Have I forgotten how to teach?!


Last year was quite a tumultuous year for me. Having moved up to the Midlands from the South, I started my role at a new school with real optimism in September. However, for a number of reasons this proved to not be the school for me, and I found myself starting afresh in a new place of work after the Easter break. Starting a new school two-thirds of the way into the year had some real benefits. I was able to settle in and get to know my colleagues, whilst making my face recognisable with students around the school. I was able to spend lots of time doing some intervention work with very low-end Key Stage 3 students, and also getting to grips with all of the admin side that department leadership roles bring with them – I’ve made more progress with Excel in 3 months than at any other point in my life!

However, as we reach the end of August, and I begrudgingly have to accept the “Back to School” aisles whose appearance in late July I cursed, I find myself with a real concern; Have I forgotten how to teach?!

My previous school, without going into too much detail, had decided to follow teaching and learning policies which ironically enough made the teaching and learning within the classroom nigh-on impossible. The careful planning of how to scaffold and structure a topic for a group of students that I had worked so hard on previously was not really possible, and I felt reduced to little more than someone who had to hand out 5 different versions of a worksheet each lesson. This was pretty much the biggest motivating factor behind my decision to leave.

Having spent a term in my new school, there is absolutely no doubt that I have made the right decision. I’m working with a superb group of people, in a teaching environment that I feel I am able to really develop my craft. What I have not had over the last few months however, are any of my own classes. Whilst in some respects this has been an absolute dream (especially in giving me a chance to really develop my understanding of the school and the department), I really have missed being in front of a class, building the relationships with students and seeing the improvement in their Mathematics over time.

This does mean that a large part of me cannot wait to meet my new classes and to hit the ground running with them, but having spent what feels like such a long period out of action, I am filled with trepidation as to whether it will be easy to slip back into – is it like riding a bike? Will I jump onto the saddle, start pedalling, and subconsciously be able to just ‘do it’ without having to think too much about it? Or will I find myself back in my PGCE year, wobbling around with no real control over the handlebars, slamming on my front brake only and flying over the handlebars occasionally?!

Of course the worries are there every year. To be honest they are sort of there after each 2-week break between terms! But my concern is exacerbated this year by quite how long it is since I planned a sequence of lessons, and delivered them to 30 students. I suppose the only way to find out is to get on with it next week and see what happens! To take the bike analogy cliche a little further, I imagine I will get on, wobble about a bit, before settling into a pedalling rhythm and being fine.


For those of you who have taken a longer period out of teaching, I’d be really interested to know how long it took before you felt really  comfortable and back in the groove of teaching? Or does it feel like you’re back the moment you stand up and get the attention of that first class?


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