Yudy is a student on the PGCE for Modern Foreign Languages programme. Before applying to do her PGCE she worked as a teaching assistant where she realised she wanted to achieve more and so applied for the PGCE at Oxford.
What did you do before coming to the department?
I studied Marketing Management, when I finished my degree I went abroad to South America. While I was away I thought about utilising my English in an effective way, and so I started teaching adults in a languages academy.
What first attracted you to teaching?
While I was travelling, I had the opportunity to teach English in South America, this is where my love for teaching began. I already had the advantage of being bilingual and so I wanted to share this with others.
Why did you choose to do your PGCE at Oxford?
When I was working as a TA I met someone who was doing her PGCE at Oxford, one of the many things that attracted me was the amount of help she got from the University, she explained it wasn’t an easy year, however the university made it more manageable. When talking to other Oxford PGCE interns at the school they shared the same thought, and so I thought this would be the best choice.
How have you been supported throughout the course?
I had huge support from my tutor at the department. The feedback on assignments helped me to develop my understanding on pedagogy better, while school mentors were able to support me with the practical side of teaching.
What have been the highlights of the year?
I had the incredible opportunity of doing a one-week placement at Swiss Cottage School along with five more students. The knowledge I gained about SEN students helped me to understand my pupils more and I saw ‘teaching’ in a different light. Furthermore the amount of teaching ideas I learnt there were key to my development as a new beginning teacher.
What’s the community like at the department?
We were very lucky to have such supportive staff at the department. The librarians in particular were extremely helpful when it came to assignments. They made a huge difference to the PGCE year as they were so helpful with any questions you had, and were always willing to go the extra mile to help you, particularly during busy periods. In addition to this, the support we received from peers was phenomenal; we were able to share our ideas and worries, which meant we always had someone to talk to.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about applying to Oxford’s PGCE?
I would recommend gaining some teaching experience first, even if it is for a short period of time. It gave me a great foundation to my PGCE year. I was able to see different teaching styles and how students react to certain situations, something that helped me a lot during my PGCE year. Also I was able to learn a lot about SEN students as I was working very closely with that department.
Do you have any advice for someone preparing to start their Oxford PGCE?
Each department will give a suggested reading list over summer, I would highly suggest reading one or two books. I read them on the plane on my way to Colombia and I am so glad I did. It not only equipped me with teaching techniques that have evolved during the years, but it also meant I was more prepared for the seminars and lectures at university.
What was the application process, including the interview, like at Oxford?
The application process was very straightforward. The interview was well organised which instantly eased my nerves. The staff made the interview very comfortable and it never felt like we were competing for university spaces, instead we were sharing ideas with the other candidates.
Looking back, when you applied to Oxford did you have any misconceptions about the University?
My biggest misconception about the University was about the staff, however they are all extremely helpful. Also their past experience of working at local schools meant they had a lot of tips and experience to share with us, which meant seminars were full of exciting ideas that we could implement in our own classrooms.
What do you hope to achieve through teaching?
I don’t just want to teach my students a modern foreign language, but I also want to motivate and inspire them to achieve all their goals. I love the mentoring side of being a teacher, as I understand not all students will have the right support at home. However, we as teachers can make a difference.
What do you most value about the teaching at the department?
The teaching at the department gave me new ideas, in addition to my own ones to try in the classroom, as they were all based on real life settings from their past experiences as teachers themselves. This is exactly what I needed from the university in order to develop my teaching practise.
What are the biggest misconceptions about teaching?
The workload. I spent hours planning perfect lessons, however I learnt that we are supposed to be human beings and not robots. We need to have a good work life balance and in order to manage workload effectively I was recycling lessons when possible, prioritising things better, delegating jobs and the biggest one not being afraid to ask for help.
What has your degree taught you most?
This PGCE year has taught me that hard work pays off. I now feel confident that I will be able to achieve many more things in life. I have also matured as a person as there have been obstacles that I didn’t think I was able to cope with.
What’s your favourite thing about studying at the department?
The staff in the department has expanded my understanding and interest in teaching, they are all extremely knowledgeable and passionate about teaching which means the quality of seminars we received were not only well planned, but also interesting and engaging in so many different ways.