Teaching in Kent


The Kent teaching experience has been a huge learning curve for me. It really opened my eyes to education outside Ireland and how it differs to Ireland in relation to teaching style, classroom management, and the school structure. There are many aspects of the experience in which I will take away with me, reflect on, and learn from.

How Education Differs In England

The school which I observed was highly streamed and resulted in a vast range of mixed ability classes. This is unlike the schools which I have attended in Ireland. I found the contrast in schools to be highly educational as a student teacher. I got the opportunity to observe how experienced teachers deal with challenging pupils in challenging circumstances. I have taken away from this many points to note and areas to improve on myself as a teacher.  I have learnt valuable teaching methods which I can now incorporate into my lesson plans. For example; I will write out the aims and objectives of each lesson on the board through power point and any instructions the pupils need to follow for an activity clearly on the board. I seen how effective this was in the classroom and I feel this will help with my confidence as a teacher.

Throughout the week I attended different year groups of different streams and I found this greatly beneficial towards my experience. I could see the changes in teaching methods against the contrasting streams. I noticed how the teachers used very motivational language to encourage the pupils to work towards the grades they want to achieve. This is something which I am not used to in my past experience in schools as I have always worked/been in an environment where the whole class contains a vast range of mixed ability. 

 Different Teaching Styles

Something that really made a significant impact on me in contrast to Irish schools is the way the lessons were composed. The teachers do not work from the text book. Instead the power point presentations direct the class through the lesson. Learning is focused on the pupils and this is evident through the many activities that the teachers had organised to do in the lesson. The teacher was there to assist the pupils through their learning but not to lecture them, like in the Irish education system. The pupils were engaged in their learning. Discovery learning was practiced in the school. This is an area of teaching which I have studied at college but never experienced as a pupil myself. When I was in school the teachers were focused on the terminal exam and not on fun activities and group work to assist the pupils learning. The text book was the main focus of the lesson. Through the Kent teaching experience I have witnessed this first hand in the classroom and I have seen the beneficial impact it has on the pupils. When talking to the pupils during the lessons I discovered that they enjoy this style of learning, they find it helpful and more memorable. In some circumstances they prefer to learn from their peers. This is most certainty an aspect of teaching which I will incorporate into my future lessons.

Another element of the experience which contrasts greatly to schools in Ireland is the presents of lab attendants. I found this very helpful for the science teacher. With the presence of lab attendants the teacher could primarily focus on the lesson without worrying about lab preparation. In Ireland the teacher has to prepare the labs too. This is a great contrast in the education of science between the two countries.

 The Culture

I also like the way the pupils are divided up into communities in the school. This is an area which is not developed at all in Ireland. I felt that it gave pupils a sense of belonging and pride for their community. In this particular school the communities were differentiated by different school ties. It also gave the pupils an opportunity to mix with other year groups. As the communities were present within the school is was also another form of discipline. The communities were asked to deal with misbehaviour in the classroom on request. 

Another contrasting element which I discovered was the vast range of opportunities present for the older pupils of Westlands School such as hairdressing, childcare and brick laying. This was an aspect that I thought encouraged pupils to learn. It gave pupils who did not want to go to University an opportunity to develop their skills in areas which interest them. These are facilities which I have not experienced within secondary schools in Ireland.

What I Learned

Overall, I found the Kent teaching placement very educational and beneficial for me as a student teacher. This experience has definitely encouraged me to work in England in the future as a teacher. I feel that I have learnt valuable skills which I can develop and work on to improve my presence, teaching style and management of a classroom. I have taken away elements of the experience that hopefully will make me a more successful teacher. Finally, through shadowing experienced teachers I believe that I have learnt an abundance of skills which I hope to incorporate into my own teaching style. 

Changing to a teaching role in another country can be difficult but changing career to a teaching role at all is a challenge so here's 8 tips to survive your first year teaching!

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