Choosing the Right Environment
In all walks of life you're going to get conflicting advise with others telling what is best for you. The only advice I can personally give is go where your gut instinct tells you to go, often this is about volunteering in differing scenarios for you to get a feel for which one is right for you. Whilst the word 'teaching' is used quite generously to describe a profession, the specific skills required in in varying environments can be vast and not suit everyone.
For those doing their PGCE, your training will teach you structures of the classroom and give you a solid foundation to how lessons and scheme of works can be organised, but it can't teach you where you will be best placed, only you can decide that from experience.
I would like to include for you my experience of following a group of actors delivering a theatre in education project trying to teach young people about the dangers of the internet. As part of the school tour I visited a Special School for young children with varying learning needs. The staff were amazing and the atmosphere unique, but on the morning when all the children came excitedly running in to the school hall to watch the performance, all with varying needs, I stood at the back of the hall with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
The attentiveness of the teachers to the students just blew me away, it was far more focused with what seemed like a much greater need for awareness due to the extreme needs of the range of children. Some children in wheelchairs, others severely hampered by their physical needs, and yet all the staff having an awareness of each and every one.
At the end of the performance on young girl had what I can only describe as an hysterical fit, banging some object against a wall because she didn't want the play to end, I watched on as a teacher talked her through her anxiety.
This is not called a Special School by accident, and whilst many apply this term to the needs of the children, for me it was for the special teachers that are required to give so much to these amazing youngsters. For me, this environment was incredibly upsetting, and I realised emotionally I would struggle with this, the pain of others would bare too much down on my shoulders which is all the more credit to the strength and love that those who teach in this environment deserve.
Styles and Techniques
From my experience, the older the pupil is, the more structured the lessons are and the less freedom you have to create unique lessons. With Early Learning their is an incredible visual and kinaesthetic learning which can be employed to get your message across. I'm not saying this cannot be used with older age groups, I've just witnessed it put to greater use in the younger age range. If like me, you're far too emotionally charged, then this may not be the most comfortable place for you to teach, one thing is for sure though, if you can gain some work experience in this area, it will give you a much greater apopreciation of the range of skills that the teaching profession delivers.
The smaller schools may not have the budgets of the larger academies, but this in no way impacts on the quality of their teaching, in fact, I believe in some ways improves it. I had the absolute pleasure of delivering a PSHE Award to one such school, and whilst the walls of the buildings weren't adorned with the spectacular technologies that some of the larger institutions hold, it gave way to a much more innovative style of teaching which was amazing to discover. The wheels of smaller schools can be greased more easily which means original ideas can be adopted much more easily rather than being passed through meetings and meetings for meetings just to get the proposal considered.
So if you are an innovator of teaching styles and methodologies which you want to introduce to your teaching, then there far more likely the opportunity for engagement within a smaller institution than one if its larger rivals.
Whilst there was a feeling of going back in time when I visited this local school, I can only say that it was in the best of ways, with that intimacy and everyone knowing each other which can only be found in smaller institutions. For me it was a school that I would want my children to go to, one that could focus on the individual without the risk of them just becoming a statistic which can be a risk in the larger education models.
PSHE Achievement Award
Whilst I very much pinned my badge to favouring a village school for my own offspring, this doesn't mean that the academies aren't a force to be reckoned with. Whilst for me they often lack the homeliness of a smaller education environment, this doesn't mean that they cannot be unique and inclusive. With a larger budget behind them many would argue they deliver a much more valuable education just by means of a greater buying power, and from a self development perspective, promotional opportunities will be far more accessible.
PSHE Achievement Award
The Selfish Gene
No matter what teaching route you take, I believe there is one thing that is fundamental to being a great teacher, You will have heard the saying many times 'knowledge is power' and in many circumstances this is the case. The mere statement rests on the premise that holding knowledge, gives you greater ability to move mountains and influence those around you.
For me though, in teaching this premise is flawed. In teaching, knowledge is not yours, it is owned by the pupils in front of you, you are the mere deliverer of that knowledge and must hold none back.
For those of you have have an overloaded selfish gene, it will hinder your ability to become a great teacher, holding back knowledge for fear that if someone knows as much as you it makes you weaker, like blood draining through a wound.
I have never seen the philosophy of the act of giving demonstrated better than in the book 'The Science of Getting Rich' by Wallace D. Wattles, a short book which we gladly offer free to you.
The act of giving is a challenge on many of us as it fundamentally attacks an inherent selfishness that we are all born with. To move forward from this, we have to truly understand what giving is, and the phenomenal impact that the act of giving has not only on our learners, but on ourselves and the world around us.
To truly understand the essence of teaching and giving, this is an essential read which I advise everyone to invest in, which also underpins the philosophy of Teacher Central.