“You don’t have to answer me now, just think about what I am about to say to you and come back to me with an answer when you’re ready. You completed your induction year in Year 5, and have worked really well in the two years since in Year 4. We have been really pleased with your progress, and want to help you gain as much experience as you can. How do you feel about moving to Year 2?”
I’m a man. To a certain extent, there is a stigma that comes along with that when working in a primary school. People tend to make assumptions when they think of males in the primary school. Often men have the Physical Education curriculum thrust upon them, are expected to be expert disciplinarians and tend to find themselves working with the older pupils in the school. To a certain extent, when training I had fit the mould of this description and upon taking up my position at my current school I was happy to slip into Year 5 and take on sporting extra-curricular activities. This was very much within my comfort zone. KS1 had never really been on my periphory, it might as well have been in another world. After completing the obligatory KS1 placement on the first of four years of my initial teacher training, schools were keen to see me complete my other placements in the upper reaches of KS2. As my placements grew in length, I found myself placed in Year 4, Year 5 and finally Year 6. Even in the pressure cooker of Year 6 SATs, I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing and felt largely comfortable. This ensured that in my short career in KS2, I have been developing well within my comfort zone. And so, seemingly from absolutely nowhere…
“How do you feel about working in Year 2?”
My bubble burst.
I suppose, rather selfishly, my first thoughts were of my own progression and how helpful such a move would be to my own career. Having already had one eye on a possible future in school leadership and knowing that my headteacher supports me fully in this (it was her idea and she is guiding me down that road), experience in KS1 will undoubtedly stand me in good stead for the future. It will also force me to learn how to teach phonics and adapt my practice to meet the needs of a much younger and more demanding group of pupils. I will learn new skills and teaching strategies that will make me a much better teacher in years to come. Both in terms of my professional development, and my future aspirations, there is the potential for great growth in the coming years due to such a move. When I allowed myself time to mull it over, I then began to consider what it would mean for the pupils. For them, they will have their first experience of working with a male. I cannot recall the last time (if ever) a male has taught in KS1 in my school. There is no reason to believe that the pupils wont react positively to working with a man, and I actively do what I can to ensure that I am positive role model for all the pupils who I work with. They will also have a young(ish), (relatively) energetic and hard-working teacher who will do all he can to ensure they develop to the best of their ability.
So what is the problem? Well, there are SATs. There are children much smaller and more immature than I have ever taught before. There are parent’s who, during their experience, have never had a male teach in the infant section of their school before and may come with preconceived attitudes towards me. There is no time to settle in, as in Year 2 results are expected from the get go and excuses matter little and there is the fear of being completely out of my depth.
I firmly believe that teachers should remove themselves from their comfort zones once in a while in order to stay fresh and to ensure they don’t fall into the pit of routine and becoming stuck in a year group. I had made my decision before leaving the room that day, and agreed to the move almost instantly. Upon seeking reassurance that I had made the right choice, a good friend of mine advised me that there is no growth in comfort, and I agree with that sentiment hugely. However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have apprehensions about the road again and so I ask for your advice. Have you moved to teach outside your comfort zone? Do you have any dos/don’ts? How can you help enable a smooth progression for yourself? Do I have anything to be worried about? Is there anything I can do to minimise disruption to routines or structures?
Thanks in advance,