Unto the breach…almost!

So it’s around 2 weeks now before I officially start my placement. I am actually really excited now. A new chapter in my life is due to begin, along with a few other big days this coming year (my second child is due at the end of September, I’m getting married in May and I turn the big 3-0 in June!). If life was easy it wouldn’t be worth it – that’s my motto and this year is certainly living up to that. My time as a gymnastics coach will, however, be dropping dramatically and I’m currently feeling OK about it. We’ll see closer to the time if my feelings change.

Anyway, back to it. I have so far been sent my timetable and reading list for my placement. It highlights the number of conference and subject knowledge days that I have to attend, along with a few others. My Lead school is constant until after Christmas when I will be placed into a contrasting school for 6 weeks. Finally it’s back to my Lead school for the remainder of the academic year. As I’m specialising in PE I also have some PE conferences to attend which I am looking forward to; hopefully they’ll add to my roster and boost my skill-set so I can provide the best for those that I teach.

My reading list is quite extensive, containing various subjects and psychology based theory on how to become a better teacher. In truth, I have not even begun to look at the books in this list; I’m sure I will get around to it soon though. Most of these are available in the University library I’m sure, so as soon as I’m allowed I’ll nip in to read up on them.

Until the next time…

The application…

So, my application process was twofold.

First I had applied for a School Direct placement in the October of 2015 and didn’t get anywhere. A series of unfortunate events played out during the application process that stopped me from even getting as close as an interview. My first and most important piece of advice, people, is read the instructions! I skipped over the part that states ‘one of your referees must be a teacher/lecturer if you have been at university in the last X number of years’. Following this the timing of my application was such that one of my referees was on holiday while the other was judging at the gymnastics world championships. This delayed things and spaces on my chosen courses filled up like there was no tomorrow. The upshot of this was that I was able to get a full academic year extra of experience working in schools.

Roll on October 2016. This time I had it all worked out, correct references and all. The process this time around was pretty quick. I received a reply within about 2 weeks and I was offered an interview in November.

The interview process was fairly relaxed. It was the first one of the year and there were 8 candidates on the day, a good mix of final year students and working people, male and female. During the day we were given the chance to wander around the classrooms and observe some of the lessons that were going on.

The first part of the interview process was a reading. Prior to the interview day we were instructed to bring along a book of our choice to read to some year 1 children. I chose an old classic, We’re going on a bear hunt. My personal approach to this was to get the children acting out the different parts of the journey. All in all a success reading. The kids enjoyed it and they were engaged and responsive to the story. I also enjoyed reading, despite there being two interviewers watching in the background. This whole section lasted for 20 minutes.

Part deux was a bog standard interview. The same 2 interviewers were sat opposite me asking questions and taking notes. My experience of this was a good one; I felt rather relaxed about the whole thing and answered my questions wholly and confidently. After this I was free to leave.

The following day I received an offer of a place for Primary with PE specialism, which I immediately accepted. It took a while (July 2017) until I was informed as to where my Lead School Placement was going to be. I took the opportunity to visit the school which, although not compulsory, I would highly recommend and make a priority. It’s a great way to get to know some of the staff you’ll be working with before Day 1 of the new school year.

In summary, my advice to you would be:

  • Ensure you have the correct references.
  • Get as much experience as you can within the school setting. Volunteering as a classroom TA might me a good way to start this.
  • Try to relax a bit during the interview stage. Interact with the other candidates and ask questions (both to the candidates and the teachers in the school)
  • Finally, have fun. Teaching should be fun.

Firsts…

For the last 14 years I have had a strong desire to help others with their learning. I started coaching gymnastics after moving to my current club in Plymouth when I was about 13. In 2003 I gained my first coaching qualification shortly followed by a judging one.

Fast forward a few years and I got my first experience of working in a school setting. This was challenging. I was still working on my communication, behaviour management and organisational skills and quickly found that coaching is different to teaching.

Forwards again for a few more years and I find myself applying for a BSc (Hons) Strength and Conditioning degree. In short the best 3 years of education I have ever received. I came out with a 1st (after quite poor GCSE results, and mediocre College results). Following this I wanted to get further experience of working in schools so I took a couple of years to gain more experience.

This is where the new chapter of my life begins.