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A day in the life of a trainee Primary School teacher

Have you ever wondered what a typical day in a primary school is like? Second-year Primary Education with QTS student, Bethany, kept a diary of one day on her recent placement.

Bethany Mallett

5:30am I’m up out of bed to get myself prepared for the day. Make my lunch, make myself look presentable and head out of the door before the rush. Did I forget my memory stick? I check my bag for the fourth time before stepping out the door! Got it? Great, let’s go. 

8am I arrive at my placement school, with lesson plans prepared on memory sticks, lunch in my bag and a head ready to take on the day.

8:05am I get into my Year 3 classroom and start to prepare a checklist in my head of any resources, photocopying, printing or additional classroom organising I have yet to do. I feel it’s easier to do my printing and sorting out of resources in the morning as I can go over my plans again and make any changes needed based on the resources I have available (if I’ve not had to buy them or create them already). 

8:30am Once each of my tasks have been set for the day, I can make myself a drink and head into the Staff Room for morning briefing. This will consist of any visitors in the day, special announcements or activities that have been set. Other teachers can then volunteer to help if needed and it ensures everyone has had the same information so there’s no miscommunication across the school. 

8:45am The pupils have started to arrive. I greet them coming into the classroom after putting coats on pegs and checking and changing reading books. Then the pupils start with their morning brainteaser, which helps them to put their thinking caps on and get ready to learn. I help to go around the classroom and check how each of the children are, which results in some very exciting stories about everything from ice cream to cartoons! 

Primary classroom

9:00am Our lessons have begun. We normally will start with required lessons: Maths and English. As a teacher I could be teaching the pupils anything from the National Curriculum, from telling the time or showing them long division, to focusing on creating storyboards or learning poetry skills. 

The best way to make my lessons flow is to be as creative and engaging as possible as the pupils respond really well and it becomes really rewarding. I like to make it fun for myself, as you remember some of the nostalgia from being a pupil at school!

Some of the pupils can really struggle with their Maths and English skills, this can be due to special educational needs or because they are still learning. So when I overhear a pupil remembering a method I taught them from the week before, I get such a rush of pride.  You realise your hard work is helping these pupils every day, and knowing that method could help them for the rest of their lives gives me so much motivation to make my lessons better and to keep learning.

10:30am Break time and teachers have the chance to either race down and get a drink and a snack, or get ahead or marking or prepare the classroom on for the next lesson. 

10:45am Children come back in and can now focus on their topic lessons. This is when all the foundation subjects are put into a particular topic. Ours happened to be 'Scrumdiddlyumptious', which was all about sweets, chocolate and designing. During my lesson we learnt exactly where chocolate came, from the cocoa bean to the finished chocolate bar.

We then did some crazy experiments both in the classroom and outside - such as the Mentos and cola, layering food coloured water, the hot water and skills experiment and a much more. This helps to encourage pupils curiosity about science and what might have happened, as well as learning about different sweets. 

Trainee teachers in discussion

12:15pm Lunchtime! Pupils are taken, supervised, to the playground and wait to be called for their lunch. If not on duty, it’s the perfect time to relax, finish some marking and tidy up the classroom for my next lessons. Teachers in the staff room are super helpful, working together to help me find ways to change my teaching strategies or improve my lessons. Having a supportive network gives me confidence to find ways to make lessons more exciting and fun where they could otherwise get boring – for me and the pupils!

1pm Pupils are back in the classroom with an afternoon brainteaser to refocus their minds, calming them back down and get the noise levels back to a learning level! My favourite is to give them random letters and see how many words or the longest word they can make. There are some pupils I could see having potential on Channel 4’s Countdown programme!

Then it’s time for the afternoon lessons which I make sure are more relaxed to make sure I don’t send 30 hyperactive children home to their parents or guardians! Today we focused on working on morals and consequence in relation to the story of Icarus. This helped to link to our R.E lessons to do with learning about Jesus and his teachings. Once we all had written about the moral of the story and the consequences, we all sat together, and read two chapters of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. 

3:00pm HOME TIME! Once we’ve said our prayers, the children get their bags and are finished for the day.

3:05-5:00pm The perfect time for me to focus on marking and assessing my planning that I had for the day. I also use the time to photocopy any evidence I need for my folders or for any assessments and assignments.  I also meet with my class teacher on how I did with my day and tidy up any unused resources. 

6:15pm I manage to get home just before rush hour gets really bad and grab a quick dinner as I was sensible enough to get some chicken curry out of the freezer this morning to let it defrost! 

7:00pm Time to get back to any additional planning for the next day or two, meaning lesson plans, PowerPoint slides, quiz worksheets, and resources, as well as making differentiated worksheets and other resources for those pupils in my class who need them. I fill in any feedback forms that I’ve not done already and get them sent off to be double-checked by my class teacher. 

9:30pm Everything finished, I can finally relax and get ready for bed knowing I’m all prepared to spend another day shaping children’s minds! 

Trainee teachers in subject pedagogy session on campus

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