My journey into teaching
Read about oceantide's journey into teaching, including a description about their two week work placement.
Initial steps into teaching
I am a university student who is interested in a career as a primary school teacher. I want to do primary PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education). However, I have heard that there is stiff competition for PGCE courses. In fact, I could not even consider applying for the course until I had a minimum of two weeks work experience in a state primary school. The task of finding a primary school placement can be very difficult. I was also deeply worried that maybe teaching wasn’t for me. What if I can’t stand kids, or I can’t teach very well? I heard that teaching can be very demanding and the workload is very heavy. All these concerns and obstacles to teaching was worrying and off-putting, I doubted my ability to succeed.
I first consulted my student development officer at my university for advice on teaching. I spoke to her about my fears and doubts about teaching. Fortunately, my student development officer used to be a head teacher of a state school. She knew exactly what I needed to do to give myself a strong application for PGCE. She gave me hope that I could succeed and become a good teacher. She said that it will be tough, but if I work hard, I can do it. She also decided to email primary schools in my local area on my behalf to try to get me work experience. This was very encouraging, I thought, all I had todo was wait for a reply.
Finding a placement
A week later, my student development officer told me that my old primary school would offer me a placement. She said I was very lucky because many people do not find placements at all. I was really happy. I managed to get a placement with surprising ease. But I knew that my challenge had only just begun. I had to draw as much experience from my two-week placement in order to have a strong application when I begin to apply for primary PGCE. I was still haunted by the idea that I would hate my experience, dislike the kids, stutter and be inept in communicating with children. I was scared, nervous and I just wanted to get the two weeks over with as soon as possible.
I also found out that the person who would be my supervisor during my two-week experience would be my FORMER PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER! Oh my gosh! Not only will I be worried about being a poor teacher but also my former schoolteacher will watch me. This made me even more scared because I really did not want to embarrass myself in front of her as well! No one could have prepared me for this.
I chose to observe a year 4 class for the most part my two-week experience. I really thought the kids would eat me alive and laugh at me. The first day got off to a nervous start. I sat down with a group of children at a table and spent my time helping them with their maths work. Maths was never my strong point, and I was hoping that I did not slip up and make an embarrassing mistake in front of the nine year olds with the maths questions. Fortunately, I did not mess up. Even more uplifting was that I was able to communicate with these children effectively. I was able to clarify 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 most of all I enjoyed working with the children.
During the two weeks, I learnt more about children and developed my ability to teach. I cannot explain it but I felt that I grew into the role of a teacher. I became more confident around the children, as well as more relaxed and less stressed. I developed a good rapport with the kids and even more surprising and unexpected was that I was very popular with the children. In addition, my old primary school teacher was impressed with my ability. Yahoo!
I enjoyed my two-week experience so much that I decided to stay in the school for the rest of the term (an additional 4 weeks) with the intent of trying to get a variety of experience, such as taking charge of more class sessions and teaching the children new skills.
By the end of my work experience, I felt that I had learnt a lot about the world of primary school teaching. I have an immense level of respect for primary school teachers because they constantly face heavy workloads and everyday pressures of teaching children. And many of them do a very good job at helping young kids to flourish and learn.
I have a lot to improve on as a teacher but I am more confident and passionate about teaching. Moreover, I believe I can succeed. Teaching is hard work, the competition for places on PGCE courses is stiff. And I face many tough challenges in the future. Nevertheless, for me teaching children is fun and rewarding and it is worth the challenge. Bring it on!
Picture posed by model from Shutterstock.
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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