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Case Study: Hannah Pickering

Personal details
Degree:MA Theological Studies Profile picture
School(s): School of Divinity
Year of Graduation:Jun-2015
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Teach First
Job title: Religious Education Teacher
Occupational Sector: Teaching
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I am currently on the Teach First Graduate Scheme working in the West Midlands as an RE teacher. I did not plan to take this route when I started University, it was instead the result of discovering a Teach First Brand Manager role on the University Careers Website which ended up in me applying for the Graduate Scheme.
What does your job involve ?
The role of a teacher is never ending. Obviously there is the school day during the week where lessons are taught, tutor responsibilities are dealt with and books are marked. There are often meetings after school regarding the department, tutor duties and what is known as CPD (Continual Professional Development - i.e. Training). Weeknights and part of the weekend always inevitably get taken up with more marking, planning and general organisation. In addition to this as part of the Teach First Graduate Scheme you are working towards a PGCE at the same time. This involves, among other things, essays over the year, reflective journals and regular observations from tutors.
What are the best bits of your job ?
The best bit of the job, however cliche it sounds, is the children. Yes there are some more challenging individuals but it's the ones who work hard every lesson, who suddenly just get 'it', who you see develop as a student and the best kind - the pupils who you work hard with over time to build a strong working relationship with, who tell you they don't like you, who swear at you, then one day they recognise all the hard work you have put in and suddenly think you are the best teacher in the world. The hard work pays off! In addition to this you meet so many like minded people on the graduate scheme, people at the school you work, you become so resilient in challenging situations and you quickly create networks of people you can rely on.
Why were you successful?
Although there is not one thing I would put my success on gaining a place on the graduate scheme down to there are certainly things that helped! I was a Brand Manager for Teach First which meant I was fast tracked through the assessment process for the graduate scheme. This also meant that I knew lots about the charity and what the scheme involved. Additionally I founded and was President of Teach Soc which showed an interest with education overall rather than just Teach First. I also achieved a placement on the Teaching module for final year students which meant I had gained experience within the classroom and it showed proactivity with regards to gaining experience. Overall I think any experience within the education, voluntary, or people centred sector is vital. It shows you have strong inter-personal skills and are willing to take the time to learn more about why you would succeed on the graduate scheme.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
From my degree in particular the skill of writing an essay and knowing how to go about looking for research was vital as the graduate scheme involves essays marked at a Masters Level. In addition to this experience of how to successfully build relationships with tutors and knowing when to draw on their advice was helpful when completing a University course when you are not studying everyday on campus.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Obviously I'm a strong advocate for Teach First as I believe in what they are doing and I see the impact of my work everyday. I was lucky in the sense that I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, I just wasn't sure of the path to take me there. In terms of advice, yes Teach First is amazing and I would recommend anyone to join the graduate scheme. However at the end of the day you need to know teaching is for you so gain as much experience as you can in different school contexts. Teach First places individuals in challenging schools in low socio-economic areas and therefore it won't necessarily be like the school life you experience. Despite this you learn so much so quickly and all your experiences will allow you to be a successful teacher or leader wherever your journey takes you next. Please feel free to contact me to gain more personalised information or if you would like to spend a few days within a Teach First school.