I don’t quite know why I woke up on Boxing Day with the words ‘Well well well … looks like someone‘s not an outstanding graduate’ in my head, but I did. These words triggered a flurry of memories of the Summer of 2011, when I did my teacher training with TeachFirst. Many people are interested in TeachFirst, in a commentariat way. What I offer here is almost certain of no relevance to you – mine is a mixture of odd happenings and meetings,
‘Looks like someone’s not an outstanding graduate’
Our collection of soon-to-be London primary teachers had too much humour, and we very often directed it at TeachFirst itself. This perhaps helped to quell some of our worries about TeachFirst, without us straying from ‘the mission’. An amusing memory was our little rabble in an ICT suite in the IoE receiving some instruction in how to use Powerpoint engagingly. I am not sure if your experience of ICT lessons in school was anything like mine, but it was always just a chance to mess about. Well, when we were tasked with making an interactive game over Powerpoint – a quiz that responded and directed to different slides based on whether you are right or wrong – it was too tempting. We recorded sound files that mocked you if you were incorrect, and what better way to reprimand a TeachFirster than “Look like someone’s not an outstanding graduate’. Chuckle chuckle.
We received only two hours of training for the teaching of PE, which sadly was to be delivered at 9am after a night of merry making. Though we did accidentally sleep through the lecture element, all crusty-eyed and snoozy in our short shorts (actually that was just me) the interactive part was hilarious. We had a lesson in how to teach movement through making an interpretive dance of the Jabberwocky. This is me and my friend Matt, with me representing the vorpal sword about to go snicker snack into the three-femme Jabberwock.
The Dance Off
At the end of our training, a party was thrown at Warwick University, and in keeping with the summer spirit, yet again, much merrymaking ensued. I had made myself a facemask from Poundland, and this anonymity saw my inhibitions fade into the ether. So much so that I was invited to a competitive dance off on the stage, which tipped me into paroxysms of actual euphoria. Needless to say, with my Salad Fingers swag, I vanquished all opponents,
The Actual Learning
It is interesting too look back now on what ‘stook’ – what do I actually remember from that zany six-week blur. I remember a fantastic Geography session where we looked at how interpreting photographs of different places can trigger deep questioning and prompt a richer understanding. I remember a great session of story telling, again focused on questioning, which used Anthony Browne’s ‘Voices in the Park’. I remember a session on using resources in story telling (which due to time constraint was also used as our French lesson) where we filmed a video of Charlie le Chat and the weather. I remember the Maths man teaching us Fizz Buzz.
Starting TeachFirst was always going to be a bit daunting. I hadn’t even graduated from Cambridge when I started TeachFirst (I had to go back in the first weekend to graduate and to become 21!), and the thought that I was going to have to spent time with a load of zealous mission-led posh heads rankled with me. This dissipated within seconds of arriving, when I heard the aggressive Northern growls of my friend Matt, queueing up furiously to register – in that moment, I realised these would be my people. I met a group of level-headed, passionate but BS-averse individuals who were very committed but committed also to having a larf. The summer at the IoE and at Warwick was one of the most chilled and relaxed I have had, and it led to me feeling tip-top when I was to start in the summer.
Those who are still doing it from the group – which is quite a few – are among the geekiest and most involved teachers I have met, and they are a stellar bunch. Larvely.