New guest blogger – Physics PGCE Student Teacher in London

This is the first posting from a brave student who is about to start a physics PGCE in London. Having graduated in physics earlier this year, our blogger aims to share his thoughts and experiences with you on a monthly basis – please do add your comments and share your experiences below too!

“Hi all. I’ve got days to go before I embark on my year long journey that is teacher training, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Teaching had always been an ‘if all else fails’ option for me, but a couple of years ago I gave it some genuine thought. I got some full-time work experience in a school after my second year exams and, I know it sounds very cliché, but every day was so different that I never got bored. Each and every day was a great challenge, and although I was tired at the end of every day, I was also so enthused. That was when I applied to do my PGCE.

Everybody told me that getting a physics PGCE place would be a walk in the park. I got rejected from my first choice university. Oops. I was the only physicist in an interview room full of biologists, they still had plenty of physics places to fill, yet they didn’t want me! They sent me an email giving me several areas of improvement for future interviews – my favourite was to increase subject knowledge, which I did think was a little harsh. I kept my chin up and looked forward to my next interview which I made sure I’d be much more prepared for. But then I got a second rejection a week before that interview. This turned out to be an administrative error, which was soon rectified and finally I secured a place.

I’ve been working all summer, so I haven’t particularly prepared for the PGCE yet – being asked to do this blog reminded me that I have a load of stuff I need to do, and I’m very glad I chose to finish my job a week before I start the course. My excitement is building up as I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow PGCE students and I can’t wait to find out what schools I will be working in. I really hope that I get two very different schools to get a better idea of what type of school I would like to teach in later on: maybe a challenging Waterloo Road style place and something more traditional like Hogwarts.

You might think that what I dread most about the coming year would be teaching chemistry or biology as I haven’t done either since GCSE. But believe it or not, I dread teaching KS3 physics the most. During PGCE interviews I realised how difficult it is to explain physics correctly whilst keeping it simple enough for a younger pupil to understand. At university, most concepts are defined by giving an equation – not helpful when trying to explain an alien concept to a year 7 pupil. It is also easy to end up explaining concepts wrongly when trying to simplify, so I think my biggest challenge will be to avoid falling in to this trap.

I don’t know what I will be writing about in my next post about the beginning of my PGCE, but I do know I will have a lot to report. So, I wish everyone who is about to start their teacher training the best of luck – I think we might, at times, need a handful of it.