Student teacher blog

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    • #48367
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      As a new cohort of student teachers being their Initial Teacher Education, we are delighted that some of them have agreed to chart their year by blogging on TalkPhysics. Here is the first entry:


      It’s a rainy Sunday at the start of September and I’m writing this with a mixture of excitement and nerves as tomorrow I will be going back to school! Except this time around, I won’t just be the student, I’ll be learning to be a physics teacher.

      I completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering and have been working as an engineer in the defence industry ever since. Upon entering this industry my first and overwhelming impression was, “Wow, there really aren’t many women here.”’ I soon set about trying to change that, becoming a STEM ambassador and working with local schools. It was through this work and setting up an apprenticeship scheme that I discovered how much I loved working with young people, showing them the exciting places that science could lead them and inspiring them to consider new career options. I soon found that these activities were becoming the highlight of my week and so it was that in January this year I decided to finally take the plunge, apply to do this full time and become a physics teacher.

      After researching the different routes available to me I decided to apply to a school centred initial teacher training programme, or ‘SCITT’, as it allowed me to work in a school from day one and learn ‘on the job’, an approach which appeals to my practical mindset. I describe it to my family and friends as an apprenticeship in teaching as it follows a very similar pattern. Four days a week I work in school gradually building up my teaching timetable and on Tuesdays I disappear off to another local school to complete my professional PGCE training. It’s a model that makes a lot of sense to me having managed apprentices as it will allow me to learn new concepts and then put them into practice right away.

      Whilst I am definitely a little apprehensive about the year ahead (a combination of a fear of the unknown and the countless stories I am told about the huge amount of work I will have to complete in the next 9 months) I can’t help but feel incredibly excited! I can’t wait to meet the students I’ll be working with this year, I’m looking forward to seeing my fellow course mates again (we met briefly for an induction in July) and I’m excited to start trying out my ideas for teaching on real classes.

      I’m hopeful that one day I will teach an A-level physics class that is close to a 50:50 gender split and that I am able through teaching to persuade a few more girls that physics isn’t just the realm of slightly greying older men. Physics is for everyone, it surrounds us every day and the more we learn and begin to understand about the world around us the more fascinating and exciting opportunities we can unlock.

    • #48414
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Thanks for this entry Caroline. It is always nice to see the enthusiasm of people of different walks of life entering the profession.

      Having experience in industry helps, as it must be nice to bring more concrete examples to students and make possible career paths more visible to learners. I started teaching straight from university, so I missed that dimension somewhat.

      All the best to all the colleagues starting this year!

    • #48606
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Here is a posting from a second student physics teacher blogger. She’s just getting to know her first school and wondering if she should have spent more time brushing up her biology and chemistry…


      Hi everyone! I’ve just finished my first week of placement as a SCITT (school-centred initial teacher training) trainee, after a two week induction course, so thought this would be a good time to share my thoughts so far.

      I graduated this summer from my masters in physics and I’d already applied for my teacher training. I was toying with doing a graduate scheme but teaching was the only thing I’d really enjoyed my experience in. I’ve always wanted a job that feels like it makes a difference and I’ve never wanted one that requires sitting alone in an office all day! I chose the SCITT route as I wanted to get the full experience of working in a school before my NQT year but didn’t want to be thrown right in at the deep end with an option like Teach First. This way I have a gentle introduction with some thorough training but by term three I’ll be teaching 15 hours a week (only 4 hours less than an NQT)!

      I did minimal preparation in the run up to starting as I was travelling for a while and was then busy sorting things like accommodation for this year. I definitely wish I had made time for more subject knowledge enhancement though. I underestimated how much work needs to be done to get my biology and chemistry up to scratch!

      The first two weeks were information overload and it became very clear that I’ll need to be ultra-organised to survive this year. We’ve done a lot of professional development and training to help us tackle our placements and we had an introduction to the PGCE part of the course.

      I chose to do a PGCE to give me the option of teaching abroad in the future. It will be good experience but the theory and pedagogy of teaching is proving slightly frustrating, following 4 years studying physics. Education research is shifting towards being more evidence based but collecting evidence is understandably difficult and this makes the literature quite subjective and qualitative. The PGCE assignments are going to be a challenge and very different to any research I’ve done before.

      This week has been fantastic! I had my first few days getting stuck in, observing lessons and getting to know the staff I’ll be working with, and of course meeting some of the students I will eventually be teaching. I have been given a full range of year groups on my timetable, including A-Level which is scary but exciting. My school also had its Year 6 open evening and I was able to get involved with the physics experiments they were running. It was fantastic to see so many enthusiastic, budding scientists coming out of primary school and especially the number of girls excited by science.

      So far I’m happy I made the decision to train this year and the SCITT route is proving to be exactly what I’d hoped for. It’s going to be tough but will hopefully be rewarding too. I’ll post another update soon but for now I should really get on with the first PGCE assignment!

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