During the 2015 Spring term I was given the opportunity to experience teaching hands-on at the Brompton Academy in Gillingham. More precisely, this placement involved assisting the Spanish Department with their lessons and assessments. It took place every Wednesday morning for ten weeks. Even though there is a shuttle service between the Canterbury and Medway campuses, I discovered on the first day that is not a viable option for transport, as I did not make it in time for the first class, starting at 8:30 – for this, I had to drive to the school. I was very grateful for help from University of Kent Work Experience Bursary.
The placement has been an enriching experience, which had a significant influence on my career plan. While helping the teachers at Brompton Academy, I observed closely the challenges and rewards of teaching. This has determined me to reconsider secondary school teaching as a career.
Creating and carrying out activities in school, such as the ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ exercise with year 8 students, improved my confidence, as children are a challenging and demanding public. This will help me in the future when it will be required to speak in front of a crowd. Furthermore, it taught me the value of team work, because teaching is the fruit of cooperation and require constant communication between members of staff.
Working with children also enhanced my creativity, as I tried to keep them engaged and facilitate the learning process. While creativity and team work are key to the creation and planning of an activity, flexibility is essential to its development, because as the title of Dr Paul Tosey’s paper suggests, teaching is on the edge of chaos. While this is particularly true for the learning environment, it is equally applicable to working environments as proven by Herbert Simon. Consequently, this placement has prepared me to better handle complex situations and adapt to the needs of the people around me.
This complex context of school has also made me more empathetic and understanding of the uniqueness of people, which allows me to adapt better to them in order to achieve the best result. Moreover, it has shown me the importance of initiative and enthusiasm, as they are core elements in the process of motivating others, be it twenty twelve-year-olds or members of a team.
In conclusion, the placement at the Brompton Academy has been an extremely valuable experience for me, as it provided me with a hands-on experience of teaching. This helps me to take better decisions about my career path and enriches many skills, such as flexibility, team work, creativity or confidence.
– Constantin Catalin Rigu is a 3rd year European Studies student.