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A day in the life of a English Teacher in the United Kingdom
After graduating, I immediately joined the Teach First programme in the June before graduating. I undertook 6 weeks training before starting in the classroom the following September.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work as a teacher in a Secondary school in South London. I teach English but also act as a form tutor. The school has children in years 7-11 and covers a range of subjects.
What do you do?
As an English teacher, my job is to plan and deliver lessons to a range of different age groups and abilities. I am also responsible for their progress and making sure that I am tracking their learning, marking books and adapting my practice to best support them. My role also includes pastoral work as a form tutor providing PSCHE sessions to a form group and helping with issues which arise outside of lesson time. Alongside classroom duties, I also run an extra-curricular club, fulfilled playground duties, support school trips and host parent meetings.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
After graduating, I immediately joined the Teach First programme in the June before graduating. I undertook 6 weeks training before starting in the classroom the following September. As part of the programme, I completed a fully funded PGCE in secondary English. I first discovered Teach First through a talk I visited on campus while studying at York which really drew me in. I spent a lot of time researching the opportunity and decided that it was what I wanted to do after I graduated. I had taken part in the YSIS programme while studying which made me interested in pursuing a career in education and saw the Teach First programme as having a lot of benefits alongside training to teach.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
Having grown up in a family with other teachers, I was interested in teaching and knew that it was something that I wanted to do from early on. I entered teaching as soon as a I graduated and am still there 3 years later.
Describe your most memorable day at work
My most memorable day at work was my first day teaching a new class of pupils with a variety of special educational needs. I remember being nervous as it was not something which I had had much experience of yet but once I met them and started teaching I soon realised it was going to be a very rewarding class to teach. It was great to be able to help them understand the lesson and learn something new made me realise the importance of my job and the impact that teachers have on their pupils lives. It really is a motivator to go into work when you know that children rely on you to be a constant in their life and guide them in those early years.
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
One challenge of teaching is definitely the workload. People often think that teachers only work 8-3 and get lots of school holidays but I arrive at school at 7.30 and often do not leave til 6. School holidays are definitely a perk but you do have to sacrifice some of those days to mark and plan so it is not a complete switch off. The demands of teaching vary from lesson planning to marking to admin and more and it is hard to switch off especially when you develop relationships with pupils who you want to support as best you can.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
As a teacher, you spend most of your day in the classroom and after school you may attend meetings with your colleagues to discuss plans for teaching or school changes. The dress code for teachers varies from school to school but I always dress smart in order to set a standard for my pupils. Everything that you do at school focuses on how best to support the pupils that you teach and this is what underpins the role. It can sometimes be tricky to create a work life balance but I always try to do right by my pupils first. As I develop my practice, I hope that I will be able to create more of a balance.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
I took part in the York Students in Schools volunteering programme which at York University which really helped to give me an insight into the classroom. I went to two different schools local to York which allowed me to experience different school settings. This enabled me to understand that teaching was something that I was interested in pursuing further as the first hand experience gave me a taster of life in the classroom.
What would you like to do next with your career?
Having taught for 3 years, I am looking to move outside of the classroom but remain in the education sector. I would like to move into the Higher Education space in order to have an impact on young people beyond the classroom and as they progress through the education system. I think that the skills I have developed as a teacher will enable to me to be successful in a role that supports students transitioning to University.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
I think that when you graduate you feel as though you have to get a job immediately but I think it is important to consider what interests you and what is important to you. Do not choose a career because of the money instead choose it because it is something that you are passionate about. This way you will actually feel motivated to go to work and enjoy the role that you play. One thing I recommend doing to prepare for work is to do thorough research and create a LinkedIn profile to find connections in your desired sector. A really great tip I learnt is to find people who are in your desired work role and note what previous experience and positions they had before they got there. This way you an better understand your potential career path and where you might like to begin.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
I am happy to support York students with understanding how to navigate the education sector. In particular I can give support and information on pursuing a PGCE, secondary eduction or the Teach First programme. Although I did a Philosophy degree, I am an English specialist teacher so I am able to help support in this area too. I have taught in challenging schools and pupils with special educational needs. I am passionate about making education fairer and more accessible which is something that I am also happy to help students understand more about.
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