Blog post

A day in the life of a trainee teacher

By Emma Illsley - 21 May 2020

When comparing my days in University with my days spent on teaching practice, they are, I think, very different.

To provide context, I am a current student on the three-year undergraduate Primary Education degree (B.Ed.). When I qualify, I will be awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) which means I am qualified to teach primary-aged pupils: children aged between five and eleven years of age.

Days in University can be varied – I may have a full day of lectures and workshops from 9am until 6pm (although generally, days finish at 4pm), or I could be in University for just an hour-long lecture and that’s it in terms of taught sessions for that whole day.

Typically, I arrive at University for around 8.30am to ensure I’m ready for my 9am session. However, if the library is operating their extended opening times (these operate at certain points throughout the year – typically when many other courses are in exam seasons), I may arrive a little earlier to do some work before my sessions. I’m definitely an early bird and prefer to start work in the mornings to allow my evenings to be free.

Lectures (or, as they’re sometimes known “leads”) are, in general, one hour long. However, due to the nature of this course, we probably only have one lead for each module per semester. These take place in lecture theatres across the University which all look pretty much the same. When you think of any university, a big lecture hall is usually what comes to my mind, “Leads” typically take place in one of these.

Much of the teaching on the Primary Education degree is done in workshops (or seminars) where the cohort is split into smaller groups, and sessions are taught in rooms like those you would find in a classroom. These workshops are typically a little longer than lectures (generally two or three hours long), as they allow for more in-depth discussions and research that is more collaborative in nature.

By comparison, lectures are conducted when information needs to be transmitted to the whole cohort. You may think that a three-hour lesson is a long time- I certainly did when I first started, but the time flies by as all of the sessions are so engaging! It would probably be a good idea to mention at this point- that all teaching on this course takes place at the Kedleston Road campus.

This is the largest campus the University of Derby has and we take advantage of all the facilities at this site. We use the newly-built Sports Centre for our PE sessions, the specialist teaching resources in the Kirtley Building, as well as all of the classroom suites across the rest of the University. In the morning, sessions normally run until around 12pm so at this point many people head to the Atrium (the main hub of the University) for lunch. There are lots of eating facilities here, Eat Central is the main ‘hub’ that most people tend to socialise at. We also have a Starbucks and Subway which are very popular.

Owned by the Union of Students, Blends is an extremely popular coffee shop and I can often be found here on some very comfy sofas, with my laptop, catching up on emails, or doing a bit of reading for an assignment. Also owned by the Union of Students, we also have the Academy Bar which is open during lunch hours.

As I mentioned previously, the Atrium is the main ‘hub’ of the University – there is always something going on for people to get involved in. Welcome Week events (formerly Freshers’ week) take place here in September and, during term time, we have market days where local traders set up their stalls here. There’s everything from chocolate brownies to doughnuts to locally handmade gifts!

Furthermore, the Keddies shop is based here (a newsagent-type shop that’s owned by the Union of Students), Blackwells book shop, hairdressers and the Careers and Employment Service hub. After this, it’s time to go back to sessions. In general, I only have one session in the afternoon, but this does vary. In addition, I may have a meeting with my Personal, Professional and Academic tutor (PPAT) or a meeting as part of my role as Student Representative. Generally, I’ll finish sessions and meetings between 3pm and 4pm and at this point, before going home, I like to head to the library to type up my notes from sessions – or to continue with an assignment. I prefer to spend more time on campus so that I don’t have to take much work home. However, every student has their own way of working and you have to do what works for you.

I hope this blog has proven useful in terms of a day in the life of a trainee teacher. This course is one of the best in the country and studying here is the best decision I made. I’ve not been asked to say that, I genuinely mean it!

About the author

Emma Illsley
Student - Primary Education with QTS

I am a student on the Primary Education degree with QTS. I have worked as a student ambassador, both for the university as a whole and as an ambassador for my course - part of this role involves supporting with applicant interview days and speaking to other students on the course, such students in their First Year of the degree.