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Learning on the job

Miss J shares what she has learnt from having her own Primary 1 class, and her own classroom.

Primary Teacher

Whilst studying last year my tutor would constantly remind us that a huge amount of our learning would happen on placement. She was totally right; while the theory, tips and advice we gained from lectures were great, and there is no way I would be here without this training, the practical side of things really is learned in the classroom.

Having my own class is brilliant. I still absolutely love it and cannot believe that the children believe everything I say, and do (almost) everything I ask them to do. However, when on placement I didn’t realise the huge amount of behind-the-scenes organisation that goes into having a class and a classroom of your own.

The importance of planning

Planning is far more useful than I ever imagined. This may sound ridiculous but during my PGDE year I found planning paperwork a real chore. I knew what I would be teaching and didn’t really enjoy the prospect of writing it all down in minute detail. However, this year I have realised that when pulled out for random meetings/emergencies, or when having to change timetables around, detailed plans are an absolute must. They are also great for returning to school after the Christmas holidays, when your brain is still half asleep.

Making good use of resources

Sharing resources with other teachers is an excellent way of building up a bank of your own resources. The more resources I offered out initially, the more I was offered in return. I was very lucky in that all the infant staff were happy to share resources, so I have gained a range of really interesting worksheets, activities and ideas that I will be able to take with me when I finish my NQT year.

Keeping track of where all my resources are is so important and a task in itself. I find I need to write down who has what from my classroom as otherwise I waste time looking for something which may be in another classroom (I still can’t find my book ‘The Dinosaur who Pooped Christmas’!).

Giving pupils roles within the classroom not only allows the children to learn how to be responsible but also cuts down on my admin time. I have monitors who collect and return my register/daily fruit/lunch menu, and others tasked with keeping the line quiet and counting all the homework folders; all of this means I have more time during registration to get on with other tasks.

Helpful tips

Finally, and maybe most importantly, I have picked up practical tips from having my own Primary 1 class. These include keeping a large supply of tissues at hand all the time (snotty noses), having a sick bowl within easy reach (winter bugs are the worst), having a supply of wet wipes, which can be used for anything from sticky hands to cleaning whiteboards, and becoming friendly with the janitor (a must for various clean-up operations)!

Primary 1 children simply cannot keep a classroom tidy on their own. No matter how much responsibility they have, a Primary 1’s version of tidying is rather different from my own (though maybe I have a touch of OCD!).

Well, Christmas is over and my classroom is (supposed to be) back to normal. I cannot quite believe I have made it this far. The beginning of the school year has flown by and it is ridiculous how much I have learned.

Read Miss J's other blog posts:

My first week in Primary 1

Don't smile until Christmas