Tales of a Trainee Teacher: A Final Reflection

In the beginning

I first considered a career in teaching in my second year at University. Whilst studying for my degree in English and TEFL I was in the process of training for my TEFL qualification which involved teaching a class of around 15 multilingual adults for 40 minutes every two weeks. I loved almost everything about it (except being observed!) and I began to develop a passion and enthusiasm for teaching.

Following this, in the summer of 2011 I secured a job as a TEFL teacher at a children’s summer camp in Reading, where I taught a class of 20 mixed nationality students aged between 12-17 years old. Not only was this my first ‘real’ teaching job (without being rigidly observed), it was also my first experience of working with children. So when I didn’t enjoy it, I just couldn’t figure out why. Was it the children? Was it teaching? Was it the company? Was it the type of teaching? Was it the age of the children? Was it the staff? I just didn’t have the answers.

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Although I learned a great deal from this experience and it was an interesting addition to my CV, it was very intense and overwhelming. It instantly put me off teaching so much that I turned down the opportunity to further enhance my skills by completing practical TEFL modules in my final year at University. Teaching was well and truly off the table. Back to the drawing board. Great.

In the middle

After just spending 5 half days volunteering in a primary school I have already learnt so much not only about teaching but also about myself. From my previous experience of teaching I already knew that teaching involved lots of marking, time-consuming lesson planning and report writing, but there were so many things that I didn’t realise I would have to consider and my expectations were challenged each week:

  • I was shocked by how much children know.
  • I realised that behavior management is a huge challenge in not only secondary schools but also primary.
  • I assumed I’d enjoy working with KS2 and then I absolutely loved KS1.
  • I was reminded of how interesting and funny children are.
  • I forgot how much I missed the satisfaction of helping others to learn and develop.
  • I do have an authoritative voice inside me somewhere! (It seems to have been hiding all this time!)

The moral of the story

Looking back, I’m not quite sure why I convinced myself that teaching wasn’t for me, as primary school teaching is highly suited to my skills and personality and offers just what I want from a career. It wasn’t until I finally gained some work experience that I saw past this, and, if I’d taken this step sooner then I’d already be well on my way as a teacher (but no regrets and all that!).

This shows just how important it is to ‘try before you buy’ when it comes to your career. Whether you’re almost certain that teaching (or any career for that matter) is for you or if you’re not sure, taking the time to get some experience will surely shake up your views in one way or another. Not only will this help to develop invaluable skills to put on your CV, it will also give you an idea whether it’s the job you want.

You should also ask yourself what your reasons are for wanting to be a teacher. Maybe you like the sound of long holidays throughout the year, or you’ve chosen teaching by default and haven’t spent time thinking about your other options. Whatever your motives, you should consider both the positives and negatives of teaching then combine this with your school experience to get a true idea. Teaching is hard work, fun, exciting, stressful, hilarious and rewarding at the same time, but if you’re doing it for the right reasons and have a genuine interest and commitment to the profession, then you won’t look back.

Stay tuned for the final Tales of a Trainee Teacher blog – Getting into Teaching: your questions answered

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Posted on July 15, 2013, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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