Debbie, a career changer, shares her inspiring story of transitioning from a successful hotel management role to becoming a teacher. Debbie discusses her initial love for teaching, the desire to make a positive impact, and the challenges she faced during her teacher training journey. She highlights the importance of her supportive tutors, valuable placement experiences, and offers practical advice for aspiring teachers. She expresses her enthusiasm towards helping children grow and learn.

Why did you choose to go into teaching?

The idea of teaching has always been in my life. At 14, I completed my work experience at the local primary school and loved it! But at my career’s meetings, my preferences showed that working with animals or hotels was for me – so off to hotels I went. Despite being successful in management roles and achieving Deputy Manager in a local hotel; I started to realise that the part I loved most about my job was the training of the staff! After numerous months of investigating courses; checking qualifications; discussing potential issues with my husband and children – we made the decision – I was going to go for it!.

Why did you decide to retrain?

I enjoyed my time in Hospitality but there was always something missing - a feeling of making a difference lasted for a short while but never lingered. I wanted something more – something that proved that I was having a positive impact on those around me.

Luckily, working in Hospitality gave me lots of transferable skills that have stood me in good stead for dealing with parents, the wider community and of course the children – my client audience – they are about 30 years younger than my norm but providing a great service for clients is still foremost in my mind!

As a career changer, how did you manage to balance study, family and work?

The PGCE demands that you work full-time, whether on placement or in seminars. This left little time for working two jobs and for family. However, learning to complete your assignments in a timely fashion along with planning during the week meant that Friday night to Sunday afternoon could be mine! Whilst at University, I signed up to be a Student Ambassador, which meant that I could promote a great university and get paid for it! A great plus was that I only worked when I was off timetable, so I did not feel any squeeze between completing assignments and working.

Why did you choose the University of Cumbria?

I pawed over lots of different options, including SCITT, before choosing the PGCE at the University of Cumbia. Although SCITT would pay me whilst working – I wanted to experience different schools and see diverse ways of working. Other providers did not offer the flexible opportunities that Cumbria did. Having a variety of campuses was also a bonus! Having worked in school for a while, I also wanted to update my knowledge and be on the pulse of modern teaching programmes. The promise of smaller working groups appealed to me, and I am incredibly pleased to say that it worked out exactly as I had hoped! All of the tutors have been amazing; they are helpful, attentive and really do want the absolute best for you.

What barriers did you overcome in your teacher training journey?

For me, confidence was my issue. Why would an ex-hotel manager be able to teach? Imposter syndrome dominated a lot of my thinking time and effort, which I now realise was my issue – I was holding me back! With the support from my personal tutor and my UPT, this shy adult turned into a confident, creative teacher! Another issue I was worried about was my ability to start authoring essays again! I shouldn’t have worried because the library has lots of courses and webinars to help you on your way and offers services that can look over your first five hundred words and give you some top tips! Personal tutors are also worth their weight in gold! They introduce work in manageable bits, so nothing becomes too overwhelming – brilliant!

What was the moment when things fell into place for you?

I feel lucky to have experienced three different schools in different year groups. This range, along with the experience of my class teachers and mentors allowed me to feel at ease whilst in their classrooms. Planning and teaching expectations ramp up in manageable chunks and the teachers are always there to advise, tweak and fill you full of top tips! My extending placement has been where everything has slotted into place, however, without the support of my first two teachers – I would not have completed my journey.

Tell us about your experiences on placement.

Being in each school for the first time is daunting – I cannot lie! Unfamiliar faces, new children, different expectations whirling around in my head – all to be squashed within my first week! All of my placements have been amazing! Each placement has taught me something different – allowed me to magpie ways of presenting lessons, resources, maintaining behaviour; workload management - everything that I need for my future teaching career.

What advice would you give after your experiences?

My top tips would be:

  1. Ring up a local school and volunteer. This is the way you’ll find out if children are your passion.

  2. On placement and in lectures - be honest – is there something you don’t understand? I can guarantee that there will be! Just say something. End of the lecture, through email; or a quiet chat to your mentor. Just like the children we are learning! Noone is expecting perfection!!

  3. Attend every opportunity University gives you – they all help when you are in the classroom.

  4. Children do not bite – just be yourself!

  5. Be reflective – assess what happened in your lessons; use others’ input, review and you will improve!

  6. Be organised! Set yourself targets and stick to them!

What has been your overall experience training with the University of Cumbria?

For me, I have had an absolute blast! I have worked and played hard. I have learnt so much and feel ready to take on a new role in teaching. Who would have thought that it could be possible – but here I am – living proof! Enjoy every moment because time flies by! New friends are now close allies when planning and seeking workable ideas – I had never realised the importance of a WhatsApp group before!

What top tips would you give to career changers looking to do the same course as you?

  1. Look at all the course options that are on offer. Some offer QTS; others don’t. I chose a SEND specialism – which kind would you like?
  2. Ask yourself, can I get funding?
  3. Check that your current qualifications allow you to qualify for a place – admin will help you with that – they know everything!
  4. Are you passionate enough to take the plunge? Has it been a dream that has always been gnawing away? THEN DO IT!

What are your plans after graduation?

I have every intention to apply for a job in a local school or go on supply, which means I get to go to different schools and teach lots of different children in different schools! Being part of their learning process; feeling that I am making a difference means the world to me. I love being part of school and its wider community. Together, anything is possible!

What are you looking forward to the most with regards to your new career?

I want to be the best teacher that I can. I understand the expectations of teaching and look forward to having a positive impact on all the children I meet in my future career. Throughout my time on placements, there has been a common thread – everyday is a learning day – children and teachers alike! I am looking forward to living my dream job; constantly learning and helping children in my care to progress and become whatever they wish! Being a teacher has got to be the best job in the world!

Edit Page