Six situations all trainees should be exposed to

New teachers shouldn’t have to struggle when they encounter situations that are a normal part of the job. Here a some every trainee should practise

New teachers shouldn’t have to struggle when they encounter situations that are a normal part of the job. Here a some every trainee should practise

13 May 2024, 5:00

Exactly how a trainee teacher should be taught and what they ought to be exposed to during their training year is a continuously evolving picture. At present, for example, there are calls for all trainees to have a placement in a special school.

This week, new research from Ambition Institute shows scenario-based learning can be highly impactful in teacher training. This is out of the hands of schools and mentors, but there are a number of key situations which our trainee teachers are not exposed to regularly – and really ought to be. Here are a few that are well within the control of placement schools.

Break and lunch duties

When a trainee is ‘let loose’, one of the first things they will find themselves doing is a break and/or a lunch duty, completely solo. This can be quite daunting. Providing trainees with the opportunity to do some duties within their training year will reduce the stress of doing it alone when the time comes.

In fact, it may actually start to make them enjoyable. After all, they provide a wonderful opportunity to get to know students outside of the classroom and to meet students that you don’t otherwise teach. As a trainee, it is also a fantastic way to quickly ‘make yourself known’ – perfect when moving around different placement schools.

Deliver a briefing announcement

During their training year, it is unlikely that a trainee would have to deliver an announcement to 50-100 staff in a morning meeting. However, the likelihood of needing to do that will significantly increase in their first ‘proper’ year.

Whether it’s an update about a student in a tutor group, a department-specific announcement, a question or a club that they’re launching, it is something that a trainee will need to do. Tick it off during their training so that it doesn’t induce anxiety in future.

Covering the isolation room

Another shock to the system in the first solo year is needing to staff the isolation room, which a majority of schools have. This is typically a challenging experience, not least because students there typically present challenging behaviour – and need clear, strong rules.

Trainees should practice handling this, though clearly not alone. Can they cover a session with their mentor either leading the room or, if they’re confident, with their mentor as a fall-back a radio call away?

Parents’ evenings

What should a teacher say to parents? How much information should they give them? How do they run to time? We don’t expect people to learn by trial and error in other high-stress situations, so why would we expect trainees to learn how to do a parents’ evenings in the moment?

Some prior training on the key questions above would be ideal but at worst they should sit in on at least one parents’ evening while a trainee (and arguably one per placement, so they can see how they vary). To make the experience even more helpful, trainees should lead on at least one conversation with their mentor present.

Supporting school trips

School trips can be a huge amount of fun, but they also come with significant stresses: roads, members of the public, and the all-important headcount! Going out on a school trip with their mentor is a great experience for any trainee to have, to see how staff work together to keep students safe in what can be more relaxed situations with regards to rules.

Last-minute cover

Every now and again, we all have to cover a lesson at the last minute, which requires a lot of skill. You need to keep your school’s core lesson components in place, keep students busy, ensure they make progress and not stress that you’ve lost as a non-contact period. It’s quite the balancing act, and a good one for a trainee to have in their first year in the classroom.

These are just six scenarios, but there are more: holding a parental meeting, leading a fire drill line-up, producing GCSE grade predictions, marking exam papers, data entry. How many can you fit into your trainee’s placement? And how much will their early careers benefit from these experiences?

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One comment

  1. Mrs Kate Aspin

    Schools week could you make it clear what phase of schooling your articles are aimed at. These generic style labels annoy as this article for example is very secondary focused, and includes stuff that’s irrelevant to primary. Maybe ask a HE provider to talk about what’s relevant to BA and OGCE primary…it always seems like your content comes from one direction. Do better.