I came to teacher training straight from studying a sports science course at university in Birmingham. I did a couple of placements whilst at university to get a feel for secondary education, looked at courses in different areas and decided on the GITEP course. I investigated the different routes within their remit, saw the School Direct route with the Odyssey Teaching Alliance online and went for that because it gave me the chance to teach in both a grammar and a comprehensive setting.
As in sport, training to teach is hard work but rewarding. Progress is quick, from day one as a trainee, to teaching a few lessons, to teaching a full timetable as an NQT and I had terrific support from GITEP and the subject leaders. If you have any issues, you’ll always find somebody to help you, either in your placement school, at GITEP, or amongst your fellow trainees, who are also an invaluable source of motivation and lesson ideas.
I found the training year harder than the NQT year, but it was all for a purpose. I was always aware that when I’d ticked all the boxes and completed the training, I’d have free rein to go and teach and, although my workload has increased in my NQT year, I have less paperwork and the reward of being able to teach my class, my way. The course prepared me for when things don’t go quite to plan, so I can easily adapt. I now appreciate the importance of putting the reflections and lesson plans on paper. That gives a really good basis to go and teach good quality lessons.
I did the full PGCE through the University of Bristol. It is an added workload during your training year but interesting, coming straight from university to carry on with the literature research and investigate different pedagogies that you can use, both for teaching in general and within my subject area. It is hard work, coming home from a day’s teaching practice to a load of research and essay writing but I’ve used a lot of it since, so I’m glad I decided to take the PGCE.
My biggest inspiration was my PE teacher, with whom I have kept in touch – I was even invited to his retirement party! He was a great role model who earned the respect of his class with excellent teaching in all areas of PE to GCSE and A level. He understood the importance of keeping up with studies in other subjects and ensured that his PE class kept on top of their maths and English too. His second subject was maths and I guess he inspired me with that too, as maths is also my second subject.
In PE, we need to control large groups in large spaces, either outside or in echoey sports halls and swimming pools, so we’re taught different techniques and tones of voice for this and to be aware, when outside, of which way the wind is blowing, is the sun in the students’ eyes, etc.. I’m helped by my height. Sometimes good learning occurs in a noisy environment but you need to be able to rein it back in again.
I decided to train to teach because I wanted to be able to help students to achieve their full potential. PE has a nice contrast between the practical side and the theoretical and involves both indoor and outdoor activities. I like the idea of promoting excellence and find it very rewarding to see students develop: I like the idea of meeting a student in year 7, following their progress right through to year 13 and of making a positive difference to their life. The majority of my students know the power of being physically active and that, if they find an extra-curricular sport they enjoy, they can be physically active for life. I hope that in the future I’ll hear some good sports stories about students that I’ve taught.