Being such a short experience, the six/seven weeks will fly past very quickly, so, to maximise the potential for a successful practice I offer the following organisational insights from supervising previous experiences.
The first thing is to secure the personal professional standards as per this diagram.
From the beginning, getting to know the children from talking to them, generally and about the work in their books helps to establish appropriate expectations. This will be added to with discussion of tracking documents and knowing where the teacher would like the children to be by the end of the period. Find out the themes and topics being covered and those specific areas where you will take a lead role. A good mentor ensures that the trainee has received as much detailed information as possible that will help them in their early decision making.
Two key messages to any trainee; know the children as well as possible and know your stuff…
The trainee, guided by their mentor, needs to create a personal development plan for the weeks of the experience. They need to put into the plan any specific areas that they need to observe, or experience, within this key stage, whether structural like planning or behaviour management, discussions with specific staff, to address any gaps in, or to broaden your understanding of different areas. Plan in any assignments that have to be completed within this timescale, particularly if they depend on interactions with children or staff. Professional time should be used effectively and trainees need to remember that colleagues fit conversations around their other jobs.
The practical teacher standards will need to be developed within the experience.
4; Planning. This will have school specific elements. Hopefully, trainees will be able to get the plans for the half term, from which weekly plans will be developed, by the trainee, so that daily and single lesson plans can fit into a weekly dynamic, allowing reflection, during the week, of the need to adapt and also to evaluate the progress made during the week.
2; The loop is closed with evaluation of outcomes and greater understanding of the children, as a group, but also as individuals. The repetitive cycle enables a refining of understanding and of approaches.
Seeking to put this together into a coherent plan that allows for all these elements might be supported with the following model.
Going into their second experience, trainees will have already demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, as team players and future team leaders. They have been able to make good relationships with their class teachers and support staff, as well as with the children. They tend to be allocated to classrooms that are well ordered and organised, with good, positive behaviour management strategies enabling the teacher to teach and learning to occur.
The trainees themselves, by this stage, are generally well ordered and organised. They plan effectively and make sure that they have high quality resources available to enhance their lessons. The IWB is usually used to good effect and there is evidence of other technology being used to enhance learning, eg visualisers, cameras and iPads.
They all work hard to make sure that they have appropriate subject knowledge and appropriate resources for each lesson, either through discussion with colleague professionals or personal research. This can be discrete knowledge and would benefit from broader understanding of how the discrete fits into the holistic model of learning for the children, thus allowing some deeper interrogation of in-lesson outcomes.
The following diagram seeks to describe the dynamics being explored from visits during second experiences. The trainees are at a transition point, where they are moving from absorbing structural knowledge, linked with discrete subject knowledge, to being able to embed these as procedural and interactive understandings within an active classroom environment; ie timely decision making.
In the second experience, standards 8 professionalism, 7 behaviour management, 1 expectations, 4 planning (order and organisation) and 3 subject knowledge, are generally secure, across all the trainees, as they are personal attributes that are enhanced with experience and application of personal capabilities.
There is some variation in standard 7, within classes where specific behaviour issues required individualised responses, which the class teachers acknowledged were significant.
Although teaching standards 2, 5 and 6 can therefore be argued as less secure, it is perhaps important to reflect why this is the case, as they appear across all types of trainee going in a second experience. It was interesting to discuss this issue with mentors during a training session and to ask them to consider where they would feel less secure if they were parachuted into a different school and key stage.
With standard 2 being progress and outcomes, the trainees are at a disadvantage in going into their second school, as they just don’t know the children in that class. Neither will they have a detailed understanding of children of that age group, so may not have mental “baselines” from which to extract appropriate learning expectations.
Standards 6&5; Learning to develop tasks for a new age range is challenging in itself, to match and challenge appropriately over time. In the absence of good subject knowledge that embeds an understanding of how the subject develops, lessons can become activities that may or may not lead to secure learning and, in addition, appropriate interventions may be missed. The ability to think on their feet and adjust a task demand to evident needs of the learners might be compromised. Assessment can be further undermined, as each school is seeking to develop their own internal systems in the absence of national descriptors. The meeting with mentors showed that there were seven systems within nine mentors, including four variations of the local County system.
The early meeting with the teacher mentors leading the second experience enabled discussion of issues that arose in earlier cohorts, seeking to pre-empt some of the issues that might simply be a constituent part of the second experience.
As a result, these areas were a focus for mentor-trainee discussion.
Trainees are charged with monitoring progress and interventions over their experience. They have to unpick the detail of learning from interactions and outcomes to understand ideas behind progress. Some of this is captured in personal case studies.
Trainee reflection time. With the inevitable pressures of routes such as School Direct, built in (collaborative peer) reflection/ weekly review time would seem a necessary element to consider, when reviewing the holistic experience. Time to sit, to think and to have professional development discussions needs to be built into all school experiences. The mentor role is key to this.
In Primary terms, the breadth of teaching standard 2, as progress and outcomes, covering year 1 to year 6, is one that would repay some developmental thought, to create exemplar material that demonstrates the development from EYFS (year 1) to year 6, within the current curriculum, especially in English and Maths. This reference material would support developing judgement. If it was extended with examples from other curriculum areas, this could raise appropriate expectations.
To exemplify TS2 further, regular moderation activities between the trainee and the class teacher could result in a personal reflective portfolio unpicking progress in different subjects, but also introduce the trainees to the need for regular evaluation to inform teaching practice.
In the main, trainees will be on track to achieve at a good or better level at the end of their training year. If they’re not, they will be subject to detailed concerns having been raised.
All trainees would benefit from focused reflection time looking at the 24652 dynamic, working to fine tune their approaches, developing personalisation to evident needs, including SEND. This is a clear action on the mentors during weekly review meetings.
When considering needs in returning to their substantive experience: -
Get to know the progress made by the children in their absence, then…
· to develop (with support) their own medium term plans,
· to unpick the detail of learning from outline intention through their own actions,
· understanding subject development over time,
· creating challenging tasks appropriate to the children’s needs,
· interacting with learning giving appropriate supportive feedback and guidance,
· making rational decisions based on outcome,
· interacting with anomalies
· and evaluating outcomes.
In other words, refining, or recalibrating themselves as whole class teachers, taking ever greater responsibility for progress, preparing to consider the needs of different classes in September.