School Direct Secondary 2013/14
Working with children was always something that I had wanted to do since I was at school myself. Before I started the School Direct course for secondary English, I had worked in a secondary school as a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant (TA) for two years.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a TA and would not be the teacher I am today without having had that experience, as it opened my eyes to the difficulties that some students face on a daily basis. However, I knew that I wanted to have more responsibility, so, after speaking to some of the teachers at my school, I applied for this course.
I knew that it would be demanding so I braced myself for the challenges that lay ahead and I was right; teacher training is hard work. However, it is also extremely rewarding, exciting and so much fun; I could not possibly think of a better career!
Teaching English is a role that demands a lot from you, as every student studies it at Key Stages 3 and 4,and therefore there is a lot of planning and marking involved. However, it is also a brilliantly broad subject that allows you to teach different skills, meaning that every day is different and more often than not, there is an element of English that most students enjoy!
The students make what can be a stressful job into one that is exuberant and a pleasure to be a part of. If I am having a bit of a stressful day, all I have to do is speak to a child in my tutor group and my worries instantly go away! They really do make it the best job in the world.
The other side of this course involves attending university-taught days, generally once a week, throughout the academic year. The course is varied and offers valuable advice and information, informing your teaching practice and developing your techniques as the year progresses.
It is also enjoyable to have a break from school and catch up with your friends from other schools, allowing you to share stories and swap lesson plan ideas!
I have now secured a position as teacher of English at the school where I trained, which is great as I already know a lot of the staff and students. I feel fully prepared to start my NQT year, as I have learnt so much from this course and I know that the University will continue to support me next year, with NQT courses and seminars. I can't wait to embark on this challenging, yet rewarding career as an English teacher!
School Direct Secondary 2013/14
My teaching journey began in 2011 when I took on a role as a Cover Supervisor at Quarrydale Academy, Sutton-in-Ashfield. I had just completed a masters degree in science and was keen to get the 'feel' of working in a school and gain some experience before applying for teacher training.
After my first year at Quarrydale I became a Learning Mentor in the sixth form alongside my cover duties. These jobs enabled me to develop ideas regarding different learning styles and different needs of pupils.
I feel that my two years' experience in a school was essential for me before starting my teacher training as I had already gained a confident classroom manner and was aware of behaviour and learning challenges that could happen on a day-to-day basis. The Head Teacher at Quarrydale encouraged me to apply to do my teacher training at Quarrydale and knowing that he had this faith in me and wanted me to train at his school gave me further confidence and gave me faith in myself and that actually yes, I can do this!
Since starting the School Direct course I feel that I have improved so much not only as a teacher but also as a learner - teaching is a constant learning experience; learning from other staff and from the pupils. I knew before starting the course that it was going to be a lot of work; but I was still astounded by the amount of work when I did start. I couldn't fathom how teachers plan for 20+ lessons a week and still have a life!
After a few weeks of finding my feet and prioritising the workload I realised that it is possible to do both. After a few months on the course I looked back at old lessons plans and thought 'it took hours to write that?!' I realised how much my planning had developed and how it now comes more naturally to me.
For future students, you will feel overwhelmed by the workload, and the hours involved in planning but it DOES get easier! I realised quite early on how important it is to ensure that lessons are differentiated for pupils' needs, how essential it is be organised and plan lessons with a variety of activities that make science fun and interesting for the pupils but that also show progression in a lesson. These are what I would say are like a checklist for me when planning lessons.
When a job vacancy came up at Quarrydale, I jumped at the chance to apply for it as I absolutely love the school; the staff are so supportive of the pupils and bend over backwards to aid their learning. This was the kind of place I wanted to teach in.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my School Direct year and cannot wait to start my teaching post at Quarrydale in September. I have made some great friends and colleagues on the course who I know I will continue to share ideas and experiences with in the future.
School Direct Secondary 2013/14
My pathway into teaching isn't quite what you would expect if there is such a concept as 'normal'. I graduated university with a degree in accountancy before moving into managing licensed premises for a national pub chain for several years.
I was involved in all aspects of running a business from recruitment and stock management through to HR roles and budgeting. In time I took on additional roles to support the organisation within a larger geographical area, performing training and induction sessions for new and existing staff. This was a turning point for me as I got my first taste of a teaching environment - and I loved it!
From here it was one thing after another. I researched teaching following a suggestion by my partner who recognised my new found interest in training. The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to do it, so I moved on to starting the application process to become a maths teacher through the School Direct route.
I chose this route into teaching as my own enjoyment of learning was in a more hands-on role alongside theory and the School Direct route combines these factors in a harmony which works for me. I could spend four days a week in the school building experience from day one, supporting this with university-based sessions on a Friday.
This balance means you can constantly develop and try new things, discuss and share them with your peers, then adapt and change the following week setting up a cycle of dialogue. Not only were peer discussions of high value but the university tutor input was second to none. My tutor knew more about me than I did and this shows the commitment tutors make to your development.
One of the most crucial factors is that the course and tutors aim to produce unique and individual teachers, with your own personality shining through your style of teaching. It is about what works for you with personalised development plans for all trainees. There is no 'set way' of learning how to teach, it is a journey with many junctions and you should follow the path you think is right for you with the key being your reflections of the choices you make and what you may or may not change going forward.
I started looking into a job and before I knew it, I had secured a job at Landau Forte Academy in Tamworth. Even better was that they asked me to start immediately following course completion so I had two weeks at the end of the academic year to settle in before starting my NQT year.
If anyone asked me whether the dramatic career change I made was the right decision, I would answer without question, YES. The only other thing I know for certain is that I am glad I was able to make that change based at the University of Nottingham.