Introduction to Teacher Training

Five Big Mistakes

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They say that forewarned is forearmed, and never more has this been truer than considering a career in the teaching profession. Whilst teaching can be very rewarding, if you start off on the wrong track it can be soul destroying and a long road of missed opportunities.

 

So, there can only be a couple of reasons why you visited this section, either:

  1. You are considering a career in teaching

  2. You are about to do a BA (Hons) Degree and think that teaching maybe your next step.

  3. You have just completed a BA (Hons) Degree and now that you’ve graduated, you suddenly think, what use is this degree to me? Maybe I will try using it in teaching.

  4. You have few or no qualifications, you hate what you are doing with your life, but you think your life experience could be useful in teaching, but you don’t know where to start.

  5. You are new to teaching and just want a few pointers.

  6. You are looking for new and lucrative opportunities

 

If you fit into any of the above categories, then this section is for you. Please note it condensing videos from some of the other sections on Teacher Central specific to this topic.

When I first started to enquire about teacher training, with the gift of hindsight and knowing what I know now, I can honestly say that my experience was less than perfect. Now please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the advice given to me was purposely incorrect, and maybe, if I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, it might have been my own lack of clarity that caused the confusion, but I was new to all of this!

Nevertheless, had I pursued the advice I was given by the educational institution I sought guidance from, not only would I have wasted thousands of pounds, I would have also ended up two years later with a qualification that was useless to me.

It’s an uncomfortable subject, and one that many are fearful of speaking out about, but education has become a business, with jobs on the line if institutions do not attract the number of students necessary to run their courses. With that, as a ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over many a recruiter’s head, no wonder the weight of their advice often leans towards doing their course, rather than looking at other institutions and options.

With that in mind, let me take you on my journey and what I came across along the way, and tell you about the things you need to consider before you fully commit to any teacher training. I will highlight the five mistakes I nearly made and introduce you to teachers who are already doing the job, and the advice they have given.

Mistake 1
Considering the Wrong Age

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Why do you want to be a teacher? I know it sounds like a simple question, but the real answer is not always what it seems; it’s the answer which is fundamental in helping you find happiness and choose the right course of action. Later on, in part two of the book, we will start developing your self-awareness and looking at what really drives you as a person. Firstly, I would like you to put some thought into what age group you would like to teach.

Whilst this seems like an obvious point, trust me, whilst teaching can be very rewarding, if you end up with an age group that you do not resonate with, it will be soul destroying.

I once organised a drama session for 3-5-year old's, how hard could it be? It turned out to be a total disaster, I wasn’t prepared for the chaos that that presents itself at this age level. Whilst the class had kids who were well behaved and focused, others just wanted to hide behind the long curtains at the back of the hall and one little cherub just wanted to put a bucket over his head and cry. If you think about managing psychotic monkeys in an unruly zoo, then that is pretty much how it felt.

It takes a certain type of person to manage early learners, and that certainly wasn’t me! (I still wake up with night terrors remembering the session!).

I would absolutely encourage you to volunteer to teach in different environments before committing to any specific course of action. I cannot tell you how rewarding teaching is on every single level, but if you start on the wrong path, whilst no means being terminal to your career, it will take you a lot longer to rearrange things to get back on track.

So, before you commit to anything, get a full understanding of what age group you want to teach. Get some voluntary work organised and experience teaching in differing environments and age groups, not only will this improve your ability to teach and understand your comfort zones, it will look great on your CV. 

Mistake 2
To Learn is to Teach

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As part of your teacher training you will need to arrange a set amount of teaching hours. The amount can vary depending on your qualification of study, but on average its around 150 hours of teaching spread across the course of which some of them will be observed. Sometimes the institution that is delivering your teaching qualification can arrange this for you, but most of the time you will have to organise it yourself. So, before you pay that fee, make sure someone can offer you teaching hours.

This is often easy to arrange though, as you will find that teachers overall are very supportive of each other, especially when you begin. A teacher can be quite overloaded with work at certain points of the year, so quite often they will be only too glad to get some help in the classroom, even if you’re a beginner. It’s a bit like learner drivers on the road, it’s a pain to be behind one but we’ve all been there! All teachers have been in your position, so everyone knows that you require these hours. All you need to do is send a few emails around local schools explaining what you need and offering your time for free, and someone will take you up on your offer. ‘Your time for free?’ you may ask.

We will cover this in depth in part two in the section ‘Teaching and Learning the Science of Getting Rich’ but for now, ‘Yes’, in these early days offer your time for free. If the school has some paid work available, then they are far more likely to offer it to someone who has offered their time free then someone who appears to be only in it for the money. Plus, the other huge benefit of this is it’s a great introduction for you to the school or college, who at some point in the future will be looking for teachers, so you can get your foot in the door and get yourself noticed!

Mistake 3
A Kick in the Right Direction 

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Before you do anything, I recommend you apply for your Disclosure & Barring Service Certificate.

A Disclosure and Barring Service check, or DBS, once known as the CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau) is required for teaching. The Disclosure and Barring Service helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.

There are 3 tiers of DBS Checks available:

Basic DBS

The lowest level of disclosure which checks the Police National Computer for details of all current criminal convictions. Often used to support an immigration application, to vet prospective tenants or to volunteer.

