I have the great privilege of seeing hundreds of teacher trainees develop their skills every year and am lucky enough to support some of them on placements as a university mentor.
I would like to celebrate the strength of our trainees with an example! This is just one example of many, but it is a story I share often as it demonstrates the hugely important work that school partnerships and trainees do in our communities.
One of my students (let’s call her Daisy) was on placement in her local area – an east coast community with high levels of economic poverty. Each time I visited Daisy and her school mentor, I was bowled over by her sense of purpose, in terms of raising the aspirations of the children she worked with and her immense pride at her own journey through local schools, college and university, which she talked to children about frequently. She was (and is) so incredibly proud of her Level 7 Masters credits from the PGCE, and of the education theory she has engaged with during her studies, and how she can apply this to her role in school. She is a wonderful example of someone from the community who has done fantastic things, and is using her skills, passion and experiences to raise aspirations and provide excellent opportunities for the children she works with.
The first time I observed Daisy, she was rocking out an all-singing, all-dancing lesson plan on castles – using drama techniques to bring to life the story the children were about to read in English. However, a few minutes in, it became apparent that a lot of the children in the class had no real-life experiences of castles and didn’t understand. Daisy picked up on this quickly, and applying everything she had learnt at university and in school, she abandoned her fab lesson plan and went back to basics – finding 360 degree tours of castles on the internet, sharing her own experiences of going to castles, and already planning how she could raise some funds to take the children on a visit. She did not hesitate in putting the children first.
For all the Daisy’s out there, ITE provides opportunities to spread your wings, but also to change the life-chances for the people you grew up with through understanding their unique challenges. For the schools we work with, getting a Daisy on placement is absolute gold-dust – needless to say, our coastal school partners offered Daisy a job and she continues to make a world of difference there.
Post-pandemic, ITE partnerships are best placed to understand the development of future teachers, with new challenges, new constraints – because we are going through it, too!