Since embarking on the journey to Higher Education I have been repeatedly asked the same key questions; What are you going to be studying? What made you choose teaching? Why Dundee? For me personally, I think it’s more a question of why teaching chose me.
As a child in primary school I always hated to see people “cheating” or simply telling their friends the answer to a tricky question. I always thought it made much more sense to find another way of explaining the task so that they would learn for the next time. My mum always tells the story of when she was at my primary 1 parent’s night. I was in a composite p1/2 class and the teacher said that I had been teaching the primary 2s maths! This story always makes me think that although I’ve always aspired to be a teacher it is also something that has always come naturally to me.
As someone who has had a really positive primary and secondary school experience, I want the same experience to be had by any young person that I am given the opportunity to influence. A big part of who I am as a person comes from the opportunities I have had to explore different areas of the Curriculum, particularly music and modern languages.
When I was in primary 5 I started to learn to play the violin and joined the school choir and recorder groups. Being so musically involved at an early age gave me the confidence to speak out in groups of people and express how I feel. If you can sing it, why not say it?
This early confidence inspired me to join many of the music groups offered in secondary school. I played a key role as a member in the school orchestra, ukulele group and choir and performed in many school concerts and shows throughout my time at school. At the start of fifth year I decided to take on a further role by starting and leading my own a cappella group. This provided a space for young people to come and express themselves, no matter of age, gender or ability. It was a very freeing environment as this was a group led by pupils and allowed for a space, once a week, to just get a little bit crazy! This group became very important to me as a support network and a way of making friends in different year groups. Below is a clip from my 18th birthday celebrations, when my a cappella group really made me proud by putting together their own arrangement to say thank you for the work I had done with the group throughout my fifth and sixth year.
It is hard to put into words how much this meant to me as this was a group that I had not only created but had seen grow and develop over the two years that I worked with them. This is a key aspect as to why I think teaching is such a great profession to go into. Not only do you give something to others but you get so much back from the experience. In this particular case I was filled with an amazing sense of pride for what this group had achieved and I am very pleased to say that the group is still running now that I have left school.
In my last year of school I was also given the opportunity to assist one of the Modern Languages teachers at a local primary school, teaching German to p6s and French to p7s. As well as this I assisted in her S1 German class and was given the opportunity to take parts of the lessons. These experiences were invaluable to me as I really found my feet in the classroom setting as a teacher rather than as a pupil. Who knew that writing on the whiteboard would be so difficult? A great website that we used a lot in the ML department was linguascope.com. The school had to pay to access a user name and password but it is such a great resource that I often refer back to, even at Advanced Higher level!
Something that I really enjoy is when the combination of music and languages come together. We were often encouraged to learn German, French and Spanish through song. There are a couple of examples below.
As you can see these videos covered a wide range of topics from months of the year, to colours, seasons, festivals, daily routine and so much more. I often found myself referring to a song in my head during a languages exam to remember a bit of vocabulary.
All in all, I think I would summarise this piece by saying that teaching is something I’ve always known I have wanted to do and with the amount of resources and subjects we have to play with it is going to be a very exciting time.