Mr Casey, Politics Teacher and Subject Mentor
My role as a mentor is extremely rewarding and enables me to give back to the profession. An opportunity I have found to be invaluable. It helps me to reflect constantly on my own pedagogy and keep abreast of the changing landscape of teaching, as well as uncover new innovative ways to ensure that our students receive a first-class education. The support and community we operate under at the Manchester NEXUS is exceptional and I am proud to be a key part of it.
Catherine Woodward – Professional Mentor – Secondary
(Used to be an MFL subject mentor)
Last year, I loved being a subject mentor as I was constantly challenged and innovated by my trainee. I really enjoyed having professional discussions and watching her develop and flourish throughout the year. At a time when teaching is constantly being undermined and there is an increasing lack of new colleagues entering a career in teaching, it is a privilege to help shape and guide trainees on their journey to become the next generation of teachers, who instil the joy of learning in our pupils. I was so inspired by my role as a subject mentor that this year I am now a professional mentor and have the honour of challenging and inspiring trainees in a range of subject areas across the school.
Sarah Roberts – Primary
Taking the plunge into teacher training was easily the best career decision I have made! Every day is completely different, you get challenged in ways you never thought possible, you laugh more than you thought possible, and there’s no better feeling than coming home after a busy day knowing you’ve made a difference to a child’s life – even if it’s small! For me, teaching is the career that doesn’t feel like ‘work’, and that’s the best of all!
Darianne Brown – Secondary Mathematics
Why I teach?
Having worked in corporate roles previously, I knew that what I now needed was a career in which I was doing something that I believed in. I wasn’t motivated at the end of each month as the aim was simply to generate more and more money which just didn’t seem right to me. I need to feel as though I am making a positive contribution to the world and that everything that I do is for something that I am passionate about. That’s what teaching is for me. First of all, I have such as a strong love for my subject (Maths) so it fills me with joy to just simply be exploring the subject again. But more importantly, I can work with, teach and inspire young people which just makes it more special and worthwhile. Even in these very early stages, I am starting to see the benefits of working in this profession. What a student in one of my lessons looked at me and said “Miss, this is magic” when she was working through maths problems, I knew I had made the right decision.
One of my main fears about teacher training was being thrown in at the deep end. So far, I have felt extremely comfortable and I and my mentor have worked together to ensure that I am working at my own pace. I am loving the process so much more than I could have ever imagined and I am so glad to have taken the leap of faith. Teaching can get such bad press and it’s understandable that people may be hesitant to join the profession but all I can say is that, so far, the positives majorly outweigh any struggles and I would urge anyone considering teaching to go for it.
Rachel Hall, Secondary – Mathematics
The lightbulb moment is one of my favourite things. It makes any stressful lessons or stressful evening planning or worrying all worth it!
The moment they get something and seeing their happiness and eagerness to carry on and work on the next thing just makes me smile and it makes everything worth it.
Why I teach?
Why I am training to teach, is to help provide the variety of opportunities to all young people and help guide them to where they want to be. Being part of the generation who teaches the next generation and passes on this knowledge is vital and rewarding. It gives me a sense of achievement when the young people achieve!
Training to teach with Manchester Nexus is a fantastic opportunity to get a real sense of what school life is, as you train in a school from day 1. You get to experience the start of the year and the end of the year, so you can see how the school sets out their expectations and how they finish and celebrate a successful school. This is important for in understanding what the school expects from you and therefore sets out what your expectations are for your students, as well as being able to see the success that has been achieved from all the hard work which started on day 1. Being part of a SCITT, means you get all the support you need from a variety of people and get experience from a wide range of activities and people. Joining NEXUS will give you many more opportunities to explore your passion or even find a new passion which is encouraged.
Charlotte Blackhurst – current Nexus Primary trainee.
I have been working this week on a focus group of children who are struggling in maths. One child, who has recently moved from Asia, sits next to me. He struggles a lot but tries so hard. This week we have been drawing number lines for addition. Throughout the week I have seen such progress with him, both on paper but also by the massive grin he has on his face when he gets the answer correct. His transformation in one week is amazing, and the fact that I can make that difference is really rewarding.
Why I teach?
I teach because as cliché as it sounds, I wanted to make a difference every day to the lives of others.
