Tuesday, 21 February 2017

So you want to be a teacher?

Something inside you has persuaded you that becoming a teacher is your career choice; it could be that you have been a cub, brownie, guide or scout leader, working with young people. Gymnastics, swimming, dance, various sports all encourage young people to undertake coaching courses with the idea of sharing skills with young children. Leading or taking part in holiday schemes have led to the career choice. My favourite was a prospective candidate talking animatedly about helping children with disability to overcome fear and attempt to climb.

It doesn’t have to be one of these routes. Many people enter teaching later in life, having had an initial career and seek greater job satisfaction; some will have had families. Often they have had a transitional route via a teaching assistant role or as a helping parent in school. This, in itself, sometimes leads to a school persuading them to pursue the route to becoming a teacher.
Whatever the route, the process will have similar elements, which are worth considering, so that the application has the greatest chance of making an impression on the member of university, TSA or SCITT staff who has the responsibility of inviting candidates for interview.

This puts special emphasis on the personal statement in support of the application. While the candidate might be writing the application through UCAS to a number of training places, there are some simple “rules of thumb” that might get that all important interview. At that point, you will have the chance to talk more about yourself and your personal statement will be a guide to the interviewer to develop their questions.

  • Write a rough draft of any personal statement, then work on it to ensure it is as clear as possible. Have someone proof read it to offer additional ideas and identify grammatical and spelling errors.
  • This personal statement is about you and you, as a person, should come through. Remember, the person reading it only has the words to go on. You need to shine through. Communication is a key teacher skill and the written word should how your ability in that area.
  • Before your interview, you will need to show that you have had some experience in a school setting – this will vary between training programmes so check the requirements. This could be spread over time, or could be a couple of weeks. What did you learn from this experience? 
  • Why did you choose your particular A levels, BTEC or first degree? How do these subjects, or maybe the teachers, impact on your decision to become a teacher?
  • Why have you chosen a particular subject specialism for teacher training? Why does it particularly interest you?
  • Consider the specific event that made you think about becoming a teacher. How do you see yourself in a teacher role?
  • What do you do that will show yourself in a broader light? Do you have specific interests or hobbies? Do you visit galleries or museums, or perhaps your interests are in conservation, walking, camping, playing music or travelling? Do you do volunteer activity for charity? Everything is important to create a rounded a picture of you.
  • Have you had responsibility in school, college or work experience? Describe and unpick how this might relate to a teaching role.
  • Beyond becoming a teacher, how will this role enhance your view of yourself in the future?
  • Reread everything that you have written and share it with a teacher, lecturer or, if you’re working in a school, the head teacher. 

How you think, how you talk and how you reflect should come through your application. It is a first step. The interview awaits.

Chris

Over a 40-year career in education, Chris Chivers has worked as a teacher, head teacher, university tutor, assessor and adviser. Chris now uses his experience to support developing teachers. A regular blogger at Chris Chivers (Thinks), you can find also him on Twitter @ChrisChivers2
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Thinking of applying for teacher training programmes?

Thinking of applying for teacher training programmes? There are lots of things to consider before you apply, and it can be quite daunting to know where to start.

Here’s our top five places you should check out, full of advice on how to apply.

1. Our website

The first place to start is our website. You’ll find out information on how to pick the right programme for you. Get in-depth information on which route into teaching fits you.

2. Video wall 

Our video wall is full of advice on many topics you’ll need to know about when applying for teacher training programmes. Need a hand filling in your application? Not sure how to prepare for interviews? We’ve got it covered on our video wall!

3. Free UCAS Teacher Training pack

Our teacher training pack is a must if you’re applying. It’s a free online pack, containing all the information and advice you need to apply, and what to expect after your application has been sent.




4. Our dedicated blog page


We have a range of advice on our dedicated UCAS Teacher Training blog. It covers subjects from advice on applying, to case studies from current teachers – to give you an insight into what to expect.
5. Get into Teaching

Finally, register with Get into Teaching for tailored advice and support. You can also follow them on Twitter for info on getting into teaching, and to keep up-to-date with any upcoming events or changes in the sector.

If you have any questions about applying for teacher training programmes, get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll do their best to help.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Gap year or study?

Can't choose? Here's how to do both...
If you haven’t yet made plans for the next academic year, consider this – you already have everything you need for a unique, fulfilling gap year, right there in your rucksack.
In today’s super-connected world, there is a wealth of knowledge at our disposal. Whether it’s watching YouTube videos, listening to a podcast, or reading a blog, we can now learn almost anything online. All it takes is a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and an internet connection.
So instead of spending thousands of pounds on an expensive gap-year package, some school leavers are deciding to simply spend that time learning – their way, their rules.
Thanks to sites like edX and Coursera, the doors of the world’s best universities are now open to us all. Offering free online courses known as MOOCs (massive open online courses), schools such as Harvard, Berklee, the University of London, and the Sorbonne, provide classes that include lectures, reading materials, a student community, and assessment (if you wish), all for free. You choose the classes, and you choose when you learn.
These are just two of the many websites that provide classes on almost anything you can think of. Other examples are Tuts+, which teaches skills including coding, illustration, photography, and web design, and the BBC Academy which features online learning resources in journalism and media production. The more you look, the more you will find.
And don’t forget the real world. Many of the bigger online courses organise meet-ups to bring people together. You may also choose to supplement your online learning with a local community class – there are some fantastic ones out there.
From art to business, a growing number of professionals offer advice – you can create your own degree! One American artist has even taken the time to write up his guide to an alternative to art school, at a fraction of the $200,000 many US students pay for a college degree.
Taking time to really explore what you’re interested in might be one of the best investments you’ll ever make. You might realise the expensive course you thought you wanted to do isn’t quite your bag after all, or find yourself heading in a whole new direction.
Of course, for some of the more traditional professions, such as law and medicine, you can’t get around the requirement of a university degree. Even so, a year of self-guided study will help you build up knowledge and skills that will help you once you undertake formal training, as well as nail down the areas you’re most interested in.
If this sounds interesting, but you’re getting cabin fever at the mere thought of spending any more time in your bedroom, there’s a solution – creative co-working spaces.
Also known as 'hot desking', you rent a desk to work or study, mix it up and meet other like-minded people. East London’s Hatch is a great option, and at only £12 a day, it won’t break the bank. There are similar outfits all over the UK.
Spending a year exploring and learning doesn’t have to mean you can’t travel the world as well. If you’ve got some money saved, you could rent a room abroad and live like a local in another city. Or you might go with a cheap hostel and hot desk option. Explore by day, feed your brain by night – you decide.
Now more than ever, you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to designing your education. Whether your passion is applied mathematics or circus arts, law or industrial design, you’re in creative control, and the tools you need are just a click away...