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Real teaching experience before travelling

Name: Carys Thomas

Age: 25

Specialism: I studied Physical Education with Qualified Teacher Status at Newman University. I finished my course in May 2014, and graduated the same year.

PK Education office: West Midlands

What interested you in becoming a teacher?

I’ve always loved children and I love chatting so it seemed like a good fit! My first experience of work was in a primary school, when I was in Year 10, for two weeks. I loved the experience I gained from that, and as I grew up I knew I either wanted to be a teacher, or a nurse. I definitely wanted to do something that makes a difference to people.

I’ve travelled quite a bit over the last few years and I think, through experiencing that, I realised how much I love learning too. I love learning about different cultures and that’s what made me decide to be a teacher. I love that as a teacher I’m able to help children learn about the world and hopefully inspire them to want to learn more.

What made you look into supply teaching?

I completed my course just after Easter but I had already planned to go travelling in Australia later in the year. I didn’t want to start my NQT year and not be able to finish it, and be forced into doing it over two separate terms. I also didn’t want to start with my own class in September and then leave them before the first term was finished; that can be disruptive to them and it’s unfair.

So I decided supply teaching would be the best way for me to get real teaching experience before travelling.

What are you planning to do whilst travelling?

I’m going to Australia in November, whilst I’m there I intend to teach children outside of the school curriculum. I hope to put my PE specialism into practice whilst I’m there. After all, I’ve spent the last three years to train as a teacher, so I want to put what I’ve learned into practice!

I’ve travelled before my degree. I deferred for three years and visited Gambia, Thailand, and New Zealand amongst others. In each country I visited I taught whilst I was there. Teaching in different cultures is a real eye opening experience; each culture has a different way of teaching. Whilst I was in Gambia, the focus was on teaching the basics to deprived school children. Whereas in Thailand there were lots of resources and the focus was on polishing the student’s pronunciation of the English language.

What has your experience of working as a supply teacher been?

I signed up with PK Education after I met a member of the team from the West Midlands office. They were really friendly and approachable. I let them known about my plans to travel, and they let me know what my options were.

As I knew I was leaving later in the year, I told PK l I wasn’t looking for a long term placement. I wasn’t picky about what ages or subjects I wanted to teach either. Although they let me know, if I wanted, I could be specific about where, what and who I wanted to teach. However, I just wanted to gain some real experience.

I got my first placement at Cromwell Junior and Infant School within a week of signing up with PK Education. Originally my placement was due to be cover for a teacher off sick but they ended up asking me to stay!

The school and children knew that I was going travelling in November. I was honest about the fact I couldn’t stay forever. But instead of having more temporary teachers in the space of a couple of months, they asked me to cover until I needed to leave, which I was absolutely thrilled to do as the class is absolutely lovely. To say they’ve had many teachers come and go, they’re all still really able, with many of them above average in their latest end of year assessments.

Did you have any preconceptions of supply teaching?

Not really. I think, for me, I just realised it was a good way for me to get experience. I was nervous in a way on my first day, but only in the same way that you normally are on any first day at work.

I suppose before I started looking in to it, and when I was at school myself, I thought it must be hard to be a supply teacher. For example, it must be hard to control a class when you don’t even know their names. However, I honestly haven’t had any negative experiences whilst working on supply. I was more worried about learning their names than anything else!

Would you recommend working as a supply teacher for other NQTs?

I would definitely recommend considering working as a supply teacher to other NQTs. For me it’s not only been a real learning curve to build my confidence and extremely convenient due to my travel plans, but it’s been a great way to keep in the loop and keep my experience fresh. For people who are looking for more permanent positions, I would imagine it would be great too because you’ll get a ‘crash course’ in teaching from the variety of placements on offer.