Teaching science is an incredibly rewarding and essential job. Our students need enthusiastic science teachers to inspire their curiosity in the world around them – from the intricate structure of leaf cells under a microscope to the gargantuan 'elephant's toothpaste' reaction and the immeasurable wonder of black holes. The lessons you teach could fire the imaginations of hundreds of young people, influencing the theories, experiments and technology of tomorrow. We spoke to three United Teaching science trainees past and present to tell us more about the rewards of teaching science.
Meet Andy, Camille and Rob – science teachers at Sheffield Springs Academy. All trainees or graduates of the United Teaching programme, Rob is currently in the middle of his training year, while Camille is a newly qualified teacher (NQT) and Andy is the head of department. In this post, they tell us more about their teaching journeys and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Rob: Teaching has always been an ambition of mine, and after working in a school environment for several years I knew this is what I wanted to do. It’s one of the most rewarding careers around, knowing you are having an impact on young people’s lives. In certain communities, some students will see their teachers as a role model so it also brings out the best in you.
Why did you choose United Teaching?
Rob: Having worked in a United Learning school for the past 5 years, I had seen numerous trainee teachers go through the United Teaching programme. When I spoke to trainees about the course, they were always positive and spoke highly of the support they received in what can be a tough year. As soon as I graduated, I knew it was the route I wanted to take in becoming a teacher.
What would you say are the strengths of the United Teaching programme?
Camille: The strength of the United Teaching course is the vast amount of experience you get from spending a full school year in the classroom, compared to taking a university-led route. United Teaching are also excellent on advising you on how to prepare for the year ahead. You are fully supported by your school and time is set aside for you to be able to complete PGCE assignments.
Rob: A highlight from my training year so far has to be the overwhelming support from fellow trainees. There is a real sense of 'we are in this together' and the sharing of good practice has been very helpful.
How did your training with United Teaching help prepare you for your current role?
Andy: The best thing about my role is having the responsibility and trust to lead a department that strives for a common goal of improving student outcomes in science, and seeing results improve through our hard work. In my training year, we did a range of different training sessions that helped prepare me to be a Head of Department: from learning what a good lesson looks like to exploring a range of pedagogy, behaviour management techniques, and dealing with difficult conversations.
What support do you receive from United Teaching as a newly qualified teacher (NQT)?
Camille: As an NQT, I have weekly meetings with my mentor. In these meetings we discuss my strengths and targets and create an action plan. I have fortnightly observations to ensure my progression. I also have subject specific CPD within my department. Moving forward, I would really like to progress within my school that I trained in and I hope to follow the pastoral route to hopefully become a Head of Year.
What would you say to someone considering becoming a science teacher?
Rob: In the 6 months I have taught science, I've found it extremely rewarding. You are able to teach students important concepts applicable to everyday life, and students get a practical experience as well when conducting experiments.
Andy: I would tell them not to hesitate, the job is extremely rewarding and every day is different. There are also many opportunities within schools for strong science teachers.