Biomedical sciences student Ewan Jones took part in our two-week internship, the Insight Programme, to find out more about Teach First and our Leadership Development Programme.
In the first week of Insight, students take part in a series of training workshops and learn about educational inequality. Week two sees them step into one of our partner schools to put their newfound teaching skills into practice.
Here, Ewan talks through some typical days on our Insight Programme...
Morning: Every day I wake up at 7am, eat breakfast, and dress in my suit and tie (I feel very business-like in London) before leaving my accommodation at 8.15am. Along with all the other commuters, I take the bus or Tube, and reach the venue where the first part of the Insight Programme is taking place.
In the morning, we take part in a number of interactive workshops and teaching simulations to prepare us for our teaching experience in week two. I thought the first week of Insight would be very intense and a bit dull but I was pleasantly surprised at how engaging the activities were. They made me think about my teachers at school and what made them good or bad – it actually inspired me to get in touch with an old teacher and let her know that she made my experience really great.
Lunchtime: I take lunch with my newly-made friends, it’s a great laugh. Once I had met everyone at the beginning of the week, my nerves melted away, and it was like being at university for the first time again.
Afternoon: More workshops and activities for which coffee is needed. A Teach First university recruiter brings chocolate for us - a great motivator!
I’m shocked to learn about educational inequality when the visiting ambassadors (those who have completed Teach First’s two-year Leadership Development Programme) tell us about their experiences of teaching and the children for who they made a real difference.
Evening: We finish at 5pm, and once I’m home, eat. I try and complete some university work (I’m studying at Sheffield), and think about the things we covered at Insight during the day. I feel very tired; I’m not used to such a busy day! Still, I’m looking forward to going out and socialising with other participants. Sleep at 11pm.
Morning: Wake up around 7am and get showered/dressed. Still wearing my suit, although this time I make sure to dress well to set an example for the students at the school I’m placed in – then I can’t be accused of being a hypocrite! I leave the hotel Teach First have arranged for me and travel to the school around 7:50am to get to there for 8:00am.
I was really nervous about meeting all my colleagues and being in front of students on my first day – such a weird feeling being called ‘Sir’! My biggest challenge throughout the second week was definitely being an authority figure. It took a while to find my style. I discovered that I want to be a relaxed teacher but to make it clear from the beginning what I expect from them so that we can all enjoy the lessons.
At 8:30am pupils spend time with their tutor; this is normally when many open up about their home lives. One student mentioned that he’d lost his planner but not sure when he could buy a new one because he didn’t know when his dad was going to get paid.
Lunchtime: A short walk to the local fish and chip shop – battered sausage and chips for £1! Then to the staff room to chat with my ‘colleagues’. We talked a lot about their best and worst experiences in the classroom and how they still loved it no matter how hard it got. I also learnt that teaching isn’t all about doing it on your own, teachers work together and share resources, which helps when your lessons don’t always go to plan.
Afternoon: Most lessons are spent observing and watching how the teacher works. I also get the opportunity to deliver a learning activity in biology to a group of A-level pupils. At first I was very nervous about teaching and worried I might be asked a question I didn’t know the answer to. I prepared for the activity by creating an interactive ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ style quiz, and after the first few minutes I felt much more relaxed and even made them laugh a few times.
I also speak to some sixth form pupils and answer questions about going to university. They come away feeling much more positive about making an application, which gives me a real sense of satisfaction.
School finishes at 3pm, but I stay longer to finish planning lessons and get to know the other teachers. On the first day, one of them asked how we were getting to school and when they found out we were taxiing, they immediately found us a lift from another member of staff – very friendly.
Evening: Back at the hotel, it’s time to do some uni work, plan lessons and reflect on the current day. Dinner at the local pub (or McDonalds) where I chat to the other participants and we share our experiences and opinions.
These two weeks have definitely changed my opinion of why more great science, maths and computing teachers are needed. I’ve realised what a difference they make to pupils’ lives, especially when many pupils do not have stable home lives. It’s really inspired me to get more involved.