My journey into school teaching

Your career path is something that’s completely unique to you. You don’t have to follow the norm and graduate with a first from uni just to be successful. Sometimes life takes you in a different direction and that ends up being exactly what you needed. Read Oceantide’s story to see what we’re on about.

True Stories

A young person is considering their journey into teaching. This is a wide-angle image.

Initial steps into school teaching

I should probably let you know a bit about myself before I tell you my teaching story. 

I’m a university student who is interested in a career as a primary school teacher. To get there, I wanna do a primary PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) qualification. The only thing that’s stopping me is that I’ve heard that there’s stiff competition for PGCE courses. In fact, I couldn’t even consider applying for the course until I had a minimum of two weeks work experience in a state primary school. 

The problem is, trying to find a primary school placement can be really difficult. I was also questioning whether teaching was even for me. What if I can’t stand kids, or I can’t teach very well? I’ve been told that teaching can be very demanding and the workload is very heavy. All these things combined were worrying and off-putting. Ultimately, I doubted my ability to succeed.

I decided to consult my student development officer at my university for advice on teaching. In that conversation, I let her know about my fears and doubts about teaching. Fortunately, she used to be a head teacher of a state school. So she knew exactly what I needed to do to give myself the best chance at a PGCE. She also gave me hope that I could succeed and become a good teacher. She said that it was gonna be tough, but if it was truly what I wanted to do, I would be able to. And she decided to email primary schools in my local area on my behalf to try to get me work experience. The amount of support and advice she gave me was phenomenal. After that, I thought, all I had to do was wait for a reply.

Finding a teaching placement

A week later, my student development officer told me that my old primary school had offered me a placement. She let me know that I was very lucky since a lot of people actually don’t find placements at all. I was really happy to say the least. I mean, I’d managed to get a placement with surprising ease. But I knew that my journey in school teaching had only just begun. 

I had to draw as much experience as possible from my two-week placement in order to have a strong application for my primary PGCE. Not to mention, I was still plagued by the idea that I would hate my experience, dislike the kids, stutter and be inept in communicating with children. Quite honestly, I was scared, nervous and I just wanted to get the two weeks over with ASAP.

To make matters worse, I also found out that the person supervising me during my two-week experience would be my FORMER PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER! Not only was I worried about being a poor teacher but now my former school teacher was also gonna watch me. This made me even more scared because I really didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of her. Unfortunately, no one could have prepared me for this.

The school work placement

In the end, I chose to observe a year 4 class for the majority of my two-week experience. I really thought the kids would eat me alive and laugh at me. And it didn’t help that the first day got off to a nervous start. I sat down with a group of children at a table and tried to help them with their maths work. Thing is, Maths was never my strong point.

So the entire time I was just hoping that I didn’t slip up and make an embarrassing mistake in front of the nine year olds. Fortunately, that didn’t end up happening. Instead, I was able to communicate with these children effectively. Plus, I clarified the teacher’s instructions in a way that helped the kids to understand. I’m teaching! I thought to myself. I can do it. And best of all I actually enjoyed working with the children.

My takeaway

Throughout the two weeks, I learnt more about children and developed my ability to teach every single day. I honestly can’t explain it but I really felt like I grew into the role of a teacher. Gradually, I became more confident around the children, as well as more relaxed and less stressed. I even created a good rapport with the kids and even more surprising and unexpected was that I was very popular with them. And, my old primary school teacher was impressed with my ability. 

From everything I’ve said so far you can probably tell that I enjoyed my two-week experience. So much so that I decided to stay in the school for the rest of the term (an additional 4 weeks). That way I could get more of a variety of experiences. This included taking charge of more class sessions and teaching the children some new skills.

By the end of my work experience, I had learnt a lot about the world of primary school teaching. It gave me an immense level of respect for primary school teachers because they constantly face heavy workloads and everyday pressures of teaching young children. And many of them really care and do an amazing job at helping young kids to flourish and learn.

The future

I definitely have a lot to improve on as a teacher. But I’m confident and passionate about teaching now more than ever. Moreover, I truly believe I can succeed. Teaching is still hard work, the competition for places on PGCE courses is still stiff. And I will undoubtedly face many obstacles in the future. Nevertheless, for me teaching children is worth the challenge. Bring on the rest of my journey in school teaching!

A message from The Mix: For more information about getting a job in your chosen field, check out The Mix’s ‘getting a job’ resources here and The Mix’s internship, work experience and training resources here.

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By oceantide

Updated on 06-Jun-2022