Blog: First time in the classroom
20 July 2012
Leaving the Teach First halls of residence at the ungodly hour of six am on a Monday morning, I started the trek to Croydon bleary eyed and full of anxiety – we were on our way to see the school we will be working in for the next two or more years, meet the staff that we will share our daily triumphs and tribulations with, and most importantly, meet the students we will be teaching.
After a lengthy, but pleasant journey to the verdant suburbs of Croydon, I finally arrived at the bus stop to realise I had no idea where to go from there. Panicked, I asked the first person I saw, who smiled warmly and gestured for me to follow her. Chatting on the path down to the school, I realised this was a future colleague, and little did I know her kind approach to helping a lost stranger was a sign of things to come.
My placement school is a local comprehensive that despite facing many challenges works closely with the community and fosters a warm and friendly atmosphere created by both staff and students. Whilst the school building, built on a landfill site in the 1950’s, leaves a lot to be desired, the welcoming atmosphere of the school more than makes up for this. Managing to get myself lost several times throughout the day, I found that every student I asked offered to take me to my destination. After observing a few lessons in my future department, I started to see how the school prides itself on building strong relationships with its students, in order to foster an environment that is not only pleasant for staff and students, but more conducive to creating an environment for learning. This is not to say I didn’t see some behaviour that made me shiver with fear – how am I going to stop one student from throwing a chair across the room, whilst trying to calm the other twenty nine – however, in these cases I was struck by how well all staff; teachers, senior management, pastoral care and administration staff knew all the pupils and could deal with each situation armed with a good understanding of what lead to the incident and the best way to deal with it for each student. So, after a long and tiring day, I am back at halls and brimming with excitement about joining the school.
Sarah Wills, 2012 Participant