Tales from new teachers

12th September 2014 at 01:00
Persistence pays off

The problem

I was a career changer, moving from journalism to teaching. I found my passion for English, my chosen teaching subject, later in life. My bachelor's degree is in psychology; not all that related to my subject but beneficial for teaching in general.

After my degree, I studied for a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and felt that this qualification, along with my experience as a journalist, would stand me in good stead when I was applying for teacher training. But I found myself up against a number of people with relevant degrees and more teaching experience. I felt that I had no hope given the competition. Financial and time constraints meant that studying for a further degree was not possible.

The options

There was no "in" for me: potential employers saw my lack of qualifications and disregarded my applications, regardless of experience, enthusiasm and self-taught subject knowledge. The application forms were heavily concerned with original bachelor's and master's degrees, so I could not highlight the merits of my postgraduate study as much as I would have liked.

Determined to become a teacher, I quit my well-paid job in London and moved back in with my parents to work as a school-based English tutor in order to gain experience and bolster my application.

I decided to employ a business-world approach when it came to applying: I personally emailed the director of the course, explaining my concerns and attempting to counteract his. Meanwhile, I had approached the relevant members of staff at the school I worked at to gauge whether a training placement for English was available and whether they would consider having me as their trainee.

My eagerness paid off: I was given a chance to prove myself at interview.

The result

My "dog with a bone" attitude worked. The employers and course leaders could see that although my subject knowledge needed enhancing, there was no denying I had enthusiasm and dedication. I was offered a placement at the school I worked at on condition that I attended a subject knowledge enhancement course prior to training, benefiting me as well as reassuring the training school that I had the basic knowledge required.

Sometimes the status quo needs to be challenged and the risk certainly paid off for me.

The writer is a trainee teacher in East Anglia

Share your experience as a new teacher

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

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