Swimming in the deep end

In English we have a popular saying, ‘being thrown in the deep-end‘, this means that you were asked (or made!) to do something that you have not been prepared or trained to do. It is based on the feeling of being in the deep-end of a swimming pool without knowing how to swim. Often the coveted transferable skills the English Education system pursue are supposed prepare you for these situations. This week I (sort of) found myself in said situation.

One of the teachers of a class I work in regularly was absent due to sickness. Thankfully the school uses team teaching with a year group of 40 split into two classes of 20, so the introductions to lessons are typically done all together. The classes then break off into separate groups to work more specifically to their targets. The content was taught by the trained teacher, then we split off into classes and a trained learning support teacher and I oversaw the work and gave smaller group support.I had a few free periods so I acted as an extra body. 

That is until it came to the afternoon, when the absent teacher’s class were due to have P.E. Dressed in heeled sandals and a maxi skirt, I was unprepared to teach P.E. So I took the other class whilst their teacher took ‘mine’. Hello deep end. Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about the deep end. I do not see it as a bad thing, or something I am not prepared for, I have the transferable skills after all. But this was the first time I have been put in the deep end when it matters so much. Not particularly to that specific lesson: I was not teaching something tricky or superbly important to the children’s future and it was something they would cover again. But it was very important to me, because one day, I hope to become a teacher, and like, y’know a really really good one. Not only this but, I am now of an age when plenty of my friends or people my age are becoming teachers. They do the things that really truly make a difference to life and to little people…

It was both a blessing and an annoyance that I had a very limited time to deliver the lesson, because there was less time for something to go wrong but on the other hand a strict time constraint. Therefore, I did away with the theory, and just did the practical: making paper cup telephones! We were perhaps a bit late packing away, but they all managed to leave relatively in time.

I think in the situation, I coped with the deep end well and it was a fantastic experience and confirms to me that someday I would love to be a teacher.

What about you guys? When were you thrown in the deep end? And how did it go?


One thought on “Swimming in the deep end

  1. When I was 19 I moved into a new job as an assistant for the ‘technical manager’ in a powder metallurgy factory. I didn’t have any qualifications or experience and they weren’t offering me any training, but I loved science and technology and had been self-studying maths, physics and engineering for a year.

    They gave me a desk and a couple of books on the industry. I picked up a notepad and started making notes on every aspect of the manufacturing and logistical process by walking around and asking questions. I read through the books over lunch and consulted with my manager to learn the theory behind the product.

    In a couple of days I knew everything about the basic process and had nothing to do. No-one gave me any jobs although my boss had given me a demonstration of some of their software. I started reading the source code, and I used the internet to understand it. This was my first ever experience with writing code, but after three weeks I had written a new algorithm for searching through millions of possible combinations in the blink of an eye to find the optimum pre-mix at the start of the manufacturing process.

    I kept doing things beyond my capability but I didn’t feel the pressure to perform like you had. I had a few routine jobs (that I automated of course) and just worked on whatever I wanted the rest of the time, which was great! I struggle as much as everyone with a challenge but I get through it because
    – I have achieved everything I persisted at
    – I grow stronger every day when engaged in a struggle.

    I have no doubt that you will be a great teacher, and even if (when?) you screw up, it will not mean you are a failure. Let’s be honest, a couple of awkward and clumsy lessons is not enough to ruin a child’s education while a couple of thought-provoking lessons can stay with them forever.


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