United Teaching Blog

Teaching Geography: “You have the opportunity to blow their minds”


Geography trainee Alice is passionate about her subject. Now that her training year is drawing to a close, she reflects on the best features of her new career and why you should join her in training to teach geography.

    1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I think that deep down I have always wanted to be a teacher. However, I was scared because I hated public speaking and I thought I wasn’t confident enough to manage behaviour and be respected by students.

I was 33 when I finally felt ready to apply!

I had been working with young people running intervention programmes for a social enterprise that aimed to support aspiring students from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain experience in the corporate sector. A lot of the work I did was based in schools and spent talking to young people. It was clear to me what an impact their teachers had on their lives. I heard so many stories of teachers who believed in them and encouraged them, that gave them the confidence to word hard and imagine a positive future for themselves. I wanted to have the opportunity to make that kind of difference.

    1. Why is it important to you that young people learn about geography?

I believe it is the subject of our time! It tackles global issues such as the climate crisis and enables students to engage with critical debates about the world we live in. I think that teaching in an urban environment it is also important as it helps students to appreciate and understand the natural environment and it inspires curiosity about the world and an appreciation of other cultures and nationalities. Geography gives students an awareness of geopolitical issues and skills students with the ability to look critically at the news and challenge stereotypes. I think that to inspire in them a love of planet so that they potentially grow up as people who will work to protect it is such an important job!

    1. What are the most rewarding aspects of the job?

Each day is rewarding and that’s one of the main motivations for wanting to be a teacher!

However, there are a few things that have stood out to me so far…

Every half term at Paddington Academy, the students are encouraged to write appreciation cards to teachers. Reading messages from students who you didn’t even know were enjoying the lessons, saying how much they now love Geography and they want to do it at A-level is really rewarding!

Building relationships with students has also been very rewarding. Some of them can be distrustful of new teachers and may put up barriers. However, over time it has been really nice to see how once they get to know you, their opinion of you changes and they start to ask for help and engage more with your lessons and your feedback.

Also, on a more personal level it has been incredibly rewarding to develop so much over such a short space of time. I think as an adult it is quite rare to learn a new skill or attempt something challenging. However, the teacher training year is so intense and I have learnt so much and improved in my subject knowledge, my confidence, my teaching skills, that kind of professional and personal growth has been very exciting.

    1. What would you say to someone thinking about training to teach geography?

Go for it!

I don’t think there is a more fascinating subject to teach. It is so varied and lets you discover every corner of the world and such a breadth of issues. It is also so topical! The students can engage with what you teaching them because you can bring in what is going on around them. For example, looking at maps and data about the coronavirus, it’s all geography! In Most lessons, you have the opportunity to blow their minds. I remember teaching a Year 9 lesson about global energy demand and watching the reaction from the students when they realised that not every person has access to electricity in their homes - it changed the whole way that they view the world. Not all careers give you that opportunity on a daily basis!


Feeling inspired? 



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