Teaching in FE is very different from the mainstream sectors. Having previously worked in the primary and secondary sectors as a cover supervisor, exam invigilator, and PPA Music Teacher, I have seen a degree of difference between these sectors. My choice, however, still remains with FE for my teaching career.
The passion in older students for their subject is a motivating factor and it is clear that students want to do well. This means I spend less time worrying about behaviour management, constantly checking whether students are they on task, and more time teaching the subject. The age of my current class ranges from 16-24 years old, some of them are in the last part of their educational journey before finding work or returning to education from employment. Consequently, this makes the link between learning and employment more present in lessons, combining a mix of both practical and theory in my teaching.
One of the best parts of a teaching career is working with a diverse group of students and watching their progression. Especially the students that may have started my class lacking confidence in their abilities and subject. For example, I set up a creative writing task for my students. One of my less confident students, in particular, did extremely well. I had the opportunity to give her a lot of positive feedback and praise for her effort. The boost she received from my feedback was great to see, and it positively impacted her future approach to written work. Some of my favourite moments consist of memories like these because they reveal just how much of a difference you can make as a teacher.
My subject area is music, and as a musician myself, I have enjoyed the option of being able to teach the more vocational, practical side of my classes. Students are also very keen and focused to learn the predominantly practical nature of the subject. A lot of our classrooms are equipped with the resources and spaces student’s need to learn and are designed to imitate what you would expect to see in the industry. This has enabled me to teach in a way that encourages students to view themselves as developing music professionals, being prepared for something outside the classroom; rather than just being given information.
The placement has been enjoyable and interesting. It has been great to see growth and development in my students and I feel I have really impacted lives for the better. The day to day dynamics of placement is different based on the module I am teaching.
Practical modules start with students being in the same classroom. I usually give an introduction, share lesson outcomes, share what their targets and tasks for the lesson are, and then initiate discussions about which rooms they will use. While students work in separate rehearsal rooms; I check up on them regularly, analyse their progress as a group and individuals, advise them on how to improve their material and provide feedback to stretch or challenge them further. This means they are consistently encouraged to keep striving forward in their progress.
The more theory based sides of the course are completed in a classroom with computers. Students sit at the computer they will use as soon as they come into the classroom. Quite often I will have a presentation which I refer to make sure all the necessary information is covered. However, there is some flexibility in these lessons often influenced by student questions or points they have made. At the beginning of the lesson I share desired outcomes, explain how the lesson content is relevant to them and then set their appetiser activity. These lessons often consist of research, debates, discussions and paper-based tasks.
Whilst completing my PGDE I have been self-employed. After completing the course I would like to get a job in a college or the adult education sector. I am even considering working abroad!
About the Blogger
Our Trainee Music Teacher, Denise has worked in primary and secondary school settings and is now training on the PGDE (FE and Skills) course
she is also currently working self-employed whilst studying.
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