PGCE English 2013/14
English has always been my greatest passion, but I considered several different career options during my time at Warwick University.
During my gap year, however, I decided teaching was the right path for me and from the first week on the PGCE course when I met the excellent course tutors and had my first day in school, I knew I had made the right decision in choosing to come to the University of Nottingham to train to teach.
The university-based days have been consistently exceptional and an invaluable opportunity to share and reflect on teaching experiences. The tutors exude passion for teaching and for English, which creates a positive environment for learning in which each student teacher's contribution is valued. I've particularly enjoyed the way in which tutors model good practice and the opportunity to see good teaching "in action" at university and then apply this to my own teaching.
I expected to learn a lot about teaching on my PGCE, and I certainly have, but I didn't expect my subject knowledge to increase and deepen as much as it has done thanks to the inspiring teaching of the subject tutors.
I had two main placements at the Minster School and South Nottinghamshire Academy in which I was supported to develop as a teaching practitioner through regular meetings and feedback from mentors and university tutors.
I've also been given the opportunity to get involved in a great deal of additional experiences. As a member of the Special Education Needs interest group, I was invited to spend a week at a school for boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties, which was a truly illuminating and rewarding experience.
Along with other students, I've been involved in organising a Carnegie Day with activities for local school children and coordinating the PGCE English Poetry Slam. I have also been a member of the PGCE English Book Club in which we discuss a different children's book each month, and have attended extra grammar sessions provided by one of the tutors to help students extend their subject knowledge. There are so many opportunities to get involved in experiences beyond the classroom and I would urge future students to take advantage of these wherever possible.
I secured my first teaching post at the West Bridgford School after receiving supportive application guidance from tutors at Nottingham. This year I've been supported and challenged every step of the way on what has been one of the best experiences of my life.
PGCE English 2012/13
My intention has always been to work with young people with special educational needs in some capacity.
I had worked at a play scheme for young people with special educational needs during school holidays for several years, and, as I came to the end of my degree, which was in English and creative writing, I decided that I would like to be a teacher.
My expectations of the course were limited; I knew it was going to be hard work, and that I would be a teacher at the end of it, but other than that I had little idea about what the course entailed! What it did entail was a lot of hard work, a few tears, a lot of laughter and, on passing, a huge amount of pride.
The course catered for my own interests in special educational needs, and the tutors, whilst supporting my preferences, also encouraged me to keep a foot in the mainstream door. This approach was perfect, and I enjoyed my placements in both mainstream and special needs schools.
My teaching practice was at Oak Field Special School, and was a fantastic experience. There was a steep learning curve, but I met some fantastic members of staff and some wonderful pupils there.
It was a juggling act at times to teach and complete the academic side of the course simultaneously, but I managed to get to Friday afternoon in one piece every week and that - some weeks - is as much as you can hope for! The support I received was invaluable and, without the support of my mentor and tutors at the University, I would not have reached the end of the course.
The university-based days were also good, as re-grouping and sharing ideas with my peers was such an important aspect of the course. It was crucial for me to discuss things with the other trainee teachers, as I was in a special needs school I could occasionally feel slightly out of the loop with assessments and things, but I realised that good teaching is good teaching no matter what the ability of your pupils, and interesting and exciting ideas for any classroom are so important to share.
I now teach in a school for students with special educational needs and educational behaviour difficulties, exactly the type of school that I wanted to be when I applied for my PGCE.