Standard DBS

Covers those working in other occupations to children, vulnerable adults and the elderly but where they need to be of ‘good character’ and not have a criminal record. This could include someone applying to be employed as an accountant, working in a pharmacy or legal practice, someone applying for a firearms license or a senior manager at a bank or financial services organisation. Organisations employing someone in this sort of position want to assure themselves that the people they are considering haven’t got a lengthy criminal record for dishonesty, drugs offences or violent crimes.

 

Enhanced DBS

The highest level of disclosure required for those positions that can involve caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults. An Enhanced CRB will show the following offences: sexual, violence, the supply of drugs and safeguarding.

There are two ways to get one of these, you can either apply for one yourself which costs about £45.00 or what happened to me is the school I was going to teach at applied and paid for it for me. There are several types of DBS certificate and the one you should apply for is the ‘Enhanced DBS Check’.

 

Not only will you need one of these to teach, you will also need one to do your teacher training as well, and they can take up to six weeks to arrive.

 

I was thrown off my first course as my DBS certificate hadn’t come through in time. Imagine how embarrassing that was, being told I couldn’t continue the class because of a problem with a delay on my DBS? I don’t know what the other students must have been thinking, but it was most uncomfortable so don’t get caught out like I did.

As it turned out, it was a blessing in disguise. As it meant I couldn’t start my course for another year which gave me the opportunity of not making the mistake of choosing the wrong qualification.

Mistake 4
Rusty Brains
 

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This is one thing that completely took me by surprise, I’m not saying it will happen to everyone, but it happened to me. I arranged my first interview with the college to discuss the teaching qualification I was considering. It was a Certificate of Education or Cert. Ed. The lovely lady told me about the course and issued her advice. A couple of weeks later I had to go and enrol on the course, and it was on this day of enrolment that they took me into a room where I had to do a literacy and numeracy test, without a calculator! It was one of those tests where you had to work out things in your head like,

‘A chef takes an hour to cook 20 doughnuts, each doughnut requires 500 grams of flour, if the chef cooked for 12 hours without a break, how many kilograms of flour will he need?’

OMG! I hadn’t thought in these terms since secondary school where I was forced to copy my answers off smarty Smithers in the Maths class because my brain wasn’t as well-oiled as his, with Mr Hartley the Maths Teacher hovering nearby hosting that little bit of white saliva that used to collect at the side of his mouth when he spoke. The whole flashback brought me out in a hot sweat of panic that made the day quite uncomfortable for me anticipating rejection at every hurdle. But with sweat marks carefully concealed beneath my now clasped armpits, I managed to somehow get through and pass.

Tip: Make sure you wear deodorant

So just before you begin your course, just check whether you need to do one of these tests, and if so, find out when it will happen so you can get yourself in the right mindset. Don’t get caught out like I did and let it ruin your day.

Mistake 5
On the Wrong Track

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You must be vigilant when considering what teacher-training course you want to do. Remember, education is now a business and relies on your fees to keep them afloat. Again, I am not suggesting that anyone in education would purposefully give you incorrect advice, but they do need bums on seats to keep their courses running. So, make sure you ask the right questions and are absolutely clear about what you want to achieve from the qualification.

I was very clear when I went for my interview that I wanted to teach in Higher Education. I was advised to do a Certificate of Education (Cert. Ed.) - this was incorrect advice. This qualification is not relevant to Higher Education. Then as I said previously, this was then delayed by a year by my not having a DBS certificate in time.

I was then told I needed to do a PGCE, again, wrong advice. A PGCE is suitable for most types of teaching, but if it is Higher Education you want to teach in then the better qualification is a Pg.CLTHE (Postgraduate Certificate Learning and Teaching in Higher Education). To Add to this, if you already have some teaching experience, what is even better is that some PgCLTHE courses include the HEA Fellowship within the course, which can save you a whole load of time later on. The HEA Fellowship is an international qualification which endorses your professional ability as a teacher and therefore, holds a lot of kudos, so it is worth considering and if it’s included in the course too it’s a really good bonus!

Overall, my intention is not to stress you out here, it’s just to get you to think about what you want to achieve from teaching and make sure you get what is best for you. Don’t make the mistakes that I nearly made; be confident in asking questions and absolutely pinning down what you’re getting for your money, which will save you a lot of wasted time.

The Final Decision

The final decision is always yours, but it will be a better one if you have considered as many angles and options as possible. Whatever your decision the responsibility is yours. As fellow teachers, we can only be here to share our own experiences with you and help you along the way as much as we can.

 

Part 1 Summary:

  1. Consider what age group you want to teach, and have you had some work experience dealing with this age group? Ask yourself what is it about this age group that makes you feel it is right for you?

  2. Have you thought about where you can arrange some teaching hours to support your teaching course, do you know anyone, or can you get in contact with some past teachers of yours?

  3. Have you applied for your DBS certificate? Discuss with your course leader when it will be needed and consider will you have it in time?

  4. Make sure you ask what will be needed from you before you start the course; are there any supplementary tests that you are required to undertake? Make sure you get a full list of everything you are expected to complete before you turn up on the day.

  5. Create a complete list of everything you want to achieve in teaching, and then make sure that the teaching qualification you are considering provides this, or at least is the right certificate that will take you on the correct route to achieve the required qualification.

 

The main thing is to write down as many questions as you can think of and start now. Do not wait until your day of interview thinking you will remember everything because you won’t, the brain doesn’t work like that. Open your phone now and create a notes section, then every time a question pops into your head you can add it to the list, you cannot have too many questions.

The Teaching Environment

  • On the Front Line

  • Special School Teachers

  • Styles and Techniques

  • Village Schools

  • Academies