Teaching placements in the time of Covid-19

Like all students across the country, my studies have been hugely changed and altered, due to Covid-19. But one of the main setbacks I have faced during my studies, was having my first-year block teaching placement cancelled; how was this going to influence my development as a teacher?

Before coming to Marjon, my experience in a school setting was quite broad, having worked in a pre-school and Key Stage 1 unit for 2 years alongside my NVQ, as well as volunteering with children aged from 4 to 17 years. However, this was more of a support role, whereas my experience in taking leadership as a teacher, had been very little. Even though this experience of supporting children in education, gave me knowledge in different ways to support learners and to use within practice, I was not able to practice the teaching and assessment opportunities, one of the most important roles of a teacher.

But this all changed half way through the first lockdown and summer holidays. I became a home-schooling tutor for those in my local community, which then gave me the chance to plan lessons for different age ranges and give them the one to one support for their learning, but in a fun and relaxed way. This opportunity to work with children in a different environment and teaching style, has changed my perspective on teaching, and my own teaching philosophy, which I have now carried onto my second -year block placement, that I am currently doing.

Now primary schools are back to in person learning, I have been able to start my six-week block placement, based in a Foundation unit. Before going into schools, as well as feeling excited to be back in the classroom, like many, I felt apprehensive with how things have changed in schools, due to coronavirus and how this may affect my experience. However, so far, my experience has been amazing, with a supportive staff team who have welcomed me to the school and into the classroom.

By having an encouraging mentor and team of teachers and teaching assistants, this has given me the confidence to become more of a leader within the classroom, and taking control of the classroom, which is something I will need to become familiar with when I qualify.

Reflecting back on the cancellation of placements and the previous lockdowns, I can see substantial change in my perspective of teaching as well as my own personal growth and journey to become a teacher. I have learnt skills both during the lockdowns and on my current teaching placement, such as prioritising my own education and own mental health compared to volunteering which was not always necessary. As well as this, being resilient has been one of the main skills I have learnt, with the sudden  change of going into lockdown and coping with the change to online learning. These skills that I have gained and developed over my time at Marjon, I think will give me the best opportunity to develop further into my future career.

When I qualify as an early years teacher, I will have faced and overcome a challenge many have not experienced during their training years.

I did not deal with postponed and cancelled placements alone, the amazing support I gained from the staff at Marjon, allowed me to confidently carry on my degree during the first lockdown. For those who have visited Marjon campus or been to one of the online events, you will usually here about the phrase the ‘Marjon family’. Over the last few months, this has definitely been the case in the fact that we are all supporting each other, whether this has been the academic support by our lecturers and tutors, or pastoral support from Student support or our Chaplains.

Personally, I think the lecturers at Marjon, gave myself and many others in my class a huge amount of support with our academic work but most of all, reassuring us that we can do it. They gave us a boost of confidence and motivation for the months ahead.

Christabel White, BEd (Hons) in Primary Education – Early Years (with QTS)

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