Since I left school, my interest in a teaching career has never faded. But it took nine years of employment, soul-searching, talking to teachers – and an opportune redundancy – before I finally made the leap towards this daunting line of work.
My apprehensions are based on the same factors that caused my near-decade of seesawing on the idea. I was greatly inspired by my late, great Higher English teacher. Admittedly, she embodied an idyllic experience of education. Creative and enthusiastic, Mrs Ogg was a good teacher in a good school – I left Bearsden Academy in 2008.
I’m aware of the challenges facing Scottish education today. As an aspiring English teacher, I’m trying to stay grounded in reality rather than being solely driven by the romanticism of Dead Poets Society.
That said, I’m not without some relevant experience. I’ve spent the past four years in adult learning, delivering customer-service training courses for a utilities company. I’ve learned that a misbehaving adult can be alarmingly similar to a hormonal teenager. However, it would be foolish to say that this alone gives me all the skills I’ll need, and I’d be lying if I said my nerves haven’t been skyrocketing this summer.
Questions and expectations
I’ve been going through phases of asking myself questions such as: “Can I control a classroom of teenagers?”, “Will I able to encourage them in the way I aspire to?”, “How will I engage the parents?”, “What happens if I need the loo during a lesson?” Profound or daft, my qualms are always there.
Then there are the expectations of others: so many friends and family members have told me, “Och, Glen, you’d make a great teacher.” As grateful as I am, the more I hear this, the more fearful I grow of letting people down.
For all those fears, optimism prevailed as my course crept closer. As clichéd as it sounds, I want to make a difference in young people’s lives. I hope these 36 weeks will not only prepare me for my probation year, but also bring my dream of influencing young people closer to reality.
I’m confident that my hopes and expectations will be realised. As I was leaving my interview for the PGDE, I met a student who was just finishing her diploma. I nervously asked how she had felt 12 months prior and how she feels now. Her response has become cherished advice: “I was as anxious as you look, but now I feel ready. Just stay organised, make friends and grant yourself one night at the pub a week.”
I’m going into teaching with my eyes open and an acceptance of the challenges ahead. It’ll be a rough ride, but now, more than ever, I know I’ve made the right choice.
Glen Fraser has just started a PGDE in English at the University of Strathclyde