My name is Dorothy Anne Mullan. I am a second year student at the University of Huddersfield studying History. Towards the end of my second year I completed a five-week work placement at a secondary school in North Wales, Rhyl High School. I chose to complete this in the space of five weeks as it would allow me to view the day to day running of a school and be able to experience five weeks as a teacher. I chose this placement as I hope to become a secondary school history teacher after I complete my PGCE. This requires a minimum of ten days’ work experience. Although I do have work experience in both primary and secondary education, both of these were in school that I had previously attended, therefore, to enhance my PGCE application and show that I am confident enough to step outside of my comfort zone I decided to complete a placement in a different school.
I began my placement with a role observing classes and acting as a teaching assistant. I would go into a variety of humanities lessons such as History, Religious Education, Law, Classical Civilisations, Geography, Beliefs and Ethics as well as Travel and Tourism, ranging from year 7 to year 11. Initially, I would observe how the teacher taught the lessons, view the children’s attainment and engagement and identify weaker students and help them, if they were struggling. The duties of this role increased as the weeks went by. I was asked to create resources for lessons and revision, plan lessons and actually deliver lessons. This aided my professional and personal development as I was using key skills of humanities graduates such as time and project management, critical thinking, communication, evaluation, analysis, numeracy and literacy. The school will be able to use these materials in the future and I will be able to present them in a portfolio for PGCE applications and interviews. The feedback that I received really helped to boost my confidence and made me feel like I could continually develop the necessary skills to become a secondary school teacher.
Throughout the placement, after morning briefing, I was assigned to a registration class. This allowed me to view not only the educational side of teaching, but the pastoral side too. Many people forget about the skill of compassion that is required to be a teacher, however, I had the opportunity to show that I could be a caring and compassionate member of staff.
This experience was unlike any prior teaching experience that I have completed before. The five weeks really allowed me to engage and interact with both the children and staff, which allowed me to establish connections with them. This made me feel part of a school community, which just goes to show that teaching is not just about lessons but developing skills of social interaction too. This placement will allow me to have more than the minimum days of experience that is required to study for a PGCE, which will put me at an advantage in comparison to other candidates. If you are considering a career in teaching I would highly recommend that you step outside of your comfort zone and seek work experience in different areas and for different lengths of time. A five week placement was very different in comparison to a two week placement and I felt as though I received more out of it as a result. However, this placement has made me realise that the skills acquired by History graduates are not limited to secondary school teaching. Humanities graduates have a vast array of transferrable skills such as time and project management, communication and skills of research and analysis which can be an asset to a variety of work places including primary teaching, museum work and management positions.
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