A Teach First Graduate writes…

Lorenzo McLellan is a graduate of the Teach First programme and a teacher at West Drayton Primary School. This blog originally featured on the Teach First website.
I am a year 5 teacher in West London, now mid way through an ever more enjoyable second year of the Teach First programme. At last, I am beginning to feel a reassuring confidence when I step up in front of the class, when I prepare and deliver my lessons and when I seek to resolve the trials and tribulations of children on the cusp of entering into adolescence: almost as if, I’m beginning to feel, dare I say it, like a teacher.
Of the many factors which have helped me on my way to getting where I am, one of the more significant points has been the acknowledgement that I, as indeed any teacher, cannot do everything (as much as we may doggedly try to convince ourselves otherwise). I learned quickly that rather than chastise ourselves for our weaknesses, we should celebrate our strengths and likewise those of others.
It is for this reason that I would like to briefly celebrate the tremendous strength of a most impressive organisation called now>press>play: an initiative which aims to engage children through the innovative use of media.
Once a topic has been chosen (in my case ‘Ancient Egypt’ which my year 5 class was studying in the Autumn Term), now>press>play present the children with a selection of wireless headphones through which a story is narrated. Then the children, themselves, following simple instructions delivered throughout the narrative, become protagonists.
My year 5 class awoke as young scribes on the River Nile who were promptly summoned to join the Pharaoh. We travelled down the Nile, witnessing the stunning vistas of Ancient Egypt until at last we reached the grand palace. We learned how to scribe hieroglyphics before being informed that we had been presented with the honour of following our great pharaoh into his tomb! Having carried out the process of mummification on each other, we finally followed our leader as he journeyed through to the after life, eventually to be judged against the feather of truth… all in an hour!!!
It was an hour the children will never forget; an hour which brought to life for them the half term’s topic work I had prepared, in a way which quite frankly I could never have achieved in such a direct and engaging manner.
So, to anyone keen to draw on the incredible pool of initiatives and projects which lie beyond the classroom, in order to enhance their own strengths and their pupils’ learning in the bargain, I would unreservedly recommend they start with now>press>play.
– Lorenzo McLellan, West Drayton Primary School