6 top tips for surviving placement

So, as my life is currently taken over by placement, here are 6 tips to keep in mind that will help your survive.

  1. Be willing to ask for advice.
    1. My behaviour management was one of my weakest areas last year on placement, partly because I refused to ask for advice. I walked into that placement, feeling confident that I knew what to do, but in all honesty, I didn’t have a clue. The worst part about it is that I thought asking for advice was a weakness. My mentor knew those kids better than I did! There was no shame in admitting I still had a lot left to learn.
  2. Be open to feedback.
    1. I have friends that hate receiving feedback from their mentors, but like I said before, we still have so much left to learn, and it really is in your best interests to listen to it – especially if they’re grading you!
  3. If there’s more than one EHU student on placement, support each other.
    1. A lot of trainees I know spend their first placement in particular, acting as if it’s a competition, but having that support and friendly face there can really combat your nerves and make you feel better when you’re having those bad days.
  4. Make sure you have at least one day off.
    1. Everyone needs some downtime and if you’re completely overwhelmed and stressed out, that means you’re not going to be efficient. Take some breaths, put on a movie, eat some ice cream or go for a walk and just chill.
  5. Talk to your friends / colleagues.
    1.  There are days when I really want to throw in the towel, because my lesson hasn’t gone as I’d planned, or someone was particularly disruptive, or I was just feeling generally overwhelmed. Firstly, I probably should’ve kept in mind that I was still training, and everyone makes mistakes when they’re training. However, without my course friends, I’d potentially continued to feel that way, but a gentle reminder that everyone has bad days can really ease the situation and help you to think with a clearer mind.
  6. Remember the biscuits for the staff room / your co-workers.

It’s worth it in the end

I won’t lie to you… second year has been incredibly tough for me, for a whole range of reasons. Now, it’s a Sunday evening and I’ve just finished my lesson planning for the following week; I’m busier on placement than I am in the entirety of the rest of my degree, yet it’s the best kind of busy. And being on placement reminds me why I’m here in the first place.

When a child asks you if you’ll be their class teacher forever; or you see another child, who doesn’t really respond much in lessons, get excited by a topic you’re teaching… the overwhelming sense of pride and love for this career is enough to put you through the stress of assignments ten times over. It’s enough that you don’t care that you’re up late planning, because if you get that one child to smile at something, to connect with something that you teach next week, it will have all been worth it.

My best kind of advice for all of you, is to find something that gives you a similar feeling. That may not be teaching; that may be seeing people respond positively to some media you’ve created, or at the very least to have felt like they related. It may be seeing kids get better and go home from hospital with their parents. It might be doing a particularly satisfying bit of maths or coming across a piece of research that will one day change the future.

In an entirely different context, Taylor Swift said, ‘If you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it.’ Of course, this didn’t mean what I’m twisting it to mean when she originally said it, but I do think it can be applied here. If you love something so much, I 100% think you should study it, or make it your hobby, or whatever it is you decide to, because life is too short not to do things that YOU want to do.

And I know, as a result of my placement, that this is something I 100% love. Some of you may not know what it is you love, but that just means you get to spend more time trying new things to figure it out.

Teaching Placements

I am both so excited and so nervous for my second placement. By the time I start in April, I will have been out of the classroom for over a year and so I have increasingly mixed feelings about being back in one. Nonetheless, I had an absolutely fabulous placement last year, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

Edge Hill have a massive variety of placement schools scattered across the country, which is one of the reasons that I chose the university in the first place. I didn’t want to be confined to one area and getting to experience lots of different places was one of the most exciting things I could think of. This year, I have friends travelling to Luton, Wales and the Isle of Man and they’re all incredibly excited to go on what we call remote, or regional placements.

 So, what did I do during Professional Practice Phase 1A?

I learned more on practice than I did throughout the rest of the year; I spent time consolidating the theory I had learned at university, and had my eyes opened to things I had never even considered before. I got to teach a lovely Year 6 class in Telford and it broke my heart to leave at the beginning of February last year. I had created such strong relationships and made such a positive impact on these children during the time I was there, and they taught me just as much as I taught them, if not more.

During practice, there are a variety of tasks you have to complete for when you come back to university. Some things are necessary for when you’re actually teaching, such as reading the Behaviour Management Policy, finding out who the Safeguarding Lead, etc, whilst other tasks are to help you to reflect later in the year. One of these included finding out how the school was implementing the computing curriculum, for example. When I was writing my assignment about why the curriculum had changed, having that knowledge really helped me.

Of course, I spent my time on practice teaching. There is no bigger reward than hearing someone shout out ‘I’ve got it!’ with glee. There is nothing better than the ‘Thanks Miss!’ comments written at the end of a lesson, complete with a smiley face. My favourite lessons were the ones where we had really open discussions and I was taken aback by the nature of their empathy and understanding of others. Despite the early mornings and the long days and the stress, it was these moments that I lived for.

So yes, I am incredibly nervous to start my next placement, but it is 100% my favourite part of the year, and the reason I am here.