[This is why] proper training is important. You’re not dumped straight in at the deep end without the professional maturity to deal with challenging behaviour appropriately. Of course no aspiring trainee teacher is either…but we learnt through placements and lectures how to do it. Our hands were held along the way. Our mentors weren’t out of our sight as we completely messed up telling a child off, letting a child off, missing what that child over there was doing and their feedback only made us stronger. We became used to feedback and reflections so that in our NQT year, when the stabilisers were off and we were really on our own, we could cope when getting further advice (we didn’t need to compose a song in the toilet).
I feel waves of sympathy towards these ‘ToughYoungTeachers: I couldn’t have dealt with Caleb after six weeks; after six years I probably would still have needed help. But then I flip and feel a bit cross – where is their support? Many TeachFirst folks have answered my queries on Twitter and assure me that support is in place and it’s really good. I hope so, if only so in years to come, the leaders of Teach First can sleep at night.
Whatever support may or may not be in place, it is still my argument that these teachers are woefully underprepared because the notion of gradualism is weak in Teach First’s course structure.