The Nexus SCITT really suited me as a training programme whereby I can learn hands-on. I have had a very positive experience so far; the team is friendly, and my classes are very informative. I am learning so much every day and cannot wait to apply this learning to the classroom.
Alicia McMorrow – Secondary – Religious Studies
Why I teach?
I want to teach because of my passion for broadening young people’s minds. Religious Studies is a subject that can tackle the big questions in life and to be a part of a young person learning to challenge their point of view and engage in dialogue with others and equip themselves with critical thinking skills is a powerful, privileged and rewarding role.
Secondary – Social Sciences.
Something I recall from the first year of my PhD (Sociology) over ten years ago was that we were expected to lead our own seminar groups for undergraduates. There were about fifteen undergrads in my group. This included marking an essay they were required to submit: giving a grade and a few comments. My peers diligently and, quite rightly, awarded a mark and a few encouraging comments. My own thoughts were that this was an opportunity to give extensive feedback and guidance to young adults learning about the requirements and style of academic writing. I set about dissecting each essay with ways in which they could improve each phase of their writing. I put a number next to the sentence or word in the essay and then on a separate piece of paper I typed up my thoughts for them. I returned each essay to them with pages of notes that they could use and look back on for the next three years of their course. To this day I have no idea if it helped them or not in the long-term. I did not see the students in the following years. The office staff said they had never seen a doctoral candidate go to such lengths before and that it had been appreciated. Although time consuming, to me it was the most natural thing to do. I wanted to help as best I could, rather than go through the (perfectly acceptable) motions.
Many years later, having gone on to pursue other passions, I took a Support, Teaching and Learning course and I was employed as a Teaching Assistant by the school I had volunteered with as a requirement of that course. I was aware that my prospects lay in and around the teaching profession but at that stage I was not entirely sure which route I would take. My TA role was at a big and challenging secondary school. The Inclusion department was quite large, and the staff were excellent. Nonetheless it was a sharp learning curve to suddenly have responsibility for the learning and behaviour of a diverse range of pupils across all ages and subjects, many of whom had particular needs. It was probably the best experience I could have asked for. As a TA I could now observe a plethora of teaching styles and approaches to behaviour management and face the general day to day challenge of establishing boundaries with pupils around the school, not just in lessons. As a TA it was sometimes hard to command the full respect of pupils who know you are not the ultimate decision maker. Now, in a teaching capacity, this underscores the responsibility I have with regard to building relationships with pupils that embed notions of respect and cooperation with all staff at all times.
As a TA I was situated with my SEN pupils and they were my primary focus. I tried to imagine what I would do if I was the teacher when difficult situations arose, and it can be easy to spot ‘errors’ when it is not you that is ultimately responsible for delivering the lesson. I came up with my own ‘solutions’ whilst noting the particular strengths of each teacher. I was effectively beginning my observation notes, one of the first things you do at your school as an associate teacher in the Nexus training programme.
From the very outset, my department at the Blue Coat School have made me nothing but welcome and a part of their team – more so than I expected given how busy they are at the start of term. The first day was about helping the department get ready for the influx of over 1700 pupils. On my second day I got underway with my observation timetable and was attached to a form class to shadow. At the end of my second day I went to Oldham Hospital where my wife gave birth to our second son shortly after midnight (twelve days later than planned)! My subject mentor urged me to take the time I was entitled to which was nice to hear.
As I type, I have in my own mind – and I had this from prior to starting at the school – a desire and a sense of purpose to demonstrate a professional willingness to do everything I can in my role. Not just to be led and guided but to lead for myself and guide others. One of the defining differences so far from being a TA is that I am involved with lessons around which I have some knowledge or expertise. I can think about how I would deliver key points and ideas and why I would do so in a particular way, how I would talk about key authors and concepts, how I would encourage a high standard of writing and which strategies I would employ so that pupils can recall key information. These and several other considerations are embedded in the observation timetable we receive for the first couple of weeks of term. I am a part of my school. I shadow the form at form time, go with them to assemblies and all the trainees attend the professional training sessions on Wednesdays to learn important skills and strategies and share information and experiences.
Having previously worked across several industries it is striking how professional and invested the Nexus team are in the development of their trainees. Their dedication to our growth as rounded, skilled and professional practitioners – and the extensive support they offer from the outset of being accepted on the course – is always evident. From that the expectations of us as trainees is clear: this will be a big challenge and I could not be in a better place to meet that challenge head-on.