A Week in the Life of a Primary Trainee by Harriet Munday

28 January 2022 |

For me, Mondays are usually my independent university study day. This is so I can get my three consecutive days in school including my PPA with my lead mentor on a Thursday morning. I start my Monday with an early morning run so that I can get stuck into my study feeling energised.


With the university work there is generally a mix of reading articles, completing reflections and listening to lectures on the topic of the week. I tend to intersperse the lectures with reading and copious amounts of tea! Filling in my reflections using the university model allows me to take the information from lectures and articles and consider how this is going to help develop my teaching practise.


Tuesday mornings see me arrive at school before 8am, as long as I don’t meet too many tractors en-route! When I arrive on a Tuesday morning it feels like I’ve been out of school for about two weeks. I have a quick catch-up with my class teacher (lead mentor) to get up to date with how the children’s learning has gone since I was last in school. Then it’s a mad rush to the photocopier alongside all the other teaching staff! Children arrive from 8:40am for some early morning work whilst registration takes place until 9am. Morning lessons run until 12noon with a break from 10:45 until 11:00, these generally consist of core English and Maths as well as handwriting, group reading. Isn’t it just the best feeling when the children are asking ‘are you teaching us maths today?’ and at the end of the lesson don’t want to go to lunch for love of learning. What could be more rewarding than that? Lunch time is a chance to sit down and refuel- well, maybe after a quick lesson debrief with my mentor and mark the last few books I didn’t get around to during the lesson. Tuesday afternoons are our Science afternoon so will some weeks I will teach, some weeks observe my class being taught, other weeks I get out and around the school observe excellent teaching practise. End of the day comes on a Tuesday and that feeling of being absent from school is long behind me as we look forward to the next 2 days.


First thing on a Wednesday is a staff briefing led by the senior team, running through any whole school notices. By midway through Wednesday it feels like my awfully short week in school is nearly over. My focus for Wednesdays is generally to put into practise any techniques I have observed on the Tuesday into my own teaching. It’s not just the children that can have the visible light-bulb moments, my mentor has witnessed me having those whilst teaching. In the moments I am not teaching the class, I contemplate where I can go to observe, and undoubtedly pinch some ideas to try for myself! In my teaching things are starting to feel a lot more natural and I am able to really focus on what is going to make a huge impact on the children’s learning. The best moments, for me, are when the children are as excited about something as I am. For example when introducing the geography topic population, the children absolutely loved watching the world population clock changing and couldn’t wait for me to put it back on at the end of the lesson whilst they were getting their home-time things.


Most of the morning on a Thursday is our planning morning as a year group. We are in a fortunate position that there are 3 classes that all plan together. This means that there are lots of ideas (and biscuits) around the room, making for some really engaging lesson content for our children. It is really crucial to be able to have the quality conversations with the teachers and understand how they plan a sequence of lessons and the best pedagogical methods for each element. After 2 and a half hours of planning, it’s straight back into lessons with the class until lunch time. This transition can be a tough one as you go from planning lessons for the following week, to delivering something from last weeks planning time. By the end of Thursday I can honestly say I’m exhausted. I often ask myself why, as I’m not yet teaching full time. However, I then remember that when I am teaching I am also learning and when I am not teaching, I am still learning through observations and conversations with my mentor.


Friday’s are our trainee morning at Okehampton. We have sessions delivered to us in line with the university focus of the week with our ITE coordinator or some of the fantastic members of staff from Okehampton Primary School. These sessions are incredibly useful for the real-life reflection and relevance of the academic side of teaching. These mornings also give us a chance to talk together as a group of trainees, supporting each other through assignments, tricky situations that may occur in placement schools and general wellbeing.

Harriet Munday, Primary School Direct trainee, Okehampton Primary