Why would someone choose to teach? Why would they decide against a job in research? Maybe most importantly, why would they leave behind a strong support network of friends and family, and come all the way from Mullaghbawn in South Armagh to Nottingham?
As I looked back on the best bits of my biology degree, I realised that it wasn't the scientific investigations which I enjoyed the most, but instead being able to communicate science to other people. The real magic (or science?) is the light bulb you see going off when a concept clicks in a brain for the first time. Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, which I soon came to realise.
The experience of studying social science for the first time really blew my mind. The science behind learning, which is really neuroscience coupled with psychology and animal behaviour, provided a fresh research challenge to me. Doing readings for the PGCE and then seeing theories lived out the next day in the classroom allowed me to quickly get to grips with teaching theory.
Talking about the PGCE course is not complete without mentioning the other trainee teachers. The network of support which a PGCE provides, in terms of peers with a very diverse set of strengths, is phenomenal. You don't complete the PGCE on your own, but instead work as a team to reach the finish! Don't feel like you'll ever walk alone.
Now after that encouragement, here is some advice. Sign up for all of the extra experiences along the way! These will make the course for you and, in time, your teaching CV. For me, these have included the opportunity to spend a week seeing an Ofsted 'Outstanding' special school and also being able to observe lessons by genius practitioners at my placement schools.
The whole year has been a whirlwind of new ideas, places and people. It is only now as I head to collect the timetable for my new school that I realise that I'm almost a qualified teacher! Things which I've learned include how to facilitate great lessons; how to co-operate with teaching colleagues (and parents!) and how to be critical and analytical of teaching theories.
I would recommend this course to anyone and everyone. It will develop you as a facilitator, a leader and a mentor of young people. I hope to see you soon in a Nottinghamshire school.