Reflecting on my initial teacher training year
I wasn’t born with a desire to be a teacher. In fact, it hadn’t crossed my mind until just a few months before actually starting my teacher training! I’d considered and trialled other lines of employment – finance, the nuclear industry, computer science - but none seemed quite right. In retrospect, trying to decide your future while still in your late teens or early twenties is tough thing to get right. But somehow all the research and discussions led me to teaching.
Completing a PGCE brought many new and unfamiliar challenges. While not as mind-bending as some of undergraduate level mathematics, the late-night lesson planning and last-minute printing were certainly stressful. I didn’t truly realise until this year just how tiring being busy is. My course entailed the additional obstacle of essays – unfamiliar territory for many mathematicians! Although, despite my expectations, these were one of my favourite parts. It was so beneficial to take a step back from the classroom and take time to reflect on different areas of my practice.
Despite all of this, I feel thoroughly prepared for next year and cannot imagine a more rewarding profession to go into. The highlight of my year has been the students. I doubt any other job would involve as many unexpected laughs. According to one year 7 (who was not particularly fond of maths), my lessons were “better than French”, which I took to be a great compliment. The heartfelt thank yous I received from my classes at the end of the year made all the hard work feel worthwhile.
My advice to anyone thinking about, or preparing to start their PGCE would be to take time for yourself. There comes a point where you need to set the lesson planning aside and take a break – be it going to the gym, cooking (or ordering!) a nice meal, or even just a cup of tea and an early night. I have found that my most successful – and enjoyable – lessons have been the product of a relaxed mindset. Staying up to the early hours of the morning fretting over curating the perfect PowerPoint may not be conducive to this…
Secondly, make the most of those around you! All teachers (interns or otherwise) will have experienced a teaching qualification of some sort and will all have their own pearls of wisdom to share. Try observing teachers from other subject areas, particularly the experienced ones. If you’re concerned about behaviour management, see if you can watch an experienced teacher who’s known for doing it successfully.
I have been fortunate to experience education from teachers who truly care and inspire, who have, maybe subconsciously, helped make the decision for me. Perhaps it’s a little premature to say that I’ve found my calling, but for this point in my life it will do just fine.
By Imogen Mitchell
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