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Yes, you are ready!

This has been one of the strangest and hardest years of teaching for most, but what if you are still training?

Claire Norcott has found that quite a few of her students are nervous but she’s convinced they’re ready.

claire N you can do it

Over recent months I’ve heard and seen the signs of self-doubt. Students questioning themselves and wondering if they are ready for the world of work. My initial response is that I’m not sure anybody ever feels ready to leave behind their student life and take that leap into the working world; it’s pretty terrifying. However, this year I’m seeing more than the usual anxieties of taking that next step, hearing that our students are questioning themselves due to missing time in the physical classroom this last year. 

So, to students looking to become Early Career Teachers; you are ready. Over the course of the pandemic, you have learnt and developed a wide variety of skills. Some of you may have completed a virtual placement where you could have gained a deeper understanding of how schools operate than if you were physically in the school. You may have had the opportunity to meet with Governors, so you know the importance of their role along with the chance to meet and question a variety of passionate subject leads. This will have contributed to your ever-growing subject knowledge and might have triggered a love of learning amongst you in a variety of subjects. A key aspect of a virtual placement involves communication and collaborative working. You will have become more confident and proficient at working effectively as part of a team and contributing to meetings in an online environment, a skill that can be transferred to in-person meetings.

In school, you have been adaptable and have worked tirelessly to ensure your pupils received the best possible education whilst at home. Plans may have been stopped and new ones drawn up at short notice showing an ability to respond quickly and efficiently to ever changing situations; a feature of the education profession. Technology has been utilised to create engaging and interactive lessons, some of which you hadn’t used before, yet you quickly and effectively developed your knowledge to ensure you knew how to operate a range of online apps and tools suitable for various purposes. Some of you even shared your knowledge with other staff members, taking a lead in developing new and exciting approaches that will remain in schools long after you leave them. Many of the online approaches you are now confident in can be adapted for use in the classroom; what aspects of virtual teaching will you look to maintain moving forwards?

You have had to form effective relationships with pupils without meeting them in person. This is not an easy task. I’ve seen how you have created letters and videos so your classes and parents know a little more about you, meaning children feel happy to learn. You have been friendly and welcoming whilst maintaining professionalism in an online environment.

You have communicated with parents in a way you have never needed to before. Some of you might have had more interaction this year than on previous placements. You know the importance of engaging parents and have explored a range of ways of doing so as you know that one way won’t suit all. These strategies can be adapted or continued as we move back to our pupils being in school.

When our children returned to classrooms, you worked hard to make sure they felt safe and happy. For some of you, you met the pupils in your class in person, weeks after you had been teaching them online. You recognise that children may need time to settle back into routines and that their social and emotional needs must be met and supported and are exploring ways of providing a safe, secure and nurturing environment for them 
The skills you have learned and developed, at a rapid pace, show that you can prioritise tasks, manage your workload, work and communicate with others effectively and plan, teach and assess work. You may have done this working in different ways or with smaller groups but you have still achieved this.

It isn’t possible to know everything about the National Curriculum or the teaching and learning process. You will constantly be learning and growing as a professional. What you do all have is enthusiasm, dedication and a desire to continue to learn. You inspire me when I talk about your achievements with you. Take more time and gain more experience if you wish to, but also believe in yourselves and recognise what you have to offer.  You are ready!

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The author

Claire has been a Senior Lecturer in Primary Education for over 9 years, teaching on and developing various modules, mainly working on ITE programmes. She also holds the roles of Primary ECT lead, Primary Employability lead and Primary PGCE cohort co-ordinator. Prior to working in HE, Claire spent 11 years working in Primary Schools during which time she was a PE subject leader, a Maths subject leader and Healthy Schoold Co-ordinator. She then moved to become a Lead Behaviour Professional and member of SLT, working alongside a cluster of schools to ensure a consistent approach to behaviour management across her school. Part of this role was line managing a pastoral team of 5 Learning Mentors. Claire loves working with the students in her current role and seeing the progress they make as they move from student teacher to having their own class.

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