Teaching - student stories
Nuala Spooner, Secondary Science Teacher
Why did you decide to go into teaching?
I had done some training in employment and enjoyed it. I was looking for a change in careers and teaching attracted me because I would be giving knowledge to others.
How did you choose the age range you teach?
I had developed an interest in science from my OU degree and knew I wouldn't be happy unless I was using that knowledge, hence secondary where you have to specialise in a subject.
What training did you do to qualify?
I did the OU PGCE. Getting onto the course took some time. The first partner school I was linked up with fell through so I had to wait for another and go through the interview process again. However once I was on the course time went really quickly; it was very intensive. There was tremendous support from my OU tutor and my partner school. Everything was new to start with but the process is clearly laid out for you and the teaching materials were fabulous. I was given a 'bye' for my first teaching practice because I had already worked in a school as a science technician.
My perceptions changed during the course - it makes you realise just how much work goes into teaching.
What is your current post?
I started here in September 2004 and completed my NQT year at the end of this spring term.
What skills do you use?
You need good subject knowledge and need to keep up to date with the latest developments, but also teaching methodology, new regulations and continuing professional development. I also need to be able to control the class, have good organisational skills, build relationships with the pupils, and observational skills.
Best and worst aspects
Best is the children's enthusiasm - when you can see that they understand something you have taught them.
Worst is when there are children who you can't get through to. Marking comes a close second though - I spend on average 6–7 hours on it a week.
What jobs had you done before you went into teaching?
I was an assistant manageress in a small manufacturing/retailing Scottish clothing business. It offered products via a retail outlet and mail order. I had a rounded role which required me to be very adaptable. Once I had done some OU study I started working in a school as a science technician which gave me valuable experience.
Where do you see your future?
I'm very new so don't have aspirations to management just yet. I'm not teaching A level at the moment so I need to consider that in the future. I would be most interested in a subject coordinator role as the pastoral side doesn't appeal. A mentoring role where I'm working with trainee teachers would also be something I would be interested in.
What advice would you give to someone considering teaching?
Be prepared for long hours. Make sure you can relate to people. The demands on your time are huge - especially during the training. Be prepared to feel rewarded.