Simon Smith's
Teacher Training Personal Journal

Lesson 1

Friday, September 27, 2002

Today was our first lesson. I'm currently teaching over 11 hours per week for LBHF Adult Education service and found that the Teacher Training lesson I had today started at the same time as my work ended over a mile away. Perhaps the main lesson of today actually is a lesson from life rather than the classroom, this being "Preparation is half the battle". Consequently when I got in this evening I spent close to an hour preparing a course I'll be running tomorrow. This is the first time I've written a plan for a lesson. I've been teaching IT for around two years now and previously I'd done private teaching in other subjects too.

I normally teach intuitively, which means I try to find out where my clients are in terms of their knowledge then either ask what they want to learn or what their course requires then attempt to teach them. I very rarely use handouts preferring instead to get the clients to take notes or to use repetition throughout the course so that by the end they have taken on board certain techniques. My own experience regarding handouts is that they rarely get used. However because most of what I teach is IT related what I do try to do is get my pupils to be able to search out how to do something by looking up the "Help" menus which tend to accompany most computer programs. I also have a very full life and rarely any spare time so the idea of preparing handouts to give to people who won't even use them is an anathema to me. However I do accept that occasionally handouts are extremely useful and at those times I would be happy to prepare them. As you might be able to tell from that last over defensive monologue I have a bit of a fear about having to become a "clone teacher". I did bring this up at the end of our first lesson and Nina, our teacher, gave me a knowing look, which seemed to indicate to me that I am not the only teacher who comes to this course with such feelings.

So what happened in our first lesson?

Fortunately I wasn't late, well I was but the lesson hadn't started still. I've managed to alter my morning lesson by half an hour which will mean I should be on time next week but won't get a lunch break (ahhhhhhhhhh poor baby!)

Nina spoke at first about how a lesson may start, noting the importance of Health and Safety issues. She mentioned that if we see an item of clothing just laying around that it may be covering a bomb, this made me laugh. Not that it's not possible but I wondered if Al -Qaida were likely to focus on the Macbeth Centre, still you never know.

A man, I've forgotten his name, came in to speak about how recent political changes within the education system effect how important our qualifications will be perceived by the establishment. What he didn't make clear at first was that for many of us it didn't matter particularly because we may be working in Adult education rather than Further Education. Had this been made clear at first, then the rush of cold fear some of us felt and the bloodless faces we all had could have been avoided. By the end of the discussion most of realised that these changes weren't so detrimental after all. After the "good news man" left we got on with lesson.

We've been told to get two ring binders one for our portfolio and one for our course handouts, oops sorry about my rant regarding handouts!

I tend to think about how my lessons went and Nina said she spends ½ hour thinking about her lessons afterwards, I wish I had the time, plus there's a part of me that feels pretty much underpaid already. I'm used to the commercial world, which pays quite a bit more and I'm beginning to get a sense that Adult education is a devotion, rather than a job, to some people.

Nina mentioned that she will be observing us teach at some point, I'm looking forward to that because it's very hard to know if how I teach is any good and I will appreciate feedback from a professional, as long as it doesn't hurt too much.

I shall be teaching in the same building as Nina sometimes and she said to pop up and say hello, also some of the books on the reading list are held in that building too so hopefully I'll actually manage to get hold of one of the books soon. I once read a great book called "How Children Fail" by John Holt I wanted to mention it but didn't.

We then all introduced ourselves, our group is made up of
Billy Jean a tennis Coach
Tom a voice coach
Dermot an IT new teacher
James who teaches Jewellery making
Marika teaches literacy skill (I could do with a bit of that)
Lorraine teaches Drama
RoSSena who's Italian teaches languages
And Jackie teaches photography wants to learn more about group dynamics and how to gel her groups, I told her to make them hate her and that should get them uniting even if it was against her.

Nina teaches assertiveness training, I could actually do with some of that mainly because I'm a bit too pushy.
Nina said the course finishes on the 13th December and the centre will be closed on the 25th October, also we should warn if we're going to be absent. The course requires an 80% attendance I've made sure thew

Saturday courses are clear now so all being well I should be there.

Nina pointed out it's her experience that what we will learn as tutors permeates other areas of life, that we should think about how we check out our pupils, "Remember is better than don't forget".

Nina used a graphical representation of different figures around, on, climbing clinging falling off and lying next to a tree. We had to indicate which figures symbolized our position regarding being a teacher, I chose about 5 of them. This indicated my pleasure and fear at being a teacher.