Guest blog written by Catherine Shawyer, Teaching Fellow in English Education and Deputy Director of ITT & Schools Liaison Manager. Department of Education, University of York
How about the chance to inspire a generation?
If you are looking for a career where you will be able to tap directly into knowledge and skills gained during your undergraduate degree, then you will no doubt have already considered teaching.
As a secondary school teacher of, for example, Mathematics, Chemistry or Physics, you are able to indulge your passion for your subject on a daily, indeed hourly basis. Of course, you would not normally be delivering material at undergraduate level when the young people you are working with are as young as 11 years old, however you will spend a lot of time thinking about how to tailor material in your subject so that it is accessible, exciting and relevant, and this is where strong subject knowledge and creativity really come into play.
Think back to those really inspirational teachers you had. Think about the difference they made to pupils and to the delivery of their subject. Are you who you are and where you are today because of a wonderful teacher who opened the door of their subject to you and welcomed you over the threshold?
From my experience of working with trainee teachers for the past four years here at the University of York and indeed talking to undergraduates about becoming a teacher, a common fear they express is pupil misbehaviour. Common questions are “What if I can’t control the class?” or “What if the pupils don’t take me seriously?”
Unfortunately the Media does not always portray teaching in an accurate light; sometimes schools may appear like battlefields rather than centres of learning. We must remember that even reality based programmes/documentaries such as “Educating Yorkshire” are actually heavily edited to make them more interesting to the potential viewer. How fascinating is it, unless of course you are a practising teacher already, to tune in for some evening entertainment and see instead what happens on a daily basis up and down the country which is hour after hour of effective teaching and learning in well managed classrooms?
Inevitably working with adolescents does mean that at times teachers encounter classroom challenges to their authority, but it is equally true from my experience that behaviour challenges are less likely to happen when teachers are enthusiastic about the material they are presenting, knowledgeable about their subject and using creative, varied strategies to hook their teenage audiences. It is also true that behaviour management skills can be learned and that that is one of the reasons why trainees are trainees on a professional training course rather than working as fully fledged teachers from the minute they graduate.
So having read this far, ask yourself the following three questions. Am I passionate and knowledgeable about my subject? Am I a creative, solutions-based problem solver? Am I an excellent ambassador for my subject specialism and for learning more widely?
If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then definitely do more than consider secondary school teaching… APPLY.
Further information about applying for teaching can be found at:
There is also a wealth of support available to both current undergraduates and alumni from Careers at the University of York:
If you are a York undergraduate or a recent graduate from the University of York who meets the eligibility criteria for one of our secondary Initial Teacher Training programmes (www.york.ac.uk/education/pgce/), you are GUARANTEED an interview, provided there are still training places available.
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