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Boosting confidence in the classroom

Name: Chris Aitkin

Age: 25

Specialism: I’m currently working as a cover supervisor across various subjects with the aim to become a fully qualified PE teacher.

PK education office: North East

What did you do before becoming a Cover Supervisor?

For the last three years I have been teaching in further education, specifically teaching PE at Tyne Metropolitan College. I originally studied PE at Sunderland University, and went on to do my Masters at Northumbria which gave me the qualification to teach Post 16 Further Education students. This is when I got offered a job to work in the college as a PE teacher.

I very much enjoyed working as a further education teacher but after three years I decided to look again into teaching Key Stage 2 and 3. In September 2014 I realised that becoming a Cover Supervisor would give me the experience required. Working as a Cover Supervisor has also helped to make my mind up that I do want to go back and gain my PGCE to become fully qualified to teach secondary age students. I have loved working in secondary schools over the last 5 months and so I recently applied to complete my PGCE at Northumbria University.

Has working as a cover supervisor been as you expected?

I would say that working as a Cover Supervisor has been in line with my expectations but I’ve also learned a lot from the experience. I expected the curriculum to be stricter, which it is. However, I underestimated the difference between working with 19 year olds, and working with 13 year olds. There’s so many things different about the learning experience that I hadn’t really thought about like their speed of learning and how they interpret language.

I also feel that from working in a range of different subjects I have learned that enthusiasm is really important. As a teacher you need to be enthusiastic and passionate to be able to encourage the students to listen, learn and become passionate. So even though I might not have enjoyed a subject at school, I’ve learned to become passionate when teaching it.

Over the last five months, I’ve built a reputation for myself amongst the schools I have been working at. I’ve generally been working at the same eight or nine schools as I’m regularly asked back. I think this has built a good bridge for me for when I’m fully qualified to be able to secure a permanent position.

Would you recommend working as a cover supervisor for people who want to become a teaches?

I would definitely recommend it. It’s allowed me to make my mind up about my future career as well as give me valuable experience that has really boosted my confidence in the classroom.

I would also recommend PK Education to others – I have already recommended the agency to three people! Having previously signed up with other agencies I’m very impressed with PK Education’s ability to get me day to day jobs as well as longer term roles. Previous agencies promised they’d be able to get me assignments but I never heard from them. So I got in touch with PK Education and explained that my aim was to become a fully qualified teacher but that I wanted to gain some classroom experience first. They could see that I was able to teach and had relevant qualifications to become a Cover Supervisor and we went from there.

I regularly deal with Amber and Dave at the Newcastle office. They’re both great to deal with and always make sure I’m happy with the jobs they’re sending me too. Where possible they always give me the option of whether I would like to work longer term or day to day. Amber and Dave are great at letting me know when I’ve had positive feedback too which is another boost to my confidence.

What interested you in becoming a teacher?

I’ve always been interested in sport so becoming a PE teacher seemed like a natural choice for me. I have always felt that I wanted to do something that makes people feel positive about themselves and I think I can do that by teaching.

I think a good teacher has the opportunity to make a massive difference to someone’s life, especially at secondary school age when children become young adults and they’re trying to find their own personalities, skills and interests. I also think it’s important to change young people’s perception of teachers. When they’re at that age when they begin to question authority, a good teacher is able to influence their perceptions of teachers and make sure that they know that teachers are there to help them, not just tell them off and stop them having fun!