Before starting my PGCE course at Cardiff Met to become a Secondary English Teacher, I expected to be surprised by the unexpected. However, that didn’t involve the closure of schools, an international pandemic and virtual teaching. Despite the unprecedented circumstances, this has been the best year of my life. I fell in love with teaching, met inspirational people and learnt that teachers truly will go above and beyond for their students.
The primary part of the PGCE involves hitting the ground running. How else will you learn to be a teacher unless you teach? This teaching, which many of us had never done before, is underpinned by pedaological principles discussed at university, 1-2-1 support of university and school mentors and a beautiful community of aspiring and current teachers. I guarantee that anyone who leaves this course will feel inspired and eager to help the future generations in the classroom.
Of course, a good amount of this course ended in being a significant distance away from the classroom. When schools closed and I had an abrupt break from teaching four days a week, university on a Friday and working my part-time job at a supermarket, I thought I would take a much-needed break (at least for a few days). Instead, I felt utterly lost. This is when I decided to draw together fellow Secondary PGCE students, who I felt were feeling the same way, to pool resources and create a Home Learning Programme. Over thirty student teachers came together in the pandemic and worked together to help parents with this daunting need for immediate home schooling. The resources we created covered a range of Secondary subjects and were all collated together using Microsoft OneNote, which I then shared with parents.
This project was not a factor of our subject knowledge or bachelor’s degrees. It was fuelled entirely by passion and a desire to help students with their education. Student teachers were working hard to upload content, university mentors were checking in and supporting us with the task and there was a general feel for the classroom that we were missing, albeit a virtual one.
A global pandemic cannot stop education. Whilst children were learning from home so were we. Presentations were delivered via PowerPoint along with a calming voice over (it was nice to hear someone familiar and have a sense of reality back). Weekly video calls were held for our subject sessions which not only informed us about various methods of teaching but also provided the opportunity to ensure that everyone was doing okay and taking care of themselves.
This has truly been a phenomenal and once in a lifetime course that I would urge anyone with a love for education or teaching to partake in. I never thought that my life could change so much in a year and yet this course has changed my life and future in the most incredible way. Through the support of university mentors and school staff I’m now counting down the days until I start my first teaching position in September. I will be teaching English Key Stage 3 & 4 at a Secondary school in Blaenau Gwent and and I couldn’t be more excited. There may be more challenges down the road but through the skills I have learnt and honed on this course I am eager to face them.