Reflections on my teacher training journey by Yazmin Hunter
CREC SCITT’s graduate, Yazmin Hunter, now a Reception teacher working at Whitely Abbey Primary School in Coventry, shares her trainee teacher journey which she successfully completed last year.
I started my journey on the CREC SCITT in September 2020. At that point my daughter was 16-months-old and it was a massive transition for us; my daughter starting nursery and me embarking on a new adventure into teaching, doing something I have long felt passionate about.
I started my early years placement in October having started academic input in September, which continued for me on a weekly basis, timetabled in to run alongside topics and themes I was engaging with in my school. Although there is a lot to absorb, much of the early theoretical input I received at the start of my training year stuck with me and I feel is now embedded within my pedagogy. The academic input has a practical place in teaching and something I found myself continually drawing upon throughout the SCITT year and now in my first year of teaching - especially regarding child development.
From the beginning of my training year, I kept a reflections log to note down what I had learnt, what I found interesting, what I did and did not necessarily agree with (my developing pedagogy) and my general thoughts and reflections on a given day. I think this was a crucial element in my journey; something I regularly looked back on and evidenced how my thoughts and understanding were changing and developing.
My EYFS placement gave me the opportunity to engage with children of all abilities and backgrounds, with a breadth of experience catering to the needs of children with SEN/D and EAL. I spent time with the children, building strong relationships and learning about their individual interests and what made them unique. The relationships I formed with the children were at the heart of my practice, providing me with an insight into their likes, needs and how I could tailor activities to provide support and ensure inclusivity. Using their interests as a catalyst, I engaged the children in various learning opportunities to support their growth and development. As my journey continued, I had broadened my responsibilities with both the children and the team. I was able to lead around 60% of the teaching by April and had an active role in the planning. From the start of the Spring term, I was responsible for the planning of all family time sessions and took the lead during weekly planning and pedagogy meetings. These meetings were really beneficial; they helped formulate ideas amongst colleagues, of what had worked well, current challenges and talking about those children who might need further support.
I had several observations by my mentor, teaching partner and the head of school. Although I remember feeling nervous at times when I knew an observation was scheduled, I cannot stress how important they were for my continuing professional development. They provided me with the time to look back on what I was doing well and my areas of strength, but also offered reflective space for what I could have done or could do differently in the future to further the development and progress of the children. This was a really valuable aspect of the practice-based portion of the SCITT programme and supported my developing pedagogy and professionalism.
Alongside the placement aspect of my journey, I was also engaging with studies and research and the changing curricula frameworks for early years. Days at CREC provided that reflective space for us as a cohort to discuss each other's journeys and to reflect on what our strengths and challenges of the week had been. This time was also devoted to updating evidence logs of our journeys and demonstrating how we were covering the course curriculum. This evidence was then drawn upon at the end of the year when we had to demonstrate we could meet the teachers' standards in order to gain our Qualified Teacher Status.
I also gained my PG Cert (60 credits at Level 7) by completing a set of three academic assignments which ran alongside our teaching journey. The assignments were well placed throughout the year and the support I had received from both my academic tutor and my placement mentors was truly amazing. I genuinely could not have asked for a better support system which was tailored to my individual needs, and I felt there was a genuine care about my wellbeing and development.
I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with such a wonderful, inspiring, and motivated team who supported me along the way. Training during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic was not without its challenges - but it provided me with practical experiences that made me more adaptable, versatile, and resilient. The children experienced massive disruptions to their lives, and this was evident through their behaviours. Learning techniques to manage undesirable behaviour was rewarding and meant more opportunities to engage with the children. I found that by opening a dialogue with the children, offering them a safe space to talk about their feelings or share their worries helped build trust and rapport. This trust in the relationship is what drives the children to want to learn in your presence and to be motivated to engage in the learning opportunities that are offered.
I feel I have learnt and experienced a lot already but for me, training and teaching is a journey and I endeavour to learn much more and strive for my teaching to always have a positive effect on the learning and development of all children in my care.
Yazmin completed her Initial Teacher Training with CREC Early Years Partnership SCITT in July 2021 and now works as a Reception teacher at Whitely Abbey Primary School in Coventry. To learn more about the programme and how to apply please browse our website, attend one of our upcoming information events and/or contact us.