“Reggie was, and is, the most positive person I have ever met and is an inspiration to everyone”
Trainee teachers have been instrumental in supporting classroom learning during the period of Covid-19, and it is wonderful that NASBTT is gathering and sharing the stories of ‘hero trainees’ as well as the perspectives of ITT providers.
My nomination is Reggie Binder, who trained in modern foreign languages at Hedingham School, was diagnosed with breast cancer around Christmas time and has been receiving treatment ever since. Despite this, she managed to successfully complete the ITT course whilst also delivering online lessons for her school.
The sorts of activities that Reggie would regularly do were supporting students in small group situations with their learning, whether it was preparing for GCSEs or any of her other classes that she would normally teach if she were in school. Reggie took great pleasure in creating innovative resources that would help students with their understanding of languages and would always go the extra mile more to support any student who needed her expertise.
Students responded very positively, and it was clear that they made progress because of fun activities that checked their understanding and subsequent progress in their learning. Reggie’s mentor would regularly express how pleased she was with the support and guidance that her students were receiving at the same time as she was going through her chemotherapy.
It is testimony to Reggie that she also used her seamstress skills (she used to be a tailor) to sew scrubs for the NHS and make bespoke face masks for all of the Mid-Essex Initial Teacher Training (MEITT) team whilst experiencing a really challenging time herself. This highlights the incredible selfless acts that Reggie would do.
Throughout their training placements, our 2019-20 trainees remained at the school that they had been working with and continued to support the school, colleagues and students. Without trainees such as Reggie taking their lessons there would have been a significant increase in the workload and other members of staff during this unprecedented time. She was fortunate enough to have several of her peers at her placement school so she could share experiences and gather advice to support her students. All trainees were always in close contact with MEITT and suitable online courses, training, resources and tasks were given so that they were able to meet the teachers’ standards in a different way than in normal circumstances.
At times, trainees maybe do not receive enough credit in the media for the impact that they have on a variety of stakeholders at school, but the schools and MEITT realise their role and greatly appreciate the work that they are doing for all concerned. It is vital that trainees are key workers as they support schools, colleagues and students in many different ways. This ranges from teaching remote lessons, creating resources or small group activities in preparation for final assessments. This is sometimes overlooked, but they do an amazing job.
The training year is a very challenging one indeed as you are trying to learn a profession in a very intense period with lots of jargon and different ways of working. Coupled with this, teenagers are unique and need support and guidance that is gained over time working in secondary schools. The pandemic added to people’s mental health challenges as it is something that we have never experienced and affected everyone in different ways.
To successfully complete the ITT year with these challenges is impressive enough let alone going through the journey of dealing with breast cancer and the significant time spent in and out of hospital. Reggie was, and is, the most positive person I have ever met and is an inspiration to everyone.
Keith Ferguson is Mid-Essex Initial Teacher Training Course Tutor at Notley High School