Teacher Toolkit: Thinking of Becoming a Teacher?

I was always going to be a teacher. It isn’t one of those situations where I say ‘for as long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher’. No, in fact I wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter when I was younger (who didn’t want to be able to make the Thunderbird Island and go on all those adventures?!). But teaching seemed to find me. For many years I thought I would be a Primary School teacher but after about 4 years of voluntary work during my college and early degree years, I realised it wasn’t quite the right fit for me.

So I started to look into different options for teaching older students. There was no question in my mind that I wanted to teach Philosophy and Ethics in the hopes of re-creating the intellectually stimulating environment that I was so fortunate to experience myself at college (mainly due to my wonderful teacher who I am now very fortunate to teach alongside). However the thought of having to do my teacher training in Secondary RE, in order to teach A Level, frightened me to the core (those stories will definitely be kept for a future blog!)

Still I persevered and when the time arrived I applied for the one year Secondary Religious Studies PGCE at Durham University. My interview consisted of a written activity, group activity and then panel interview. Now I was as prepared as I could be, don’t forget this was prior to Google been the fountain of all knowledge but one question in particular threw me through a loop!

“You have ten minutes to design a scheme of work on any topic of your choice to teach to a year 8 class last lesson on a Friday.” My first thought…you want me to design a what?

So with this in mind, last year I piloted an Enrichment course with any students considering teaching. This course was meant to run for the whole year but due to lockdown was of course cut short. I am once again running the course with a new cohort of students for one hour a week. I designed the course to explore many different areas of teaching including: looking for the right route into teaching, preparing for an interview and the pedagogical practice behind teaching. All the things I was naively unaware of.

I wanted to share the Toolkit Pack I have designed to help, guide and encourage any other students exploring the possibility of teaching. It comprises of a multitude of questions, with some reading, to help focus students on important aspects of teaching. It is catered for Primary teaching through to Post 16.

The Teacher Toolkit Pack contains (download here):

  1. What makes a ‘good’ teacher?
  2. Teaching Acronyms: what do they mean?
  3. Myths about Teaching
  4. Avenues into Teaching
  5. Writing a UCAS Personal Statement (This also might help: How to write a UCAS Personal Statement)
  6. Interview Preparation for Teacher Training/ Degree
  7. Lesson Planning
  8. Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  9. Special Educational Needs (More on Autism can be found here: Autism Awareness: How aware are you?)
  10. Ensuring Questioning Impacts Students’ Learning (Check this out for more: Ensuring Questioning Impacts Students’ Learning)
  11. Dealing with Behaviour Issues in the Classroom
  12. Differentiation
  13. What is Happening in the World of Teaching Today? (This is a great website to help with this: ResearchED: Keeping a finger on the pedagogy pulse.)
  14. Lesson Observations
  15. Preparing for Work Experience
  16. Reflections of Work Experience

I hope you find it useful when preparing for a future in teaching.

Cambridge University: My Story

Working from home in the realms of E Learning, Zoom conferencing, sending work home and setting deadlines via email, has made me very reminiscent of when I completed my Masters back in 2012 at Cambridge University. My Masters, in Educational Research, was completed long distance alongside teaching full time. I never really talk about my Masters or my time at Cambridge, (unless you talk to my family who love an opportunity to mention it) in truth I never told most of my colleagues or friends at the time. This was partly due to the fear that I might not have actually been able to do it (I had been out of formal education for 5 years). So, this is how I became a graduate with First Class Honours from Cambridge University.

Ever since my A Levels I wanted to study at Cambridge University. I felt too young at 18 to move so far from home, Homerton (for my PGCE) just didn’t feel quite right (I went to Durham University instead) so when I started to consider my Masters, Cambridge was my one and only choice. The problem was they only offered long distance, part time Masters in Education to alumni of the University. After emailing the course directly, a small ray of hope was ignited that this might change in future years. And it did. Roughly two years later, after supporting a student with her UCAS form, I once again felt the pangs to learn and challenge myself, so I had another look at their website. Starting in September that year, Cambridge were going to pilot a Masters course open to non-Cambridge graduates. Without hesitation I began writing my third personal statement and after a very useful bit of advice to add a piece of scholarly research into my application, my statement was ready to be sent off. Within a few weeks I was invited for an interview, booked my hotel, authorised leave from work, researched every possible question and prepared all my answers (I never did a pilot interview with anyone though as I find them so cringy!) I was ready.

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