On the final day of my PGCE course, we were asked to bring in a photo that showed ourselves at about the time that we decided to pursue a career in teaching. My photo looked rather different to the majority around me; I found myself surrounded by people who had dreamt of being a teacher from a very young age, whereas I myself had developed a passion for teaching during my time at university.
I studied a masters degree in mathematics at the University of Nottingham, and during this time deepened both a love of my subject as well as a love for the University itself. I had worked with young people a lot throughout my life, through both football coaching and working with young people at my church, and this combination lead me to realise that teaching was a career that I would really enjoy, whilst being one that would also really challenge me and allow me to have a positive influence on the lives of many.
I therefore applied to the PGCE course at the University of Nottingham, and can honestly say that it has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things that I have ever done.
The course is structured in such a way that it encourages you to grapple with your own philosophy of what education should look like, giving you the flexibility to develop into the kind of teacher that you want to be, whilst also offering lots of practical guidance along the way.
The quality and variety of the University-based sessions made the course so enjoyable; the sessions ranged from deeply thought-provoking lectures to interactive games where we considered the best ways to teach mathematics to people who often consider it a dull and difficult subject.
The course also enabled me to have a really broad range of experiences; I had the experience of teaching in a high-achieving private school, teaching in a comprehensive which posed more than its fair share of challenges, and helping in a school specifically for pupils with special educational needs.
Each of these proved to be so valuable in my development as a teacher, and the support provided by the PGCE tutors throughout the course was genuinely outstanding. The expectations of tutors are high, to encourage you to be the best that you can, but long hours of lesson planning quickly become worth it when you get to know your pupils and enable them to sense achievement in your lessons.
I am now a few years into my teaching career, and the journey so far has definitely been both very rewarding and challenging. Since becoming fully qualified, I have worked in two comprehensive schools in Nottingham, whilst also taking a year out to volunteer in Zimbabwe. I am so grateful for the way in which this variety of experiences has developed me as a teacher! I have had classes ranging from Year 7 set 4 through to A level Further Maths, whilst also having the opportunity to learn from many inspiring teachers around me. My experience in Zimbabwe was a very special one – a church in Harare had set up a school where their aim was to educate the most vulnerable students from the local area, and train up local people to teach them. I was given the opportunity to structure their maths curriculum, as well as developing a training programme for the teachers in maths. This brought me back to considering my own philosophies regarding teaching that had been explored in depth during my PGCE, and it is something that I am still now trying to develop. The nice thing about being a few years into teaching, is that I have taught the vast majority of topics at least once now, but the challenge remains to continue building on my previous ideas and to learn from past mistakes, to make my teaching as effective as possible. I still thoroughly enjoy the variety that each day brings and the challenge of engaging students in a fruitful way, and the supportive maths departments that I have been a part of have certainly made it all the more fulfilling along the way!