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Blog Archives

Fast-tracking my teaching career

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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Duncan Barclay is a 23-year-old, newly qualified (second year) secondary school physics teacher, working at Inverurie Academy in Aberdeenshire. Duncan holds an undergraduate degree in engineering from Robert Gordon University and a PDGE from the University of Aberdeen. While studying engineering Duncan considered a range of career options including teaching. Then, post-graduation he decided to go for it. He’s currently studying for a masters degree in management alongside his full-time teaching role which will allow him to fast-track his career.

“When I first did my degree in engineering, I initially had my heart set on going into every boy’s dream job – Formula 1. However, when I started researching the job opportunities, I soon realised this would require a move away from Scotland which I didn’t want.

“I started looking into a range of alternative careers and decided to do one week’s work experience in my old primary school. I knew there and then that teaching was for me. Initially, it was quite daunting to stand up in a room classroom full of children, all staring back at you, I soon found my confidence and started to really enjoy building up a rapport with the students.

“Studying for the PDGE was completely different to my first degree in engineering. It challenged me in different ways than what I was used to, and I had to quickly grasp the different styles of assignments, going from a very black and white, scientific perspective to one that felt much more personal.

“As the only full-time physics teacher in my school I am busy but I thrive on it and love the challenge. I make sure that I manage my time efficiently in order to work to the best of my ability. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to run my own department at such an early stage of my career. All my colleagues are incredibly supportive, and I know there is always someone there to give me advice when I need it.

“It’s great to be able to study for my master’s in managåement while simultaneously teaching full time. I couldn’t do it without the support of my talented colleagues and school leaders who are always encouraging me to achieve my full potential.

“I’d definitely recommend that any young graduates who are considering a role in teaching should visit a school and observe some classes. Personally, I find that it’s a job that is both stimulating and a whole lot of fun and that is something I hadn’t expected. We need more teachers who come from STEM backgrounds, so it means there’s a lot of opportunity and fast progression for those who want it.

“Some of my friends ask me if a dream job came up in F1 now, whether I would consider changing career. But hand on heart, I can honestly say I wouldn’t take it, even if it meant a pay rise. I love my job as no two days are ever the same and it feels great to know that you are helping to inspire future generations.”

Sharing my passion is so rewarding

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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Maxine McNeill is a 29-year-old chemistry teacher, working at Bell Baxter High School in Fife. Maxine holds a degree in Forensic Science and a PDGE. She qualified in 2014 and has been teaching chemistry for five years. When she finished her degree, Maxine took a year out to consider what she wanted to do. Initially keen to get into forensics in the Police, there then made the decision to get into teaching when a friend suggested it to her.

I love my job and realise what an important role I’m in because I can really make a difference to young people’s lives. I work hard to inspire, lead and motivate all the students in a relevant way and hope that I nail it. A highlight of my career so far has been changing pupil’s perception and enjoyment of science. Many will start off saying they don’t like science then a few weeks into my class, I always get great feedback about how much they love it. It’s a good feeling.

“In this role, no two days are ever the same and I would encourage all undergraduates considering what they want to do to seriously look at teaching. It’s hard work but I thrive on the challenge that working with such a diverse range of pupils of different ages, backgrounds and abilities brings. Also, I feel like I have a great work/life balance and the holidays are brilliant, which means I can do a lot of travelling too”.

 

Maxine on being an Original Influencer

“It’s great to see this new research on teachers as it’s something my friends always say to me – that I’m the real influencer. It makes me laugh but it’s always struck a chord with me because it’s true in the sense that we have such a huge opportunity to change young people’s lives.

“So many of my students say that their goal is to be a YouTuber. I do my best to get them to keep it real. While we’re all about promoting goal setting and aiming high, I want them all to have a back-up plan. It would also be great if I could inspire some to get into teaching too. I feel a real sense of job satisfaction when students are keen to go onto study science further and ask me for advice”.

 

Maxine on her favourite teacher

“I had an amazing German teacher who was full of energy and great fun. She really got the class engaged but didn’t stand for any nonsense. I like to think I learnt a lot from her about leading a class in a motivating way.”

My favourite thing about teaching

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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Why teach?

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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How I came to Scotland to teach

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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“I’m originally from Dublin, Ireland but moved to Scotland to work in a primary school in North Edinburgh four years ago.

“I got into teaching from a placement I did at secondary school. I worked for a week in a nursery, loved it, and just knew that was the career path I was going to take.

“I love the people in Scotland, I’ve always felt so welcomed by them. I love that there’s always something to do – the Edinburgh Fringe and lots of other different festivals. Add to that the fact that I’m really close to beaches and hills. The scenery here is absolutely stunning.

“My move to Scotland was the best decision I could have ever made – there’s so much room to grow and my career has completely blossomed. At St David’s I work in a promoted post as a Development Officer. I’m a member of the management team and I’m also developing play-based learning.

“I would encourage anyone to teach here – there’s so many great opportunities.”

Teaching wasn’t my first career

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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“I came to teaching after having worked in other jobs and this gave me many transferable skills I could bring to the classroom. I had always enjoyed imparting knowledge, training and counselling staff and knew I wanted to work with young people so teaching felt like the ideal career.

“Being a Home Economics teacher is very rewarding as you are teaching young people essential life skills, giving them the opportunity to learn to cook healthy meals from scratch and, most importantly, showing them the enjoyment this activity can bring.

“If you are considering a career in teaching I would say take some time to come into a school to see what it is really like and speak to teachers about the profession. It is a varied, fast paced job which allows you to work with and have an impact on a large number of young people.”

Teaching is incredibly fulfilling

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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“I originally graduated with an honours degree in Fashion Marketing and worked in retail management. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my years working in the fashion industry, I never felt I had the chance to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. I therefore made the life-changing decision to become a teacher and I have never looked back.

“Being a teacher is an exciting career and brings me a real sense of fulfilment. In teaching Home Economics, you are providing valuable lifelong skills and promoting prospective success for all. It is important to me that every pupil I encounter feels valued. I aim to be a role model, encouraging, motivating and inspiring the pupils to become the best version of themselves. If I can make one small difference to their lives, whether that be academically, socially or personally, then that’s something to be celebrated.”

Teaching extends beyond my subject

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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“I love teaching Geography. It’s a modern subject that’s relevant to pupils, covering topics such as climate change, and it teaches pupils to have a respect for their natural environment and shows them the vast timeline of the world. I enjoy the time with pupils, exploring my subject and encouraging them to be enthusiastic about it.

“I want to help my pupils succeed and get as much out of school as possible. I run after-school clubs three nights a week and contribute to wider school events. I think it’s great for pupils to see their teachers taking a genuine interest in them and their lives, not just their performance in the classroom.

“There are lots of opportunities for career progression in teaching and to keep challenging yourself. It’s the kind of job that if you want to keep learning then you can. Every day is different when you are working with young people.”

Why I became a teacher

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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“I had considered a career in teaching for quite some time, from my early years at secondary school. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to be in a career where I could inspire people to achieve their potential, but I also wanted to help young people realise the value and worth of speaking Gàidhlig.

“Teaching Gàidhlig can be challenging, because not all pupils share the same interest in the subject and there are varying levels of ability, too. That being said, I want my pupils to achieve good grades in their qualifications, and I want them to look back on the time they spent in my classroom as being useful, valuable and an enjoyable learning experience.

“I keep my lessons interesting by trying new things and adapting my plans to the needs of the children. It’s important, too, that I use my own strengths and areas of interest in my teaching – lessons tend to be more engaging that way. I particularly enjoy teaching my own favourite pieces of literature to classes.”

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