a department, we pulled together. Many of the experienced teachers around me were beginning to share resources and plans they had made or had used previously with success. I felt pride in being part of profession that is so willing to share knowledge, wealth and resources.
When BoJo made the announcement, it felt like we all let out a collective sigh, at least now we knew what we were planning for. At the time it was “only” a 3-week closure before review. Reader, as I sit at my kitchen table writing this, we are approaching week 6. As I went into school on the Thursday, it was all hands-on deck, we knew what to do and how to do it. I can tell you that year 11 were at the front of our minds. It feels as if the end of their career in education (for those that don’t go on to further education) was cruelly ripped from under their feet and they have been left in a kind of limbo. There were many simple questions that we could not answer, the first and most prominent still is “What now?”
Reader, I share this experience with you as I, as well as many other ITTs in the UK, are in the same boat as the Year 11 cohort of 2019/2020. But I can assure you, was great certainty, that we are not concerned with our outcomes. As teachers, as that is what we are essentially, we are concerned for Year 11 and what they do now.
The way that I have experienced my ITT year is vastly different from yours, as I have said previously, it belongs to me. I am so proud to call 2019/2020 my training year. I have grown so much as a person and into the teacher I only dreamt I would become. A big part of that is being coached (right from our induction meeting on 12th July 2019) to look out for our own well-being and being shown how to do that. I have mentioned the experience we are currently going through as I feel it is important for everyone to look out for their mental health at weird times such as this as well as when things are back to normal, whatever that looks like for you and whenever that will be for us all.
If someone were to ask me, what well-being is, or what it looks like. I would tell them that it is something that is personal to you as an individual. But to generalise, it is all about awareness. Self-awareness; if you can learn about what makes you tick, your likes and dislikes you are on to a winner. But, if you can be reflective and really look at yourself, you will go far. I have learnt to reflect upon the affect that I have on those around me, how I can have different types of reactions from people according to how I approach them and the situation. Remember that we are around young people all day and they are at a stage in their lives where they are still working out their place in the world, and what they really think of the culture around them. It is up to us as an adult figure in their lives to present a well rounded individual.
What I have mentioned above, I will cover in later blog posts where I plan to cover each of the teacher standards. To come in a circle toward the end of this post, I want to give you some tips on looking out for your well-being during your ITT year.
- Take time – get to know what you really like doing (that isn’t school, or work focussed)
- Talk – to your partner, family, friends. Share what you are going through, vent your frustrations.
- Celebrate – Celebrate your successes, celebrate meeting deadlines! There will be many. Celebrate things that do not go so well!
- Reflect – teaching is a reflective profession and this, in itself, forces you to become self-aware, but remember those lightbulb moments where you have had a break through about yourself and hold on that that light bulb.