Who am I and what have I done?
Part 1... The "training years..."
My very first experience of teaching was as part of my DofE Gold. You had to spend a certain amount of hours doing a volunteer service. I chose to volunteer at a local school for disabled children. As I was doing A-levels in Chemistry, Physics and Maths I was asked to support the students who were struggling with these subjects.
During the 2 years I volunteered here I met many students my own age who ranged from brittle bones, through to sufferers of spina bifida and hemophilia as well as quadriplegic wheelchair bound accident victims. I learnt at that time to see the person inside and not the condition - something that has never left me and I am pleased to say there are students from then, that I became friends with and I am still in touch with today.
Their courage of conviction and joie-de-vivre is something I will never forget and is something I will carry with me always.
This is when I recognised the rewards of working with students.
After this it was onto university to do my degree - I studied at the University of Sussex in Brighton, in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Science. I had a wonderful three years learning new things, doing more experiments and the necessary lab write-ups :-( than I can even remember today. (I do still have my lab books and experimental IR & NMR analysis results which I use in lessons today!)
Year 3... the dreaded thesis, or in my case a teaching project, the university offered this as a choice to encourage STEM in the local schools. As environmental Chemistry was a big thing at the time I chose this as an area to run a STEM project on with a local school. We set up a weather station and monitoring equipment, using Drager tubes to test the exhaust gases of various teachers cars. The students I worked with had a great time and I really enjoyed working with them...
My love of teaching was well and truly born.
Next came teacher training and for this I went to Oxford, OK not THE Oxford but Oxford Brookes - where despite only having left university the year before I was a "mature" student - boy did that make me feel old!
It was an unforgettable year, the Internet was taking off and we started using email and computers to do our research and lesson planning. We even had mobile phones that weren't the size of a brick! But we couldn't really afford to make many calls.... But we didn't have the free access to a photocopier - I learnt on a banda (a spirit copier that did pink, blue, grey and turquoise.)
I still remember my fellow trainees and mentors with a great deal of fondness. It seems strange to be the ITT professional tutor on the other side of this arrangement in schools now, working with the trainees from Brookes as they train to become teachers as I did all those years ago.