Everything that I have learnt, studied for and dreamt about for the last four years has amounted to my final 10 weeks of professional placement. But it isn’t as daunting as it may sound! There is so much to learn, so many little people to meet and it is so rewarding. Here are my discoveries to encourage my fellow teachers-in-training!
The night before my first day, I had all my meals for the week prepared, my clothes laid out and my folder ready to go. Regardless of my preparation, I still burnt-out. During the first week I had constant migraines, severe dehydration and swelling in the throat.
I discovered that the emotional pressure I was putting on myself to succeed was taking a toll on my body. I have learnt that there is a healthy amount of pressure and expectation that we can put on ourselves to succeed – without reaching burnout. We often forget that our supervisors want us to succeed, so being prepared each day is half the job done!
You are in control of your day
Teaching is not and never will be a 9 till 3 job, but this is why I love it. See the children grow and have fun makes it all worth it. However, professional experience requires late nights of preparation, early morning starts and weekends spent planning, all on voluntary terms.
I have learnt that I am in control of how I approach each day and how I choose to feel. A confident and positive mindset can change the day completely. There will always be people, situations and tasks that challenge us, but we have to remind ourselves why we are here in the first place and I am here because my passion is to contribute to the education of young people.
During my first week, I found myself doubting my abilities and holding back, but after I planned and implemented a musical group time, I realised that I just had to trust myself. Using my strengths in music gave me confidence and set me up for the rest of my prac. Trust that you are the one who has studied, practiced and worked to get to where you are and have confidence, because you do know what to do!
Confirm your career choice
Use prac to help you discover whether it is the right career for you. Throughout my professional experience over the last four years, I have always looked around the classroom, playground and staffroom and thought, “This is for me. This is what I want to do.” Take this opportunity to build relationships with children, learn from the staff and be inspired by the rewarding career that you’ve chosen.
This is your time to shine
Prac is a chance to show off what you have learnt and what you can do. Holding back your skills and gifts won’t benefit your final report at the end. I often worry and teachers might think I’m showing off, but I’ve come to learn that teachers and supervisors think the exact opposite. My purpose on my final prac is to show off what I can do, prove myself and put what I have learnt over the last four years into practice.
If you are starting professional experience, expect to learn a lot more than what you will learn within a classroom. The stories, advice, people and small miracles will make every challenge worth it. Prac will be overwhelming at times, but it is these discoveries that make the experience real and valuable.