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Chris Pitts

Chris Pitts

MFL Trainee 2018-19

"The feeling I get when a student understands something I have explained to him or her, is fantastic and something I have not experienced in the different jobs I have had before."

I was in the final year of my Modern Languages BA Degree when I attended a ‘Get into Teaching’ event held at my university. I went along with a friend, with an open mind, because at that stage I had not yet decided in what direction my career would be going after graduation. There were several different organisations, but the one that stood out was Weydon (now i2i). I thought that my age (I was 53 at the time) could be an issue but was convinced otherwise which gave me the encouragement to follow up and apply to Weydon.

One of the things I had to do was spend 10 days observing lessons in schools which gave me a clearer idea of what was involved. The application process can be difficult as it is necessary to deal with UCAS , however, the help and guidance I received from Tammy at Weydon was fantastic and I was guided every step along the way. I was invited to attend an interview and was asked to give a Spanish lesson to three students lasting 20 minutes. The students had to give feedback to the experienced teachers, who were interviewing, and fortunately I must have left a reasonably good impression on them as I was offered a place the following week. I attended an welcome evening last June (2018) and another day in the summer and met my fellow trainees.  However, one other condition,was to undertake a SKE in French. My degree is in German and Spanish, but most schools teach French with one of the above languages. It was an online course which was very convenient as I could choose what and how many hours I did each day.

In addition to the above, I had to take my skills tests and would encourage anyone taking them to practise the questions you can find online which are typical of what can be expected in the skills tests.

The course started in September and we had to attend training at Weydon every Monday and Friday until October Half Term. The other three days were spent at my First Placement where I was eased into teaching in the presence of my mentor, who would give me feedback after every lesson. It was tough at first, as expectations are high and I found coping with everything quite difficult. However, we were warned of this at the two introduction days last summer and were that we would be facing some real challenges in our first year. I received some crucial support and have come through it to be in a better place psychologically. After half term, we only attended Weydon on a Monday and at the beginning of January, I started at my second placement. This has been a really good experience, as I feel more confident now and am receiving great advice from the three language teachers there.

For those of you who feel you are too old, or you are in a completely different field of work, I can understand why you might be reluctant to try teaching. However, I would say give it a go. The feeling I get when a student understands something I have explained to him or her, is fantastic and something I have not experienced in the different jobs I have had before, which include working in a private bank as a SWIFT Payments Officer, at the Job Centre, at Richmond Family Court, and running a pub for six years. Therefore, I would say that it is not really important what you have done in the past, or what profession you are working in now, but what you can bring to the table. The experience you have gained could prove really useful in a school environment.

It is very demanding studying for the PGCE as well as the QTS, as time is a major factor for everybody. If I can get the PGCE as well it would be fantastic, but I understand you can choose to take the QTS on its own.

Here we are in February and there is some light at the end of the tunnel! It has been a bumpy ride so far, but also a great experience and one I would not have missed for the world. I am now looking forward to spending the rest of my career in the challenging but extremely rewarding teaching profession.

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