Welcome to the second edition of our new blog feature following the journey of Jill an Early Career Teacher and her mentor Catherine. Both have generously agreed to share some of their Early Career Framework experiences with us.
I recently attended an online seminar for module 3 where we discussed the importance of modelling and explanations to promote learning. This was my first seminar with a new group of ECTs and two new facilitators. Although the seminar was over Zoom, it provided a great opportunity to meet other people on the same programme. I think we have all got pretty good at virtual introductions now! During the session we worked in breakout groups to share our thoughts and experiences, a process that I really valued as both a student teacher and now as an ECT.
Our facilitators also shared their own experiences in the classroom throughout the presentation. One of their stories included the importance of using a broad range of concrete examples to model abstract ideas to avoid misconceptions. This story was later replayed in my head in middle of teaching year 1 phonics! I was teaching the split diagraph ‘a-e’ but as I moved through my example ‘a-e’ words I realised I might be unintentionally causing a misconception. I used the words “make”, “bake”, “cake”, “snake”… Can you spot the mistake I was making?! Yes, all my examples used ‘k’ between the a-e! I caught myself doing it and immediately included more example words like “lane”, “gate” and “flame”. From a teacher’s point of view this probably seems an obvious mistake to avoid, but during a fast-paced lesson sometimes the most obvious mistakes are the easiest to overlook. There are so many components to remember, even in the shortest of lessons, let alone the whole day, that for an ECT it can feel overwhelming. I watch my mentor in awe as she masters these components effortlessly, hoping that one day I will also have that second nature.
As both an ECF facilitator and mentor, I’m in the lucky position to see the ECF with a number of different ‘hats’ – through mentoring Jill in my own school and also working with ECTs and mentors in my facilitator role with One Cumbria. Like Jill though, the CPD content of the ECF is also making a difference in my own teaching, as well as in the mentoring I am doing.
The CPD content often puts into words techniques I may have been using myself without realising, such as including a broad range of examples as Jill explained above. By having these teaching techniques named and explained in the CPD materials, it really helps to identify and work with these areas in mentoring. It has the added benefit of improving my own teaching too!
It definitely takes time to learn the complex skill of teaching and for particular aspects to become embedded in practice. However long we have been in the classroom for, we are all still learning. I am especially welcoming the deeper understanding of teaching which the ECF is providing me, aiding my own professional development in both teaching and mentoring.
You can catch-up on Jill & Catherine’s previous blog post here.