18 February 2019
Philip Friend has been mentoring ITTs and NQTs in a GSA school for 10 years. He is currently a teacher of Mathematics and Food & Nutrition at St Catherine’s School, Bramley
Guiding trainee teachers is highly rewarding. I’ve been mentoring Initial Teacher Trainees (ITTs) and Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) as part of my role in a Girls’ Schools Association school for 10 years and been proud to see many of them move on to roles of responsibility, such as being Heads of Department or members of Senior Management. There are so many opportunities in schools – both GSA and otherwise – for career development.
Training “on the job”, with the support of mentors and other colleagues, is, I believe, the best way for a trainee to make the most effective progress. The ITT has a real sense of belonging, both to a department and to the school community. Having their own classes from the start is an important aspect, not least for building the rapport between teacher and pupils; pupils identify the ITT as their teacher, rather than feeling their teacher is only there for a short space of time before moving on, giving an important sense of constancy.
A crucial element of training as part of the ITT programme in GSA schools includes the timetabled use of time for an ITT to carry out their training, so that it is an integral part of their week, rather than an “add on” to their teaching commitments. Using this time for key aspects of training such as meetings with mentors, for carrying out lesson observations of colleagues or for evaluating the evidence they are collecting, allows to the process to be most effective. This time is invaluable for discussions into implementing ideas for development and investigating strategies to implement in lessons. It all adds up to a rich experience for the ITT as, with each lesson they teach, they are able to put into practice what they are learning.
There is a moment during every ITT’s training when they see everything starting to come together: routines are established so that marking and planning is easier; lesson planning, and indeed planning for a longer sequence of lessons, becomes more natural; making snap judgements during the flow of a lesson, perhaps to change direction when it is needed, come more readily….
I love the point in an ITT’s training when they see the progress they have made and can step into the classroom with the confidence to own their classroom fully: the many threads of theory come together beautifully as they put these into practice, drawing upon a wealth of strategies they have built up during the training.
I always find it an honour to share with ITTs their many moments of elation, such as when they witness a student cracking a particularly tricky concept that was previously eluding them, or when an ITT receives that first email from a student or parent thanking them for the positive impact they have made.
Training teachers reminds me just how exciting it is to learn and how it is still important to learn as a teacher – no matter how long you have been teaching. I always love picking up tricks from my trainees – not least when it comes to the effective use of technology in the classroom! Working with trainees has helped me evaluate my own teaching – as a teacher, the desire to evaluate your own practice is always important.