At the beginning of this year, my main target was to become a primary school teacher. I was relatively confident that by September I would be able to achieve this with a little bit of support from my tutors, family and close friends. To achieve this, I needed to complete 2 placements – 1 in Key Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2) and 1 in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6).
Before Christmas, my placement was in Key Stage 2, which is my least preferred age group. Along with teaching up to 60%, I learnt a lot about myself, the curriculum and aspects of teaching, but was definitely out of my comfort zone. This meant I did struggle and there were times during my placement where I didn’t know what to do or how to improve. I did, however, grow in confidence as a person and as a developing teacher.
My second placement in Key Stage One, was my preferred choice and I was confident that I would enjoy it and it would allow me to successfully complete and gain qualified teaching status (QTS). Unfortunately, this was cancelled as lockdown was imposed. This left me incredibly upset and was a massive blow. I had no idea what was going to happen. This left me with many questions and worries about the future. Before it got too late, I made the decision to come home so that I could spend lockdown with my family. During the first couple of weeks, my programme leaders emailed advising me to start preparing job applications and to look out for online seminars which they were going to commence to keep our subject knowledge up.
The next couple of months consisted of weekly online seminars, applying for jobs and collating my evidence from my first placement to send to the examining body.
The uncertainty that prevailed resulted in me struggling and I experienced a couple of really low weeks during the latter half of lockdown. In addition, I was beginning to realise that my Key Stage Two placement, had not provided me with sufficient evidence to achieve the competencies required for QTS, which was confirmed by uni at the end of June. This was devastating, but did explain the 10 unsuccessful teaching applications!
So for the future. After despair, lots of praying and support from my family and uni tutors, I now have the opportunity of completing my teacher training, thanks to my course being extended with the availability of another placement. With this, I will now have the opportunity to become a qualified teacher by the end of the year, hoping to start my first teaching position in January 2021.
My faith and next steps of the church
Since I started university, my faith has developed massively. I have certainly seen my fair share of highs and lows during my spiritual life over that time, and I think lockdown has been a strange period for everybody’s faith. In Winchester, at the church I go to, I am blessed to be part of the Children’s and Young Families Team, helping to lead the Key Stage 1 children’s group most weeks. It amazes me how much knowledge of God and Jesus the children at that age have and their enthusiasm when we sing worship songs together, with all the actions.
But I look forward to the evening services, as it is my time with God where I can connect with him over worship and song, learning more about our faith. During lockdown, I have still tried to make some time on a Sunday to have ‘God time’ playing worship music in the background and reading my Bible. With the technological advances of these days, I have been able to ‘watch’ church from Facebook as the church have starting putting services together online. It’s not the same as in person but it is definitely a good alternative. It means that I can still see the main leaders giving us the word in an act of worship.
Looking forward, with social distancing and wearing masks now mandatory pretty much everywhere, I think the church will have to look slightly different for a long period of time. I think having services online are going to be seen more normal, even for prayer and home groups, particularly for those in vulnerable categories who don’t feel safe adventuring out, giving them the opportunity to remain part of the community.
I think what is extremely important during these times of challenge and unknowing is to remain strong and to keep our faith in our Lord and Saviour. Only He and He alone knows what lies ahead during the next weeks, months and years to come.
If this whole experience has taught me anything, I believe it has made me a lot more resilient, motivated and perseverant. I have had a couple of knock backs over the last couple of months, but in many ways that has given me the fire in my belly to want to achieve it even more and prove to myself that I can succeed. In the hymn ‘One more step along the world I go’, the third verse talks about travelling “through the bad and good” as well losing sight of direction, whatever situation we are in, He will tell us the way to go. These words sum up the emotional rollercoaster which lockdown has been for me and I am now thankful that He is finally “telling me the way, I know”.
I believe and know that He is always there for us to rely on. We may not feel that at the time, but from past experiences, He definitely is; do not underestimate how amazing He is.