Prepare, practice and relax: how and why I’ve decided to teach

The past two months have had me thinking of Anatoli Burgoski; the unfortunate Soviet scientist who stuck his head into a live particle accelerator and swiftly received a right hook from a proton. One minute you’re fiddling with a wire and the next you’ve got a tunnel seared through your skull. August saw me cheerily ambling down the street in the sun whilst September and November waited round the corner cracking their knuckles. The reason for the two step walloping was more than the usual back-to-school madness. This is also the year that I decided to apply for a teacher training course. As of September 2019, I will be diving headfirst into the maelstrom.

Of course they don’t just let anybody wander in off the street and start teaching, no matter what you might have thought about some of your teachers. In order to make it onto a course I’d have to slay the twin Furies of Interview and Professional Skills Test. Interview was by far the most intimidating of the two, as I’m sure many people can attest to. If bigging yourself up doesn’t come naturally then trying to come across as the bee’s knees without also sounding like a pompous know-it-all can be a thin line to tread. There is a feeling pre-interview that you will be somehow caught out and they will discover you to be an ignoramus. The key thing to keep in your mind is that they are absolutely not trying to catch you out in any sense. The very fact you are at an interview means they know that you have the qualities they are looking for. Swot up on your subject, in particular the GCSE specifications, keep abreast of educational issues (signing up to the TES site is a must) and you’ll be just fine.

A Professional Skills Test certainly sounds more intimidating than it really is. The skills that are you are being tested on are essentially basic numeracy and literacy. The literacy paper consists of spelling, punctuation and grammar whilst the maths paper has mental maths and data analysis. The Department of Education website also has practice papers that proved very helpful. I was quite fortunate on the maths front as one of my days in school is working in the maths department. This was probably the best practice I could’ve hoped for and my initial apprehension at tutoring maths quickly fell away.

I couldn’t have hoped for a better insight into the trenches of teaching than working with Yipiyap. It provided the perfect opportunity to gauge whether or not teaching was really the thing for me. Speaking to other interviewees in the nervous minutes before the interview itself, I realised that most other people had spent a week or so in a school shadowing their department of interest. It was a huge asset to have such lengthy and in depth experience of how teaching practically works within secondary schools. If anyone reading this is thinking of getting into teaching then just dive right in. The best test of your ability as a potential teacher is to put yourself through the application process. You will never feel ‘ready’. I suspect there are qualified teachers who still don’t feel ‘ready’ but go out there day-in day-out and give pupils terrific lessons. I learnt first hand that the best advice is usually the most clichéd. Clichés are clichés because they actually work. Prepare, practice and relax.