Getting out of my classroom

My time as an NQT is coming to an end, and with it the extra afternoon off time table I get for my professional development. This time has been invaluable this year, sometimes just as a chance to sit back and reflect on my practice, sometimes to give me a bit more time to relieve the pressure of an intense year.

I have used it in many different ways, but one of the most vauable has been observing other lessons. One thing my previous experience in Early Years education and the PGCE gave me was a pretty good overview of the whole of the Primary age group. However, after just short of a year in the job I am rapidly seeing how easy it is to become institutionalized into a certain age range. This is one of the reasons why I cannot see myself ever working in a different setting to a Primary school, as I feel it is really important to keep in mind the longer term, and keep in touch with the learning that has gone before, and that which will come after, the cohort you are teaching. However, just getting involved with other age groups out of the context of the classroom is quite different to experiencing their curriculum based learning, and I have been fortunate to observe across the age range of my school on my NQT afternoons.

Over the past few weeks I have visited a couple of other local schools, and have found this a real eye opener. I can’t understate how easy it is to get into the mindset that your school’s way is the only way things are done, yet both of these visits have provided very clear, yet different, contrasts to what I see every day.

I have seen a vast range of practice in the lessons I have observed, both in my own school and others. Every observation challenges me, as it is so easy to be critical of what I am seeing, but each criticism also makes me recognise occasions when I may make similar decisions in my own teaching. I have observed a few teachers whose approach is fundamentally different to my own, yet who are undeniably very effective practitioners. Such experiences really make me question my motives and my practices, and pick up tips and ideas I would never have come to on my own as they are coming from a different angle to me.

Loss of the opportunity to get this contrasting view to what I am experiencing in my own setting is something I am quite apprehensive about. I hope that I will manage to find time next year to contrast my practice, and the practice of my school, so directly with that of others. I would urge any soon to be NQTs, and even experienced teachers, to get out of their classrooms, and even their schools, and avoid becoming institutionalized into they way things are done where they are. This has certainly been one of the most worth while experiences of my year, and I hope I can continue to be challenged and grow in such a way as I move forward in the profession.

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6 thoughts on “Getting out of my classroom”

  1. A very interesting blog Oliver – and you are so right! Primary schools can become small, isolated worlds and even your classroom can become disconnected from others if you are not careful. We have benefitted from seeing and assimulating practice from local, national and international partner schools and everyone who comes into our school brings something different that we can use to improve our own practice. An outstanding OFSTED can lead you to rest on your laurels, but we need to gain fresh ideas and viewpoints, to have “traditional” ideas challenged and questioned if we are to keep up with our “target audience”; our pupils. Schools can sometimes stop moving, our pupils never will.

    1. Thanks Paul. I feel very indebted to those of you at Robin Hood who have developed the ethos of learning in this way, and the network to make it such a part of what we do. One thing that was never talked about on my PGCE was networking, so I hope to spread the word to PGCE and NQTs that there are people willing to do this, and how much you can learn from it.

    1. Glad to have encouraged you to do it. I hope your final placement is going well and you have a good summer planned before doing it all again next year!

  2. Thanks Paul. I feel very indebted to those of you at Robin Hood who have developed the ethos of learning in this way, and the network to make it such a part of what we do. One thing that was never talked about on my PGCE was networking, so I hope to spread the word to PGCE and NQTs that there are people willing to do this, and how much you can learn from it.

  3. Glad to have encouraged you to do it. I hope your final placement is going well and you have a good summer planned before doing it all again next year!

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