"I feel like I am lucky to still be able to influence and teach children while everything around us is unfamiliar and scary. I have noticed the children rely on us to keep some normality in their life during lockdown and that’s a real privilege as it’s the same for myself, too. (They bring happiness when the world is suffering)".
Today we chat with Rosie McCann about her experience of her teacher training year with The Sheffield SCITT. Rosie's enthusiasm shines through, her optimism must be a welcome distraction from the difficulties posed for her students during the Covid pandemic.
What would you say to someone that wants to start teacher training but is feeling disheartened due to the current restrictions?
Go for it, it’s been such a saviour when people are losing jobs and their life plans have been put on hold, I’ve felt so lucky to still be able to learn and grow and pursue my teaching career. It feels like a light in the darkness.
How are you finding your current training year with The Sheffield SCITT?
It’s really hard and there’s lots of work but the reward of becoming a teacher and influencing children and being a part of their lives is such a fulfilling reward.
I was a singer in a reggae band in a ski resort in Austria for 6 years before beginning my teaching career so it has been quite a transition!
How has Covid-19 affected your training?
It’s been difficult to witness what a usual school would be like before Covid however I feel I’ve learned so much more by having to teach on zoom, finding ways to assess and help children who are working from home.
How has new your school adapted due to the current restrictions?
With a very calm approach, the school I’m at currently has done everything they can to follow guidelines but keep learning and children’s well-being as their main focus, reassuring all children that things will go back to normal and that all they can do is their best in times like these. I think it’s taught teachers and children a very valuable lesson, to stop and think about what really is important in life, and not to get caught up in trivial life occurrences.
How has the shift to online teaching been for you?
It’s been really hard and I’m still finding new ways of handling children at home and children in the class, balancing my awareness so that I can try and give both groups of children the same amount of help and focus. Along with my mentor (the class teacher) we have had to find new ways of helping children at home who are not in our company physically, by asking them to stay on zoom longer after lessons or putting them in a breakout room to correct misconceptions in learning.
Do you feel like your training is being supported throughout this pandemic?
Yes, I think we’re lucky to have been able to stay at our placements and still train to be teachers. I do worry that when life returns to “normal” there will be things we haven’t dealt with or come across in this first year at SCITT but I think we’ll be prepared and have the skills to deal with this on the job.
How are you finding the balance between teaching/training and home life?
It’s hard but I still feel very lucky to have something to focus on and a distraction from what’s going on around me. I feel so grateful to be able to study and learn new skills while other people in the world are losing jobs and the ability to go somewhere everyday.
What has been the hardest thing to adjust to? What has helped you overcome this?
Not being able to have children in class. We’ve managed to create a happy learning environment on Zoom and tried to make every child feel like they are involved, as much as the key worker children who are in school. We’ve allowed children to chat to each other outside of learning time on Zoom so that children don’t feel isolated and can still socialise and know what’s going on at school while they are unable to attend.
What would a typical day entail for you during the current restrictions?
9:15am, log onto zoom and do registration with children at home on zoom and those in class, have a brief chat about what they did the night before and/or any news they want to share, and then promptly begin maths.
Maths: sharing a PowerPoint with voice overs for children at home and on the screen, me and the teacher then team teach and go through today’s learning, ensuring everyone is able to hear over zoom and write their answers privately in the chat for a warm up activity, and linking to learning from the previous day, and then children complete 7 process questions in their book. If anyone is unsure or not confident with the task we put them into a breakout room where myself or the teacher will take a laptop into a quiet area in school with a whiteboard and unpick the learning, breaking it down step by step so children can understand and grasp what is being taught, while the other will support the children in the classroom.
10:15am Break time as usual, it’s been lovely especially in the snow to see children playing and happy and mixing with different children in their class that they wouldn’t usually play with before lockdown.
Do you still feel as enthusiastic about teaching as you did when you started?
Very much so, I feel like I am lucky to still be able to influence and teach children while everything around us is unfamiliar and scary. I have noticed the children rely on us to keep some normality in their life during lockdown and that’s a real privilege as it’s the same for myself, too. (They bring happiness when the world is suffering)
What have you learnt about yourself from your training so far?
I am quite a natural when building relationships with children however I need to work harder to organise and plan my life and work life as a teacher would, whether I’ve found this hard due to Covid restrictions and an almost topsy-turvy routine I’ve had to get used to, with no time to attend recreational activities or go to the gym or socialise which I find help me get by, or whether it’s just adjusting to becoming a teacher. I was a singer in a reggae band in a ski resort in Austria for 6 years before beginning my teaching career so it has been quite a transition! 😊
Do you have any advice for current and future trainees?
Get your Lesson Plans and Evidence Bundles done in good time and just take every single opportunity you are given. Try and appreciate every single day of your placement!