Case study

PGCE further education — Rosie Tootell

After taking a Masters in Archaeology, Rosie signed up for a PGCE at Edge Hill University. She's now working alongside, and still learning from, the teacher who initially inspired her in college

How did you get into teaching?

I thought teaching would provide me with the opportunity to share my love of classical civilisation/ancient history with others. I had a great A-level teacher at college who made tasks interactive, interesting and informative. I'm lucky to be learning from her now in my teaching capacity. When I was appointed I was both terrified and excited - I'd not had a lot of teaching experience, but I was looking forward to the prospect.

What's a typical day like?

I'm part-time, so a typical day usually means teaching two to three classes of around 20 students. If I'm not teaching, I'm usually in the humanities office, planning lessons, making powerpoints and resources, marking student work, and catching up with colleagues.

What do you enjoy about your job and what are the challenges?

The best thing about my job is the students. Classical civilisation is quite a niche subject, so students are usually really interested. They ask lots of questions and we have a lot of fun during lessons.

I've found the balance between fun and discipline quite challenging - making sure that students enjoy themselves but at the same time making sure that work is done on time and to a high quality. It's difficult but rewarding when this balance is met.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My BA is in Classical Archaeology & Ancient History and my MA is in Archaeology - the modules within the A-level I'm currently teaching cover a lot of the material culture of the ancient world (Greek statues, architecture, vases, etc.) so there's been a lot of crossover with what I learnt at university. However, I still have to learn new material to keep up-to-date.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I've become much more independent. I'm hoping to move to a more full-time role, potentially as a course leader at A-level, but I'd also consider moving into higher education.

How do you become a teacher?

After getting your degree in the area in which you'd like to teach, you should try to get voluntary teaching experience. This will help you get a feel for teaching and whether it's right for you. A PGCE provides further first-hand teaching experience, but also gives you insight into what goes into teaching - planning, creating resources, the theories behind teaching and learning, and what is best practice. Don't be put off by unsuccessful job applications; I had a number of rejections before landing my current role.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Plan - I try to plan lessons at least one week in advance. It's less stressful knowing what's coming up, and it also gives you plenty of chance to amend lessons based upon student progress and feedback.
  • Don't let one bad lesson/bad day get you down - Reflect upon why it went wrong, how you can improve, and treat the next one as a clean slate.
  • Try and keep up-to-date and organised - Making sure that assignments are completed on time takes a load off your shoulders.

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