How has COVID affected teaching placements?
Being on a professional degree course such as a teacher training programme requires a specific amount of placement hours. Unfortunately for me, my first year placement was cut short due to the pandemic so I was understandably concerned about this year’s placements.
My 2nd year placement was meant to commence back in January for 6 weeks but this was again cancelled due to the lockdown. Luckily, when schools opened up on the 8th March, we were allowed to go straight back to it. At first I was apprehensive because I had missed the admin experience from the first year and felt a bit overwhelmed with all the paperwork that has to be filled out. Alongside this, I had not been observed for my teaching practice so this was also a daunting thought.
People have been asking me about how this experience is different from my prior school experience and to tell you the truth, its not that different at all. You are still expected to teach individuals, groups and the whole class (building up to 65% contact time by the end of the 7 weeks). The only real differences that are in place are the hand washing/sanitising, the mask wearing around the school and the no mixing of bubbles. most of these changes are hardly noticeable as they have been built into the standard rules and expectations for the children so they respect and follow these at all times.
The only real difficulty is not mixing bubbles. this is not particularly easy in a primary school. My placement school used to share the teaching of phonics based on ability. This meant that low ability of Year 1 children could come down to the Early Years classroom, and the academically more able EY students could go up to the Y1 class. As this is not currently possible, the staff have a lot on their hands. Fortunately for trainees, such as myself, this means that I get to take on more responsibility by teaching specific ability groups rather than trying to teach a wide range of abilities at once.
So, to recap, placement still has the same expectations as usual because it has not change drastically enough for this change. There are still plenty of opportunities to teach but to also fulfill the wider responsibilities of the role. Plymouth Marjon University have done everything within their power to get us back into placement to get the minimum required hours and have been so supportive throughout the whole process.