Friday, 23 September 2016

The Graduate: Chris

Name: Chris

Age: 23

Where and what did you study?
BSc Geography at the University of Sheffield.

What made you decide that university was the right option for you?
I always knew I wanted to go to university; it was always going to happen, but I was never quite sure on what to study. Throughout school and sixth form, I found I had a love of the outdoors and travel, constantly looking for every opportunity to get outside, get climbing and get exploring. So it kind of made sense that Geography was the degree for me. It was the experiences at sixth form however that really made my decision on what to study at university. I was lucky enough to travel to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, meeting local people and experiencing Moroccan traditions, as well as investigating flash flooding and fold mountains. I found I was fascinated by the environment, and it was during that trip I realised that this was the degree for me. 

What do you do now?
I have just started my NQT year as a Secondary School Geography Teacher at The Vale Academy in North Lincolnshire. I completed my training straight out of university on a School Direct program with Sheffield Hallam University. 

Why teaching? Was it always your plan?
Teaching was never really my first choice of career. I had always been interested in teaching however, with experience as a swimming teacher and Duke of Edinburgh Award instructor. But, I really wanted to go into the Royal Air Force as a pilot! Unfortunately this couldn't happen so I decided to go into teaching, and what a excellent decision that was. Really, it was my Geography teachers at school who influenced my decision to become a teacher; they were always so passionate and enthusiastic, a real inspiration. They made my lessons fun and relevant, and I thought that I, too, would like to do the same. In what career could I go outside, talk about and share my passion for the world and the outdoors other than teaching? Whilst at university my work with the Royal Geographical Society also helped me realise that I was going to become a teacher one day! By working as a Geography Ambassador, I travelled the country running workshops for students about why Geography is important and relevant. In this role I quickly came to realise that this was something I could do every day. 

What's a day in the life of a teacher like? What happens behind the scenes?
A teacher's day is a very busy one! Its not a 9-5 job like most people think - it's a challenge and it is hard work. My day begins at 7am when I get into school and, first, make a strong coffee to get me going. Then it's onto preparing lessons for the day, printing resources, marking books and awaiting the hundreds of students! It's then onto duty, standing at the gate ensuring students have their planners, and that their uniform is on correctly. This is all before the start of the day! Next is lessons, usually five hours per day. As a form tutor, I also have extra responsibilities: making sure my students are not getting detentions, checking homework and also helping with pastoral issues. At lunchtime there is not time for lunch - it's straight into revision sessions or running lunchtime clubs or activities. Sometimes you may even have students in detention with you during lunch if they decided they didn't fancy completing your rivers homework! The day continues with more lessons and more engaging activities. 

The wonderful thing is that as a teacher you are free to teach how you like, adding in experiments, field trips and team building activities. You can be as creative and imaginative as you like! Teaching isn't just standing at the front of the class: you have to adapt your teaching so that all your students understand, making sure your brighter students are challenged and don't become bored, whilst ensuring that the less able are capable of completing the work. It makes every lesson different and challenging! When the bell goes at the end of the day, it's onto meetings or training. This is a really important part of the day as we need to ensure that all the students are meeting their targets and that we are up to date on teaching methods. Teaching is such an interesting and challenging job and your role is far more than just a 'teacher'; you're a social worker, a manager and, most importantly, a role model. It is a real pleasure to work with young people who certainly make the day interesting!  

If you weren't a teacher, what would you be instead?
If I wasn't a teacher, I would have loved to have been a pilot, either commercial or military. I have always loved flying, and what a great way to see the world! This career would have also have made use of my Geography degree, by looking at and analysing the weather to ensure a safe flight. 

What advice would you give to current students and/or recent graduates?
The most important advice I received whilst choosing university and, later,  choosing a career would probably look like this...

  • Research the university and course in detail. Go and visit and make sure the course covers what your interested in! 
  • Work Experience: do as much of this as possible! It will really help you to make sure that it is the right career for you.
  • Take every opportunity you can, visit as many places, join as many societies as possible. It was by doing this that I became involved with the RGS and got to work with some amazing and influential people. 
  • HAVE FUN. University really is the best time of your life! Work hard play hard! 

Chris, the geography graduate.
Secondary school teacher.
For more info or advice, follow Chris at @ValeGeography

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