NASBTT Award: Hero Trainee

"We maintained a positive environment in school providing stability and reassurance for vulnerable families and for children anxious about their frontline relatives. Planning wasn’t always easy due to the complex mix of ages and stages but first and foremost was the children’s wellbeing."

I am both surprised and humbled to have been awarded the accolade of hero trainee.

What an unexpected journey this year has been

When I began this journey back in September 2019, I never could have imagined the impact teaching would have on my life. I had considered teaching for several years but never actually taken the plunge. Now was the time to follow my heart. The trouble is hearts and brains work very differently. Whilst my heart pulled me towards the creativeness and energy of education my brain said ‘What if?’ ‘What if you can’t do it?’ ‘What if you get it wrong?’ ‘What if you fail?’

By late October I was feeling so overwhelmed I came close to quitting. Thankfully supportive words from my incredible host school mentor, Headteacher and course leader Charlotte gave me the headspace to realise I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Not polished. Not perfect but a work in progress.

Flash forward to February when, during week four of my second school placement, the news of national school closures came. As much as I had built good relationships with my second school, my thoughts instantly turned to my host school and what I could do to support the staff and most of all the children.

While the nation reeled in the wake of national lockdown. Schools planned to open for the children of key workers. I volunteered as part of a staff rota and helped plan and resource home learning.

Initially my mentor (who was 6 months pregnant and advised to shield) worked from home but following Easter, began her maternity leave. After consultation with the school Governors I agreed to take over her role in setting home learning for our class, managing their wellbeing and offering feedback and support where needed, all whist completing my SCITT course requirements and home schooling my son Noah.

In June schools reopened for reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils. I had completed my training in a year 5/6 combined class so on the 1st of June I welcomed 14 anxious year 6 children back through our doors and comforted worried parents with a smile and reassuring words. I hadn’t appreciated until that moment the importance of relationships. We purposely hadn’t changed displays since the February closure so that the children walked back into familiar surroundings giving them security in the thought that ‘I’m still here and nothing has changed’. Of course, everything had changed. Daily routines, hand washing, strict social codes, limited contact and distancing, but together we built a half term around the creativeness that had drawn my heart to teaching. I chose to use core texts around which I created two-week projects that explored creative writing, drama, art and music. I taught maths but where possible outside using the natural environment as a resource. We accessed science through a forest school approach and I saw first-hand the importance of children being together. Learning is a collaboration that extends far beyond the classroom.

Through clever editing (and a fantastic school photographer) we were still able to create a leavers DVD, offer a live leavers assembly for parents to join via zoom, organise a socially distance water fight (where I seemed to get the wettest!) And most of all give the children happy memories of their time in year 6

I’ve come a long way in a year. Is it the year I had planned for? Probably not, but it’s taught me a lot about myself and what I’m capable of.

– Jade