My mum inspired me to become a teacher. She has worked in primary schools since I can remember, and growing up, I would go to her class and help her out when I could; I loved the fact that no two days were the same. Also, I have a lot of lovely memories of my time in primary school with my mum working there and my dad being heavily involved. Every member of my immediate family have worked in education, and I guess it was natural for me to do the same.
I came back from travelling for 2 years thinking I have missed the boat in applying for any type of teacher training course when my mum spotted an advert in the local newspaper. I applied straight away and got offered an interview a few days later. The interview was at a local primary school, and we had to take a literacy and maths test, take in a book suited for the year group allocated and read to a class, as well as preparing a presentation about ourselves and an interview with the course director and the head teacher. The very next day I received the amazing news!
This particular SCITT took on around 80 trainees, but the interviews started in September until my interview (with me being the last one) in June, and sometimes they offered a place to all the candidates or to just one person per interview session.
The course itself was very good. We had lectures in every subject, (such as Literacy, Maths, Science etc.) as well as other aspects of teaching (Voice, Special Educational Needs, Professional studies). I was on a schools direct course so we spent a lot of time working in schools, instead of studying in a lecture hall at a University. I liked the lectures and I learnt a lot from them, but I learnt more in the schools I was training at and being able to teach classes and working out what I could improve or what worked well. We had observations more and less every week, which was great for receiving feedback.
I would lie if I said it was easy! It was very demanding and I had to be highly organised and hard-working throughout, but it was worth it all in the end. I went in very naïvely and didn’t realise we needed to have two pieces of evidence per teaching standard (84 overall), a professional folder and 4 assignments to complete!
I was very fortunate in having some of the most amazing people by my side throughout, whether I needed help with planning a lesson or an assignment, I knew I could go to my friends for support as they understand! I was also very fortunate as my cohort was based in a primary school literally 5 minutes from my house! That is where all the lectures were held. My two training schools were in the local area too, so not a long commute at all.
Buy post its. Buy highlighters. Do anything you can to keep yourself organised and on top of things. It is a very hard year if you do a SCITT course, as you are doing a course and a job at the same time. The folders, the assignments, the planning, the data, and the admin – it all needs to be done and you don’t have a lot of time to do it!
The key piece of advice I got from my mentor was, “you will never know everything.” Personally, I have beaten myself up when a child asks me something and I didn’t know the answer; but is ok. It is ok to admit that you do not know everything; you are human after all and sometimes, the children respect you more when you admit that.
I taught year 5 and year 1 during my trainee year, but I have been employed at a school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, as a Year 5 teacher. The worst thing about being a teacher is that it does affect your social life, especially when you are first starting out and you are not necessarily quick at planning or marking. But, with time and practice, the work/life balance should get better.
I love the quote, “teachers change the world one child at a time” and I believe this is true. It is knowing you are making a difference; teaching isn’t just about imparting knowledge from a textbook, marking the register and sending home children at the end of the day. Sometimes, school is the only consistency in a child’s life, and sometimes they need that nurture, that place to go when maybe things are just not right at home. I like knowing that I can provide that; that is the best thing about teaching in my opinion. I love teaching because I know that I can make some kind of difference for every pupil in my class.