Why teaching? “The only reason you want to become a teacher is for the long holidays” – if I had £1 for every time I’ve heard this since deciding to apply for teacher training last September, I wouldn’t need a job at all.
Honestly, I have always wanted to be a teacher. From Christmas aged twelve, when I got a white board and forced my brother to pretend to be a pupil in my class, teaching has always been a career I’ve been interested in. When I came to Essex to study history- an ‘open’ degree that doesn’t have a clear career path- teaching was something that seemed like the right next step.
“I want to make a difference and impact young people’s lives”, this is the other response I often give to the “why teaching?” question. It’s cheesy and cliché, but true. For me, this is what teaching is about (not the long holidays).
When I returned to Essex in my third year I began writing my personal statement, getting it checked by the careers and employability centre and asking tutors for references. In the next few months, I had rejections, interviews and offers. I accepted my offer to study for a PGCE in Secondary History at Canterbury Christ Church University.
What is teaching like so far?
Tiring, really really tiring. I am still mourning my undergrad days of waking up ‘early’ at 10.30am, ready to watch This Morning and then trashy reruns of Come Dine With Me in a onesie with my housemates. But my alarm going off at 6am is slowly becoming my new normal and pyjama days are only viable at the weekends.
My course started at the beginning of September, with three weeks at university learning ‘the basics’. From then on I’ve been on placement four days a week and back at university on the Friday. My course covers professional development, something I wasn’t too clued up on eight weeks ago, which focuses on how to be a good teaching practitioner and how to not become a ‘lazy’ teacher. My Fridays at university consist of sharing the roller-coaster journey to becoming a history teacher with a handful of others and learning how to best teach the subject.
There is so much support for you it is unreal: people I didn’t know two months ago are now part of the most comforting and uplifting friendship group ever. Everyone is cheering you on and wants you to succeed.
I’ve been placed in a small village school which I love. I will have a second placement after Christmas, which I am apprehensive for after settling in to my first placement so well. In my first week of placement I taught two solo lessons! Two lessons a week has been manageable and after half term that will become eight solo lessons a week, so my half term break has been filled with lesson planning.
However, the weirdest thing about becoming a ‘real-life’ teacher was having to stand in front of a class of 30 mini-adults, guiding them and even telling them off.
I dreaded being that boring teacher who makes their pupils work in silence, and shouts; yet I have become this at times. I’ve made those stupid “if I have asked for silence I expect it” cliché teacher comments. But I have also seen kids grappling with the different concepts in history, like the causes of the Spanish Armada, and realising that history is not simple: it is complex and interesting.
So, if this has your heart beating a little faster and the cheesy-ness of inspiring and impacting the next generation is making you nod along, I would really encourage you to look on the Department for Education website, go and speak to someone at the employability and careers centre, and apply for teacher training on UCAS!
Teacher training is a massive learning curve, and an information overload. It’s fun, creative, challenging, inspiring, exhausting, hard work, and intense, but there is no other career I would rather be aiming for.
The Employability and Careers Centre can help guide you to the best resources, and support your application for teaching training.