Reflections of the last year back as an English Teacher

In January 2015, I took a big leap of faith and left the job I loved as an AST in English and moved to a different school without my role. Why? Many reasons, some personal, some not but ultimately after 7 years in the same school working my way from NQT to head of Media Studies to Advanced Skills Teacher I had become lost and frustrated in the politics and felt a fresh start would give me a chance to refresh my love of teaching and my passion for research based practice. 

There doesn’t exist AST officially any more but I also found the lead practitioner role didn’t exist at all in my new school which was disappointing. Teaching and learning are the foundations of schools and therefore I assumed all schools placed high emphasis in leaders of learning, curriculum, research… 

Never mind, I was disappointed but not jaded. I took my SLE qualification ready to help others when called on and took to work supporting and getting stuck in with the English department. 

After, what will be 18 months at my current school, I am going back to the job I love as Lead Practitioner of English in a different school. Yet I wanted to share, from my own recollections mostly, but also to help other teachers who are interested in developing their own practice further. 

I think the most frustrating thing for me going back to an English teacher was the sudden loss of input I was allowed for my students. Being able to help my colleagues and delivery training session that would help with English teacher’s busy schedules was one of the best parts of my job; I was able to use research and educationalist to help staff and students create a curriculum that was demanding and creative. How was I going to find my passion for the job without this?

Fortunately, there are, as you know, many enthusiastic English teachers out there who want to do right by their students and have just as much passion for teaching and learning as me, phew! 

Therefore it was fantastic to work with the head of English on the new curriculum for KS3 to begin the challenge of preparing students for the new GCSE whilst maintaining the innovation. 

I am particularly proud of the work I did with the Literacy coordinator in mapping out a new 7 – 11 criteria map, incorporating the GCSE grades, skills and new grammar focus. I am even more proud that this was taken to an SLT meeting as an example of ways to develop a grading system that was continual. 

Linked to both of these I created a progress booklet for year 7 and 8 so students could map each assessment they did. This booklet is kept for two years and students can see how they are progressing. I also included a MAD time page for each assessment too, aiding students in their reflection and self editing skills. It has been a fantastic tool to use a parents’evenings too; students can’t argue with their own work!

Working with our lovely librarian I’ve been able to put together a reading challenge scheme (with badges) that has helped motivate and officialise reading lessons – students know that we care about their reading, it now has purpose and direction. 

I’ve also ran training sessions and shared resources on growth mindset and meta cognitive strategies with various staff along the way.  (Just to keep my hand in with the teaching and learning side!)

I think in writing this I am helping myself to see that the leap of faith wasn’t all bad. I hope that I’ve managed to help the students I’ve taught this year , just as I hope that some of the strategies that we have began will be continued and improved, adapted and developed in my absence. I recognise some of this is vanity, we all want to be recognised – teachers work hard enough without praise on a daily basis. BUt I want all teachers to feel that you should and do have a voice and if you have read something , a piece of research or an idea tried else where, don’t feel afraid to share it. Try things out for yourself – be your own leader in your CPD. 

As schools tighten their belts even more with the reduction of their budgets (this year has cost me personally £500 on resources!) it’s important that each teacher places some focus on their own needs as a practitioner – find 10 minutes at the end of the day to read a few tweets or a blog; sit with a colleague and magpie and idea for tomorrow’s lesson, anything to keep your work self refreshed.

I feel a little lighter after this some what cathartic post. If you have any questions or what to share please feel free @teachertrying.

Published by krystaljem

The epitome of the cliche those who can't do... teach. More specifically English and Media... Oh one can dream can't they? My passion is creating: poetry, fiction, baking, clothes. I like to try my hand at anything. I love the escapism and have respect for anyone who can eliciate an emotion from me from their work! I hope that one day I can evoke that others.

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