Post lockdowns, the first face to face schools work that I (Hettie) was able to do, was to teach a series of lessons in a Primary School. After not seeing children or young people face to face for months, it was quite emotional for me and I absolutely loved it! During these lessons I felt a very strong feeling that I was supposed to give the rest of my working life to teaching.
It came out of nowhere (well, not quite nowhere; when I was a child, I always said that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up- maybe I’m finally growing up!). I went home after the lessons and prayed and asked God to make it clear if it was what He wanted me to do. There were multiple things that happened, one of which was finding out that the only University in the country to do a part-time Primary Education degree was… 20 minutes away! Lots of things fell into place and God answered my prayers in through multiple avenues. I applied and was accepted onto the course and started in September last year. It is a part-time programme at Edge Hill University that takes 4 years to complete! I have still been working full-time for SASWT during this year and have found my studies to be very beneficial for my work in schools and my role as a school Governor.
After Easter, I was blessed to be able to complete my school placement at Ainsdale St. John’s Primary School. This is a school that we hadn’t been into as much as we did pre-lockdowns, so I was very excited to get involved- plus this is the school where I first felt that I was supposed to go into teaching. I worked in Year 5 with an amazing team who I really enjoyed working with and made me laugh everyday! I observed quality teaching and gradually taught more lessons myself. It was a learning curve but I was very well supported! Some subjects such as P.E, R.E, P.S.H.E, R.S.E- all the subjects with acronyms, I was comfortable teaching due to my work, however I hadn’t ever taught core subjects like Maths and English. I nudged myself out of my comfort zone and found that I really enjoyed teaching English – I’m so used to sharing stories from The Bible with children, that I think this is what made it easier. The main subject that I loved to teach was music. Although I am a relatively musical person, I had never taught music before. I enjoyed the flexibility to be creative, use instruments, go outdoors, compose music, create an ensemble and write a parody song with the class. On the final week, we looked at how music can affect our mood. It was particularly good to see them enjoy music by Christian artists that they didn’t expect was Christian, and to share how worship music can uplift us. My growing confidence in teaching music, led us to start a children’s Gospel choir for Sonfest (see other post).
I found myself becoming more and more comfortable with teaching different subjects, but that is not all teachers do. My experience of pastoral support and our Secondary School Safe Spaces meant that I was able to offer social and emotional support to the children too. This is all the more needed after the ups and downs children have had over the past few years. One of the things that I was blessed to be part of was the ‘Sing for joy’ club. Children meet after school with an incredible teacher and they sing, because singing is good for our mental health, no matter what age we are. I taught the children some new Christian songs that they loved and were then happy to lead with me in school collective worship. It was wonderful to be part of this, as I would as a visitor to school. I supported aspects of collective worship and led class worship when we needed it last minute.
There is so much that I could say about my placement (ask Tabz, he had to endure a full excitable debrief every evening). I have never felt that I have thrived so much in my life! I loved every day and it was encouraging to feel certain that this is right where God wants me to be. Everything that I have done in my working life so far has given me skills that I can use as a teacher. I enjoy many things that the majority of teachers are less inclined towards e.g. P.E, assemblies, music, R.E, clubs, productions and feel that I could really contribute towards the spiritual life of a school.
I am very excited for the future, although I still have 3 years before I qualify, so I can use my learning to boost our work in schools. I’m full of ideas of what resources I can help develop for SASW Trust whilst I’m getting some valuable input from university, my tutors and school placements. It feels like a while off yet, but I’m really hoping by the time I move on to my first teaching job, my teacher training will have enabled me to have left a significant mark on SASW Trust, in the development and growth of our work, as well as great resources, professional links and opportunities for those who follow after me.