Jessa Chambers

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Why did you decide to train as a teacher? 

I was aware for some time before applying to University that I wanted to train to be a teacher so applying to do my PGCE was the next natural step after completing my degree. Being in a position to motivate and inspire students to learn, build their ideas and develop as people is both fundamental and rewarding. As a teacher you are making a difference to the lives of young people, and in society, every day – and no two days are alike!

Why did you choose to train with Pathfinder & the University of York?

I chose to train with York primarily because of the positive experience I had of the city during my undergraduate years. The sense of culture and history inherent within York creates an amazing environment to live in, and is a great resource to tap into for teaching and learning. I felt that being familiar with the University and the city would be huge asset during my teacher training year.

During my degree I also became familiar with some of the schools in York and had lots of respect for the positive values and approaches of teachers and students in York schools, which I knew would provide the perfect environment to train in during my PGCE year. Having lived in York for three years as an undergraduate, I felt I would be able to understand and relate to students in and around York better than if I had trained elsewhere.

What have been particular highlights of your training so far?

One highlight of my training which I did not anticipate is how accepting my placement school has been. Trainees are treated no differently to qualified teachers, being given the same amount of respect and responsibility as any teacher would. After being a student at university with little responsibility and having the work I completed making little impact on anything other than my own results, it is unbelievably rewarding to be accepted into a school where everyone works together to make a positive impact on the progress of pupils. It is a daily highlight to fulfil this role by bringing my own ideas and approaches to the table, and having these be respected by experienced professionals.

Another highlight of my training has been the level of collaboration with other trainees. There is lots of scope in teacher training for collaboration and discussion, as teaching is based around working with people and sharing knowledge. Every trainee has different skills and experiences to draw on and sharing ideas and approaches is a huge source of strength. I have found it very reassuring having lots of contact with trainees in my subject area and my placement school from the onset of my PGCE and the course in general is very sociable. I’ve found it is impossible to ever feel lonely or isolated as a trainee teacher!

What advice would you give to current University of York undergraduates in your subject area who are thinking of teaching and considering doing their training at York?

One of the best things I did to prepare for teacher training was getting some experience working in schools and with pupils as an undergraduate. York University has some fantastic opportunities to do this, such as the @Work Project and YSIS. Thinking actively about what you are learning and how you can apply this as a teacher is also an excellent practice to get into in preparation for your teacher training. “Liking” the YSIS page on Facebook was a simple but effective way for me to keep myself updated of upcoming opportunities events and deadlines.

I have already found some of the modules and texts I studied as an undergraduate extremely helpful to draw upon during my PGCE, whereas others are far less relevant, so it is worth considering a couple that would link into classroom practice or the current national curriculum, especially if you are certain about going into teaching after your degree. As an English secondary teacher you will be required to teach English Language as well as Literature, so a module with some coverage of language/linguistics could also be really helpful.

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