Making an impact

As part of my course, we must undergo a series of placements to achieve our qualified teacher status (QTS). These placements vary in their requirements and expectations from the first year to the final year. My placement journey has been a varied one. There’s been confusion, fun, realisation and growth.

My first placement was really fun. It was an observational placement and I had mini tasks to complete. I got to roll up my sleeves and fully engage with kids, taking part in fun activities like painting and playing education-based games. The best part of it was building relationships with the children. It was really rewarding when the children would walk into school and were excited to share what they had been up to the day before. Children would drag me to the playground during playtime and lunchtime, they would want me to sit with them while they ate and tell silly jokes or just chat in general.

Union jack

The interaction in the classroom during my placement really reminded me why I want to be a teacher; to make an impact on children's lives.

My favourite memory from this placement was when we made the union jack flag with the year one children in preparation for OBON day (one Britain, one nation day). There were lots of paint spillages, handprints and messy shirts and we finally produced this masterpiece pictured below.

First-hand experience

It is important to note that as you progress from your first-year placement to your final year placement, the expectation of us to teach and get more involved in day-to-day tasks increases to teaching about 60-80% of the weekly teaching block. This experience gives you a real insight into the industry and job role. This also means there is a shift from observing, to planning lessons, sitting in meetings, and taking steps in the shoes of your future self. That does not, however, mean having fun and building relationships will stop, it is more about finding balance. The most difficult aspect for me was managing where to draw the line on professionalism with the children. You want them to know that although you are a friendly and warm person, you are ultimately their teacher and not their friend. One lesson I learnt during my placement is that it is important to draw boundaries in an attempt to still have authority over the children.

Opportunity to apply knowledge to real life situations

You get to see the difference between learning the theory and then putting the theory into practice. It has given me the opportunity to see first-hand the different schools teaching techniques and approaches to teaching. Placements are a really impactful learning opportunity. It is eye opening to see the different methods that different teachers use in order to put the same theory into practice. Having seen a range of different approaches, it will then help me to find a teaching style that suits me in my future career.

Placements allow you to apply the knowledge you've learnt during lectures, to a real life working environment.

Learning transferable skills

In addition to actually doing the job, placements also give you a chance to work on the other aspects the role you are looking to go in to that can be transferable across different industries. It allows you to work on qualities such as professionalism, time keeping, meeting deadlines, and wider responsibilities such as working with colleagues and building good working relationships. I found that all of my placements were useful in developing these skills and if it was not for these opportunities, I would not have been able to highlight areas for development.

Overall, I would say that a placement is an amazing learning opportunity to gain useful knowledge on your future job role and position. It allows you to envision yourself as a practicing professional and get a feel for the expectations, responsibilities, demands and joys of working in a certain profession.

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