Going into their second experience, trainees have already demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, as team players and future team leaders. They are 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, are 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, as a result of the second round of visits. 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.
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.
· 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 an 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.
· An 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 were charged with monitoring progress and interventions over their five weeks of experience. They had to unpick the detail of learning from interactions and outcomes to understand ideas behind progress.
Trainee reflection time. With the inevitable pressures of such a route, built in (collaborative peer) reflection/ weekly review time would seem a necessary element to consider, when reviewing the programme as a whole. These trainees don’t often have the luxury of non-timetabled time with peers, as a traditional undergrad or post-grad might have. Where two trainees are together in a school, they have this opportunity, which is much valued.
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.
To exemplify TS2 further, regular moderation activities between the trainee and the class teacher could result in a portfolio unpicking progress in different subjects, but also introduce the trainees to the need for regular evaluation to inform teaching practice.
In the main, the trainees are on track to achieve at a good or better level at the end of their training year. They would all benefit from considerable additional reflection time looking at the 2, 6, 5 dynamic, working to fine tune their approaches, including personalisation to evident needs. This will need to be an action on the mentors in their second half year experience.
Their specific need in returning to their substantive experience, is
· 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 for their own classes in September.