Bethany studied a PGCE in Mathematics at the University of Oxford. She had previously studied Mathematics at Oxford and the opportunity to give back to her subject, and use it to inspire others in the same way it inspired her, attracted her to teaching.
What first attracted you to teaching?
Teaching allows me to indulge in, and share my love for maths on a daily basis, and help grow young people into the Mathematicians they all have the potential to be. I first realised that teaching would suit me as a career when I was still at school and often found myself in situations where I was teaching small groups either as part of lesson or as part of school clubs. The satisfaction of helping a person gain a greater understanding never left and my favourite moments in the classroom are still when a struggling pupil proudly announces that they get it now.
Why did you choose to do a PGCE?
I chose the PGCE route so that it could act as a ‘bridging’ year between studying at university and starting full-time work. The course allows me to continue my academic pursuits whilst also developing practical skills ready for working life.
Why did you choose to do your PGCE at Oxford?
One big factor was the desire to remain in such a beautiful city for another year! Apart from that, I was taken by the emphasis on the working relationships between student, mentor and tutor, and the internship ethos of the course. Additionally, having worked with the maths tutors during my undergraduate degree I was confident that they were the right people to support me through the course.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about applying to Oxford’s PGCE?
Be yourself! Teachers aren’t one size fits all and the point of the course is to develop YOUR teaching style. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and have evidence to support any claims you make. In light of this, try to get some classroom experience that you can discuss during your interview; in my experience my local schools were really helpful in giving me a few days observation experience.
How did you find the interview at Oxford?
I really enjoyed the interview process, and found it to give me a flavour of the course itself. Meeting other potential candidates kept me calm and it was fun to share our current teaching experiences. The tutor who interviewed me also told me that she was trying to take me out of my comfort zone which was a really reassuring thing to remember when I found myself struggling later on. All in all, it was as nice as an interview could be considering the nerves I had!
Do you have any advice for someone preparing to start their Oxford PGCE?
The most important thing for me was to start getting into good habits that would help me maintain a work-life balance. For example, figuring out quick meals to cook and making sure I got to sleep at a decent time.
How have you been supported throughout the course?
The other interns are an amazing source of support as we can share stories with each other and turn to each other for our opinions on certain things. This network is encouraged from the first day, where we are placed in TLC Groups of 5 interns that help each other throughout course. The tutors in the department are also a great help and are available for you to meet whenever you need them. My own tutor helped me get the courage to submit my first assignment when I was too nervous to do so!
What do you most value about the teaching at the department?
The thing I value most is how much your tutors get to know you. The benefits of this is that they can (and do) point you in the exact direction of areas of your practice that you should focus on developing and researching.
What’s your favourite thing about studying at the department?
The community feel of the department. The maths interns feel like a tight knit form group that is part of the wider school of the PGCE course.
What do you hope to achieve through teaching?
I hope to foster a greater appreciation and love for Mathematics in the students I teach and tackle the negative perceptions that are held about the subject.
What has studying for the PGCE taught you most?
That every child is unique and understands things in their own way. The joy of teaching is figuring out how to present the material so that each child has the best chance of understanding it.