United Teaching Blog

Sean - Paddington Academy

Looking back at training with United Teaching


United Teaching graduate Sean recently finished his training year at Paddington Academy. Here, he reviews his time on the course:As everyone will tell you, teacher training is a year of ups and downs. I am very pleased to say that in my year with United Teaching, I have had far more of the ‘ups’ than the ‘downs’! It’s been a challenging yet supportive process and I am excited for what is to come in my NQT year. 

What was the highlight of your training year?

There have been many memorable moments throughout the year and it is hard to narrow it down to a few highlights. One that stands out for me was supporting my Y8 tutor group on sports day. Despite some challenges over the course of my time tutoring them, they all really came together and supported each other in a way I had never seen before. It was amazing to see that all their positivity paid off when they achieved first place.

Another highlight of the year was coaching the Y11 basketball team. I don’t think the boys would mind me saying they weren’t the most successful team over the season in terms of wins and losses, but they made so much progress both in terms of their skills as basketball players but perhaps more importantly as members of a team. I was really proud of their efforts and attitude throughout the season and I really enjoyed getting to know all of them on a more personal level.

What did you learn this year?

I think it’s safe to say that this year has been a steep learning curve! I have learnt so many things in such a short space of time. Managing behaviour, marking books, marking assessments, planning lessons, cold calling, to name but a few. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed hearing about all of these parts of teaching at first but over time I managed to integrate all of this into my lessons until it felt fairly routine.

In terms of subject content, there will always be parts of the curriculum that you have less experience in. In these situations I would make sure I felt confident with these lessons by carrying out the tasks that the students were being asked to do myself. This not only improved my understanding of the content I was teaching but also flagged any potential problems with the task which can be fixed prior to the lesson.

I suppose the most useful thing that I learnt was to prioritise my to do list. There are so many things to do each day that it can be hard to juggle everything. By focusing on one task at a time, everything becomes more manageable and it is quite motivating when you starting ticking off those jobs on that long list!

What advice would you give a new trainee?

I think something that makes an outstanding trainee is your ability to learn from those around you - of course, from experienced staff members but also from the students you teach. Take feedback in a positive way that helps improve your practice and you will learn quickly and become the teacher you have dreamed of being.

Also, all teachers are different. Be yourself. I have observed some incredible teachers throughout my training year and I have taken much from these observations. While this is a great thing to do, don’t try to be that teacher! The students appreciate it when their teacher is being themselves and understand that every teacher is different.

Finally, try to make your mark in the school. Whether that’s the teacher who plays sport with the students at break time, the teacher that students can go to in times of trouble, or perhaps the teacher who will get involved with clubs or trips. Think about what special skills or attributes you have and try and use those to help the school in ways outside of the classroom. You’ll find that getting to know students in a different environment than the classroom will help in so many ways.

What’s next?

I am really looking forward to my NQT year. I have been asked to teach PE as a second. This is very exciting as I get to teach my two favourite subjects across both KS3 and KS4. I also hope to help out with or perhaps even run the Duke of Edinburgh Award at the school. This will be an amazing opportunity to pass on my enthusiasm for learning to the students, where they would need to undertake an expedition, a new sport, a new skill and a community project.

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