It is hard to believe that I am now approaching the final month of my teacher training programme. This time last year I was submitting my last exam for university from my kitchen table and wondering where on earth 2020 would take me. Time seems to have simultaneously flown whilst also standing still. Whilst the world may have stopped due to COVID, I have found that I have developed so much from the Miss Ainsley that walked into school 9 months ago.   

Over the last 6 weeks of training, I have seen myself grow more than any other term. Perhaps partially because it is the only half term of teaching that hasn’t been disrupted by a national lockdown, but also because this term has brought with it time to reflect on my own progress and act upon the incredible advice that I have received from those around me.

Although remote teaching ended in the last term, I feel like face-to-face teaching has only just begun with the removal of masks. Prior to this term, I had only seen some of my students faces with a mask on. How crazy is that? How many teachers can say that they have never seen the faces of the pupils that they teach? I am very grateful that this term brought with it the removal of mask-to-mask teaching, albeit it did feel like a school production of the masked singer when everyone was able to take off their masks for the first time. I was half expecting to walk into the RE room and have my colleagues shouting ‘take it off’ whilst we all showed our faces for the first time in months. I am definitely still getting use to not having a mask on 24/7. In fact, I had become quite attached to the idea that half of my face was covered at any one time and, after so long, the freedom makes you feel like you are constantly forgetting something.

Coming into school on Monday the 17th it felt like, even though we have been physically in the school building for a while, this was the day we all returned. There was a collective sigh of relief. I could feel the life of the school coursing through the corridors, like we could all finally breath again.  I was finally able to share a smile (and sometimes a very pointed frown) with students and watch pupils get back to the things that they love doing. Walking into my form and seeing them light up while recounting their football match they had against another school was a small glimpse of what we have all missed, and we maybe didn’t even realise how much.

As I have been teaching my Y10’s about the Bible, there are always literal and symbolic ways of understanding things. So, in my philosophical mind, I find the taking off of masks as symbolic of taking off the security blanket of my training year, using the wisdom that I have gained this year to guide me in what qualified teaching life has in store. I am so grateful for the family that I have created at school. For the pick me ups when I wasn’t feeling myself, to the celebratory picnics in the RE classrooms and the after-work runs to clear my head (although I am not sure my legs are thanking Tasha for that one). The thought of leaving the friends and students that I have grown so close to is not something I feel I am emotionally ready for… I will put that in the pile of things future Amber has to deal with. I really am proud of the journey that I have been on, and I cannot believe that the first chapter of my teaching career is almost at a close.

If my training year was a book (and my reflective journal may as well be), then my work family would most certainly be in the acknowledgements, front and centre.

Since I love making these blog posts an ode to my current teaching, I thought that this time I would end by writing my own creed, a challenge I set to my Year 7’s no so long ago. Whilst mine is nowhere near as cute as the work of 7A, here are 5 things that ‘I believe’ about all of the trainees out there who are also coming to the end of their training:

  1. I believe that God has a plan for each one of us and that nothing which is meant for us will ever pass us by.
  2. I believe that we have all overcome so many obstacles this year, be it work-related or personal, and for that, we should be super proud.
  3. I believe that we should celebrate the small victories, whether they are our own or a colleagues, especially if it involves wine or cake!
  4. I believe that there are always people there who want to support you, and they are incredible. Don’t take them for granted.
  5. And finally, I believe that we are all going to have one very well deserved break.

Amber Ainsley, Trainee Teacher of RE