Going on placement
Going on placement can be daunting, but it can also be a lot of fun. Placement gives you the opportunity to put into practise all of the skills you’ve learnt and find your feet in the classroom. Here are a few tips to help along in your placement.
Before you begin
• Research your school and find out as much about it as you can. Talk to other students, lecturers and your Student Education Society to build up a picture of what to expect.
• Visit the Education Scotland website www.educationscotland.gov.uk that contains all the HMI reports and general information on education authorities.
• Arrange with your mentor or Head Teacher to visit the school prior to commencing your placement. Use the opportunity to find out which classes you will teach and their level as well as the conventions and policies of the school. You should also ask how teachers should be addressed by pupils and when the break and lunch times are.
• Get a copy of the school’s staff handbook and behaviour policy.
• Find out how long it takes to travel to the school and what the best route is.
• First impressions count so make sure you arrive on time and have your school and mentor contact details with you in case of an emergency.
• Dress appropriately. You should look smart but stay practical because you need to feel comfortable when you’re working with children.
• Smile and introduce yourself to your new colleagues. This may seem difficult if you are nervous, but remember they have all been through the same thing before and will be happy to help you settle in.
• Try to learn your pupil’s names quickly. One good way to help remember them is to take a class register.
Throughout your placement
• Always ask questions. If you are unsure of how to set up equipment or how you should deal with a particular issue, your colleagues and your mentor will be able to help.
• Keep a personal diary of your placement so that you can record the skills and techniques you have used successfully. A diary is also an excellent way of enabling you to write about your experiences and self-evaluate.
• Regularly update your School Experience File and offer it to your tutor to review. If you keep this organised then you will avoid trying to remember old lesson plans and having to write last minute updates.
• Keep a good work/life balance. Schools are busy places and it is important that you have some relaxation time. If you go to the gym or the cinema normally, then make sure you keep going. Organise your time effectively so that you don’t get caught up in your work. If you are a happy and enthusiastic teacher, your class will also be happy and more productive.
• If you become ill you should inform your school as well as your University tutor immediately.
• Remember to behave appropriately if you find yourself socialising in a place where pupils at your school or their parents may be.
• JOIN THE EIS. It is FREE for students and for up to 16 months of probation and if you need advice we are always available. The EIS have rep or contact in every school in Scotland so there is always someone local to help, and by becoming a member you will also be covered for any legal protection you need while on placement.