The day I had an interview for the school I am currently working in, my Grandma sent me a good luck message stating ‘you were born a teacher and today your hopes will be realised.’ Thinking back on it now, I suppose I always did like playing teacher but I think what grabbed me most about the profession was being able to work with young children every day and see them develop and enhance their skills, not only in learning but also in their personal, social: the list is endless.
During my time as an undergraduate I volunteered as a reading helper two times a week and it was during this time that I knew for sure that teaching was the profession for me. After completing an English Literature degree I applied for the Primary PGCE at Newcastle University and this is where my learning journey began.
THE COURSE – TAUGHT SESSIONS AND COURSEWORK
At the start of the PGCE we were told by many lectures that it would be a particularly challenging term. Not only would we be completing lectures and assignments but alongside that we would be experiencing our first teaching placement. For some it proved too much and in the first month I did see some people decide the PGCE was not for them. The first term for me was definitely the most challenging, purely because there was so much to do and you really learnt how you had to manage your time. I felt the lectures supported me but the real experience of course was being in the classroom on placement.
The second term proved to be very different and much less hectic. I learnt more about the Foundation subjects. And there was a great opportunity to share experiences so far with peers. Assignments along the way allowed me to put what I had learnt down on paper. It also gave me an opportunity to further research different topics. The final term involved the longest placement of the year and it was during these weeks that I learnt so much and was also able to refer to things taught in lectures and seminars.
THE COURSE – SCHOOL PLACEMENTS
I learnt so much during my three placements. In all my placements I had supportive mentors who were always there to answer questions I had. I first got observed by a head teacher and my teacher mentor. I completed a science lesson for a mixed Year ¾ class and it was really bad. I had so much going on and crammed in so much into one lesson. I recall receiving the feedback after the lesson and kept telling myself don’t get down about it, this is going to make you a better teacher and I believe it did. In my final observation it was a completely different story. To this day I still get quite nervous about observations but in each one I learn so much.
I was quite keen on experiencing teaching in London and for this reason I moved down South. I hadn’t secured a job when I moved so I decided to do supply work. Initially it was quite daunting but in under two months I worked in twelve different schools, working with different children in completely different environments. One school for me particularly stood out and when a position was advertised I applied and got the job.
Interviews can be quite a nerve-racking experience but if you can (and have the time) visit the school beforehand and ask questions you may have during this time. I would also read up about the school. Are there any recent initiatives that have been implemented or has there been a recent OFSTED inspection? The school I applied for had recently opened a Children’s Centre and I was able to incorporate this into some of my answers.
Having your own class truly does make a difference. You learn so much every day and you come to realise that the title of ‘class teacher’ encompasses many skills including office Clerk, nurse and good Christmas party organiser. It is coming up to my third year of teaching now and it’s gone so quickly. Along the way I have had the opportunity to work with brilliant children and great teachers and support staff.
With the introduction of the new EYFS document I have seen many changes occur in the Reception year group. I have also had the opportunity to carry my class up to Year 1 this term and implement a more child initiated provision in the first term of Year 1. Last year I decided to complete a Masters in Practitioner Enquiry at The University of Newcastle. This has again tested my time management skills but it has allowed me to see what happens in my classroom in a different way, challenging me even more.
Filza did her PGCE in Primary Education at Newcastle University and volunteered to write about her experiences for MERIT.