May 28, 2019

Being a Trainee at Myton – Meg

I joined Myton this year with the same trepidation that I imagine many Year 7s did – an anxiety about what was to come, but with a great deal of excitement about it too. I joined the drama department at Myton for the first placement of my PGCE and, as with all new endeavours, there was a lot to learn, and a lot to learn quickly.

Myton was an easy school to settle in to – the staff are friendly and welcoming, and the students, for the most part, are well-behaved and engaged, and the drama department especially has wonderfully kind teachers and interested, curious children. Having settled in comfortably (and having only gotten lost twice), I found myself teaching full lessons within a few weeks, and this represented an issue that faces all new teachers: how do I make my lessons exciting, interesting, and engaging, while still teaching my students everything they need to learn?

Perhaps this is easier with drama than it is with other subjects (Bowell and Heap, 2013) – it is active by nature, and practical assessments often inspire less fear than written. The challenge with drama is in how to ensure that learning does take place, and that lessons have purpose, and are not just ‘fun’. I have been teaching for over a month now, and this is still something I am struggling with. Teachers go into teaching to try and make a difference to students’ lives (Schoenfeld, 2009), and I am no different. Because of this, we don’t just want our students to respect us – we want them to like us. As a teacher who is new to the school, who cannot name each pupil on sight, I feel this very keenly – I feel like, to prove myself, to become a part of the community, I must be liked.

It is easy to do this by playing games every lesson, but does that earn respect, and does that ensure teaching? I have seen many teachers at Myton tread this line with such precision; they are both liked and respected, and their lessons are both fun and educational, and to eventually reach this equilibrium is something that I look forward to greatly.

Embedded in all this is behaviour management, and while this is necessary for any and all teachers, it is very daunting for trainees. In discussions with PGCE students based at other schools, it seems that students at Myton, on the whole, are comparatively very well behaved, which I suspect is due in no small part to Myton’s clear and regularly implemented behavioural policies. There’s a lot of positive to take from Myton’s approach to misbehaviour – UPR, ‘Reprimand in Private, Praise in Public’, the subtle taking of a pocket diary as a warning that doesn’t generate a lot of attention – from an outside perspective, these seem to create a school that is respectful and considerate, and it credits a school when poor behaviour is seen as the anomaly. That said, seeing these practices take place in someone else’s classroom, and using them yourself, are two very different things, and while I am grateful not to have had to implement any of the more extreme sanctions so far, I am nervous that my inexperience with them will show, or that, in the moment, I will choose the wrong path. No one goes through life without making mistakes, of course, and if there is an opportunity to try things out, and to make mistakes, it is surely now, when there is considerable support there to help in these situations.

Our university has provided for us a ‘behaviour toolkit’, but without opportunity to put these tools into practice, how these will work with different situations, different students, and different schools, is something that can only be discovered through experience – the innate ability for the teachers that I have observed, to know which course of action is the most appropriate in any one situation, is enviable, and something I aspire to. It seems that this feeling of inability to know what to do when confronted with a situation that requires behaviour management is not uncommon, and is not new.

In 1993, Merrett and Wheldall suggested that behaviour management was not a priority for establishments that train teachers, and while much has changed in the last 25 years, it certainly feels like there’s an element of ‘behaviour management being the school’s domain’ currently. Learning techniques that are so specific to one school, however, makes it tricky to jump right into another school, running the risk of implementing the wrong technique at the wrong time in a new setting; if I have learnt anything so far at Myton, it is that consistency through BfL is key (Rowe, 2006).

I am grateful that I was placed at Myton, not only for the relatively short commute, but for the sense of community here, the constant support, and the feeling that my contributions to both teaching and the school as a whole have been valued and appreciated. I have already overcome many hurdles, lost some battles, and am ready and eager to face more.


Pamela Bowell & Simon Heap (2013) Planning Process Drama (Oxon: Routledge)

Frank Merrett & Kevin Wheldall (1993) ‘How Do Teachers Learn to Manage Classroom Behaviour? A study of teachers’ opinions about their initial training with special reference to classroom behaviour management’, Educational Studies, 19:1, 91-106

Don Rowe (2006) ‘Taking responsibility: school behaviour policies in England, moral development and implications for citizenship education’, Journal of Moral Education, 35:4, 519-531

Alan H. Schoenfeld (2009) ‘Why Do We Teach?’, Kappa Delta Pi Record, 46:1, 26-29

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