Here is this week’s post by Taylor Cornes who is in her first year training to be a primary teacher at University of Worcester.
I recently had the opportunity as a first year student to attend a career conference held at my university for the second year undergraduate primary teachers. The conference was organised in response to requests by previous students who were eager to find out what additional opportunities are available to them when they qualify as teachers. The day was well structured and the second year undergraduates were able to book themselves into 3 of the 7 workshops that were running prior to the day of the conference.
The conference started with a keynote from a head teacher of a local primary school, Julie Rees. Julie gave an extremely inspirational talk about how her dreams of becoming a head teacher became reality. She shared her favourite mantras and quotes and I found these to be very humbling and relatable. A quote by Christa McAuliffe “I touch the future, I teach” teamed with the heart-wrenching story behind her sudden death after being chosen to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project really emphasised what an amazing career myself and the second year undergraduates were training for. The introductory talk by Julie Rees was intimate in its nature as she drew on personal experiences throughout.
The first workshop that I attended was all about headship and deputy headship. Saroj Bell, a former head teacher, conducted the workshop. I felt that the session was interactive and engaging, whilst being relatable and Saroj talked us through the different positions she had been in before becoming a head teacher. The advice given was empowering and I left the workshop feeling determined with the mindset that anything is possible if you work hard for it.
The second workshop I attended was entitled Teaching in the Independent Sector. Josephine Parkinson led this workshop and gave information through personal experience about what it is like to teach and work for an independent school. The advice that Josephine gave was honest, and I felt that she painted a realistic view of the daily routines during an average school day, which allowed us as students to weigh up the pros and cons. Josephine also touched on transitioning between independent and state schools in response to a student’s question, which I felt the majority of students were eager to ask.
The final workshop that I attended was led by Matt Anderson, and the main focus was on subject coordinators. Throughout his talk he gave useful advice to the students on what tools not only subject coordinators need, but teachers in general. He discussed the roles and responsibilities that subject coordinators have, and drew on what it’s like being a teacher and following a subject coordinators leadership.
The latter part of the afternoon began with a series of CPD case studies, starting with a talk from Nina Stone about her NQT year. She gave advice and tips to the second year undergraduates about interviews and finding the right school and position for them. Nina stressed never losing sight of your vision as an NQT, and not being afraid of being different and not “fitting the mould”.
Xiang Shi, a primary school teacher from Shanghai, China shared a variety of pictures and stories about life as a teacher in China, and both the similarities and differences between his city and ours. I found it to be an enlightening presentation with many humorous elements as Xiang discussed his duties as a teacher, which resulted in an extremely engaging talk, and opened the eyes of myself and many of the second year undergraduates.
To conclude the conference Rachel Barrell, the leader of the Primary Initial Teacher Education course, gave a talk on the role of a school governor – a role that she has in addition to her commitments as a course leader at the University of Worcester. I thought that the talk was interesting as I have always been intrigued as to what school governors do and how they contribute to schools.
Overall, I felt that the career conference was tremendously informative and beneficial to the second year undergraduates and myself as trainee teachers. The general feedback from the students was positive and many used the word “inspiring” in their evaluations. One student that I spoke to thought that it was helpful to see the various routes a teacher can take as teaching is often portrayed as a ‘one-path’ career. I personally felt that the range of speakers along with the common theme of drawing on practice and personal experience made the conference relatable, motivating and enthusing to myself as an aspiring teacher.