Once upon a simpler time, way back at the beginning of our training year, my fellow English trainees and I had the pleasure of observing a KS3 lesson on grammar. As the children bundled into the classroom they were each given a placard, thus becoming a different part of speech: verb, noun, adjective, preposition, etc. The aim of the game was for them to organise themselves into sentences, but when we arrived on the scene our eyes were met with quite a different spectacle: there was a noun on the floor being administered first aid by a helpful adjective; a group of personal pronouns talking about themselves; a pair of conjunctions holding hands in the corner; an interjection looking shocked; a gang of adverbs relentlessly, mercilessly and gleefully chasing a verb around the room – and there were prepositions all over the shop: on the tables, under the tables, in the cupboard, behind the door… It was absolute carnage, but at least it was grammatically correct carnage.
There are two reasons why I will never forget this lesson. One, it made grammar stimulating and engaging and would surely have been graded ‘outstanding’. Two, it was a perfect example of a day in the life of a teacher. Yes, it was chaotic. Yes, it was unpredictable. Yes, it was exhausting. But by Gove – sorry, by Jove – the teacher knew exactly what kind of journey she wanted to take her pupils on and she made sure that they all reached their destination. In that sense, this lesson also represents a year in the life of a trainee. The past 12 months have also been a journey. It has been chaotic, it has been unpredictable, it has been exhausting – but we’ve made it. Together. I’d like to thank everyone who helped us along the way. I’d also like to propose a grammatically correct roadmap for future trainees on how to make it – and avoid the carnage:
Verb – Teaching is a doing word: you learn by doing (and by getting things wrong)
Noun – Education, education, education… Only joking, it’s all about biscuits, biscuits, biscuits
Adjective – It never gets easy, but it does get easier
Adverb – Teaching is the verb: find the adverb that’s right for you – how do you want to teach?
Pronoun – Allow yourself a bit of me time
Preposition – You will never stay ahead, but don’t let yourself fall behind
Conjunction – Work together, plan together, moan together
Interjection – Um! Sorry! Excuse me! Ask for help
Matt Irwin, English Trainee Teach - now NQT !