Why I’m becoming a teacher: because I don’t want to be bored in my career

Maths teacher Megan Cumberlidge shines a light on the Teach First teacher training route and how she’s getting on in her first year. This is from the Guardian…

Before coming to Teach First I’d been a student at Cardiff University for five years. I started off doing a maths degree but found it too abstract and discovered I prefer applied maths so I switched to a degree in architectural engineering. Then I did a Master of Engineering. I really wasn’t sure what to do as my career but in my degree and master’s I did work experience in different engineering companies. I also went to Africa to do project management in engineering, which I really loved. But engineering in the UK was too technical and dry. I found I was getting bored after a two and a half month placement so I knew after a year I’d be really bored. I wanted a job where I wasn’t behind a desk the whole time. A couple of my friends did Teach First – they told me how hard it was but I didn’t anticipate the reality.

I applied for the course a year ago when I was in my final year at university. The application process was quite quick. There was an online application form, then we went to a recruitment day for an individual interview and a group test. We had to teach a micro lesson to adults pretending to be children – I did mine on triangles, it was pretty hilarious. I found out the next day that I had got onto the course. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride ever since. I fancied a challenge and I’ve certainly been given one. I graduated from my MEng at the end of May, had a couple of weeks off and then the Teach First course started at the end of June.

The first three weeks were at Nottingham University where I’m doing my PGCE. Then we had three weeks at Warwick University as part of the Teach First summer institute. There were a thousand of us there. We are contracted for two years. By the end of the first year we’ll get our PGCE and at the end of the second year we’ll have passed our NQT year. Our tuition is paid and we are paid £17,000 in the first year and £21,000 in the second year. After being a student for five years, this isn’t too bad for me.

So I have only been in the classroom for 11 weeks. I teach 21 lessons a week. Before that I’d never taught a full lesson on my own. So it’s in at the deep end, really. But for me it feels the best route into teaching. After being at university for five years I didn’t want to go back to being a student, of course there is still academic work to be done but on the whole the course is practical. But on my first day I broke down in tears. Nothing specifically bad happened but it really overwhelmed me. I went from never teaching in my life to have a full day of lessons. I said to my mentor: “Nobody learnt anything!” She said: “What do you expect? It’s only the first lesson.” You want to be really good straight away but you have to remember you’ve never taught before. One of my friends is doing a PGCE and he told me he is just about to teach his first lesson in a school, whereas I’ve been teaching 21 lessons a week since the start, but I like it that way.

I’ve got a lot of support. At school I’ve got a professional mentor and a subject mentor and at college I’ve got a professional tutor and a subject tutor. My subject mentor teaches across the classroom from me, I see her every day and meet formally once a week. I am formally observed by my college mentors once every half a term. I’m one of three Teach First teachers in the school, a science teacher and an English teacher and that helps too…

More at:  Why I’m becoming a teacher: because I don’t want to be bored in my career

Secret Teacher: we can't be outstanding every day, so why judge us on that?
Labour peer criticises university access tsar over 'snobbery' comments
Categories: Teaching.


Let us know what you think...