This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Learning to be a Teacher

Katie-Jane Knight Katie-Jane Knight currently teaches GCSE and Functional Skills English at Newham College of Further Education in London. She has recently completed a PGCE and Additional Diploma in Teaching ESOL and Literacy. Katie-Jane wanted to share some of her key experiences as a trainee teacher.

On the brink of completing my PGCE and Additional Diploma in Teaching ESOL and Literacy, I find myself looking forwards to a career in teaching, as well as looking back on how far I have come.

The past two years of being a trainee teacher have gone by in a blur. I can distinctly remember the feeling of those first few lessons – a cross between excitement, nausea and blind panic that everything would fall apart! I can remember my mentor telling me I would be fine after observing me in my second week. I wasn't entirely convinced she was right at the time, but the feeling of panic gradually started to fade. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when I started to feel comfortable in the classroom. There was definitely a shift somewhere when teaching started to feel more natural and this came with an increased confidence that if things do go wrong (which they inevitably do) you can usually put them right again, perhaps with a little help from your colleagues.

Teaching is a challenging career, but it challenges me for the right reasons: the changing pace of the day, the anticipation before every lesson, the careful planning and the realisation that something you teach could make a real difference to someone. The wide range of students I have taught has thrown some interesting experiences my way. Below, I have outlined a snapshot of a few important factors from my time as a trainee teacher.

Language and Literacy It is interesting to look back on how my opinions about language and literacy have changed. As a new language teacher, I questioned my own understanding of the complexities of the English language, and consequently, my ability to teach it.

Studying the Additional Diploma in Teaching ESOL and Literacy has made me increasingly aware of the importance of language and literacy skills for all learners. This might seem obvious, but learning about theories of language learning has definitely helped me to support students, especially through giving accurate and detailed feedback. The journey from having to research specific language points in preparation for a lesson to being able to give on-the-spot language feedback accurately sums up a huge area of professional growth for me!

Schema In the dystopian novel Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, Snowman has difficulty introducing new concepts to the 'Crakers' (genetically modified humans); 'To them his name is just two syllables. They don't know what a snowman is, they've never seen snow.' (Atwood, 2004, pp7-8) This is because the 'Crakers' cannot access their past experiences. They have been raised in a bubble dome where only very basic concepts and objects needed for survival have been introduced to them.

Although our learners are very far removed from the idea of the 'Crakers', they do rely on their own past experiences to support their understanding of learning a new language. Each individual learner has a different schema depending on his or her own experiences. For example, in a lesson about fruit with some 16- 18 pre-entry learners, I had some trouble explaining that a blackberry was a fruit! Their schema associated the word 'Blackberry' with something they were familiar with – a mobile phone. It is important understand


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52