I’ve never really had one particular career path in mind for after I graduate – I’ve always preferred keeping my options open and trying new things to see what fits. One of the options I’ve considered is going into teaching. There’s a huge shortage of teachers of STEM subjects in the UK, and so there are plenty of jobs to go round, and a lot of incentives and programmes to try to encourage STEM graduates into teaching.
I heard about a teaching internship sometime in Term 2, applied and went to an interview. I got the placement at a school in Birmingham, and so, for the past two weeks and next two weeks, I’ve been back in the classroom, along with around 40 other interns placed in schools around Birmingham, and 360 or so nationwide.
Some days, we have training, where we learn about techniques for being an effective teacher – using teaching methods backed by research, creating an effective "teacher presence", safeguarding young people and so on. Thinking back to when I was in school, I never really realised how much goes on behind the scenes.
Other days, we’re observing lessons and thinking about how our new knowledge is being applied in the classroom. How is the teacher making sure all pupils are on task? How do they know that everyone understands? How are the pupils reacting to different activities?
I’ve also done some more hands-on things, too – I created a worksheet for Year 7 about the area of a triangle, and I’ve created some resources about proving Pythagoras’ theorem for Year 9. I’ve also done some actual teaching – some of it in small groups, some of it teaching a whole class, and some one-to-one tutoring.
That’s not to say that learning ends when they walk out the classroom door. This week, I’ve had two exciting days outside the classroom – one running STEM-related activities and experiments for primary school children, and one on a school trip taking Year 7 orienteering to learn about bearings.
I’m still not sure whether teaching is for me, but this month is a valuable insight into a career I didn’t really know much about, and I’m really enjoying it. Bring on Sports Day!