To begin with I’ll introduce another Teach First piece of vocabulary:
School Centred Learning
Participants undertake two three-day placements to in different schools. These days, which have a literacy or numeracy focus, are used for specialist observations and teaching. Participants also must plan and deliver an Oral and Mental Starter and a Numeracy lesson on their second and third placement days respectively.
My first School Centred Learning Day started nice and early at 6:45 a.m. (are you beginning to sense a theme here). On arrival we were greeted by a very friendly Maths Leader who took us to a room that we could use as a base for the duration of our placement. From the outset I was struck my her enthusiasm and energy for Maths. She gave us a great introduction into what we should be looking out for during our time in school and immediately made everyone feel at ease.
Next we were taken to different classes for our morning observations. Each participant will be spending time in each learning phase represented in the school: EYFS, KS1 and KS2. The first classroom that I visited was part of EYFS. I was amazed at the level of structure that the teacher had managed to create with such a young group of children. Lessons were arranged around clear topics and pupils took part in a range of activities, which allowed them to experience working as part of a class, small group, with teacher or TA support and independently. Behaviour was impeccable throughout the morning, probably due to the teacher’s clear instructions for learning which ensured fluid transitions between activities. I was also impressed by the teacher’s excellent use of cross-curricular links, which allowed children to explore numeracy topics through art and physical action.
By next visit was to a KS2 classroom, where children were engaged in some complex problem solving. Again I was struck by the exemplary behaviour demonstrated through lessons and each child’s clear love of learning. I asked the teacher how she achieved such a calm and focused classroom environment and she explained that she believed in a non-streamed approach. Instead children were encouraged to take ownership of their learning by choosing a level of work that they felt comfortable with. The teacher also tried hard to make sure that every minute of time in her lessons was accounted for- this meant the teaching kept momentum and that the activities very varied and challenging enough to hold all pupils’ attention.
Finally, it was time for our afternoon workshop on planning a Numeracy Oral and Mental Starters. The subject leader gave us some good examples of best practice and then helped each of us to plan our own activities. I am, definitely, nervous about my first teaching session tomorrow but thanks to some amazing leadership I feel really prepared.