Category: Professional Experience 201MC

Here is the link to my Professional Experience Video response, on Youtube:


Here is the script I created for the video I am doing in response to this module.

Video Script


‘My name is Emma Shea, I am 21 years old and a Photography Student at Coventry University’

‘I have, for my 201MC Professional Experience Module, been volunteering at schools to gain experience and help me make a decision as to whether I wish to be a Primary or Secondary School teacher.’

‘Let me start off by saying that I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience, I spent time in both a Primary and Secondary school environment and enjoyed every second of it, it has firmly cemented my choice to become a teacher as a future profession.’

‘Now let me say that children are absolutely insane and I think I might be a little bit crazy too for still wanting to be a teacher.’

‘Some things I have done over the course of my volunteering include:

  • Skipping with year fives
  • Shape poems with year fours
  • Spelling tests with year threes
  • Marking math’s papers
  • Marking English worksheets
  • Marking the same English worksheets the next day because a lot of the children refused to read the instructions at the top of the page so got it all wrong and had to redo it.
  • The holocaust with a group of Years 10’s who were previously unaware as to what the holocaust was
  • Acting out scenes of A Midsummers Nights Dream with year Sevens while wearing a crown and some fairy wings. Yeah I don’t have a picture of that.
  • Explaining to year Sevens that when we ask what kind of pranks they would play as a fairy, these things do not count: tickling someone to death, punching someone to death, burning their house down.
  • Seen a student punch another student in the lesson, and in the same day seen a child spit at another child in the hallway.

I spent a long time volunteering at Sidney Stringer Academy, a Secondary school in Coventry. I worked with a range of years, but I primarily spent most of my time with a Year 7 and Year 10 class that I became quite attached to as the volunteering went on. Both these classes were incredibly low ability and required a lot of work and dedication from the teachers. I ended up working closely with certain groups in the classes and tried my best to put as much effort into helping them learn as I could. Sometimes they were grateful for the extra help and really thrived. Other times they would do everything they could to fight against you. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to have an honest look into what being a Secondary school teacher is like.

It’s difficult, with long hours and few breaks. I only had a taste of it in my time there but it was really worth it to be able to say that if I do decide to be a Secondary school teacher, I won’t be walking in with any unrealistic expectations of what it is like.

It was also especially nice for me to able to prove to myself and other people that I can cope with the stress of Secondary School teaching.

I’m a relatively anxious person and was terrified this would hold me back from teaching. However, this was not the case, I took to the role as a teaching assistant like a fish to water and really do feel I could do the same with become a teacher.


The other School I spent a long time at was St Josephs Catholic Primary School in Northfleet, where I am originally from. This is in fact my old Primary school and volunteering here came with a wonderful and strange sense of nostalgia. Everything seemed a lot smaller than it did when I was 8.

I ended up being a teaching Assistant in Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5. I had already experienced KS1 classes during my Volunteering in Primary Schools Add Vantage Module last year, so I wanted to use this as a chance to see what KS2 classes are like.

I absolutely adored my time in those classes. It felt amazing to be able to spend a lot of time with one group of kids instead of switching between year groups and classrooms like in secondary schools. Year 5 is different to Year 4 and Year 3 because it’s a lot more focused learning as they have exams to pass and prep for entering Secondary school.

Year 4 according to the teachers I spoke to and based on my own experiences is where the kids become little terrors for a year. However, it’s a lot different from the sort of bad behavior you get from Secondary school students. It’s less based on genuine spite or hatred and easier to stamp out of them. Note I did not actually stamp on any children.

Year 3 was by far my favourite year and the one I spent the most time with. I really enjoyed helping in the lessons and working with the kids. They had some children who needed extra help like one from a foster home who had only entered the school in February and another who had been a selective mute until recently. I ended up working a lot with those children and developed a really invested interest in seeing them succeed.


For both of my volunteering placements I put so much effort into whatever task I was given, really wanting to get the most out of it and make a good impression. I think I succeeded considering how both schools have said they would be more than happy to have me back for more volunteering.

I feel this has really helped with my employability status because it has drastically improved my confidence when it comes to the prospect of being a teacher. I learnt so much about the profession and learnt a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as well. I can deal with the stress and I can put my self-conscious nature behind me in lessons and make myself perhaps look a little silly for the sake of engaging the kids. My anxiety caused no problems what so ever which I am so relieved about. When I consider what transferable skills I now have, the ability to be a team leader and in control of a situation would definitely be one of them. After you have to control a classroom of 12 year olds, being a team leader doesn’t sound overly intimidating anymore. I would also include communication and preparation skills. I would spend time before my lessons discussing with the teacher what we were doing and planning where I would be placed in the classroom and what I would have to do when throughout the lesson. I also feel this has helped me for the future because the PGCE course I wish to enter asks that you have a minimum of two weeks experience in whatever age range you wish to teach, which I now have.


I have also made the decision that I will train to be a Primary School Teacher instead of Secondary School Teacher. Though there is a lot of satisfaction with Secondary school teaching, I feel I am personally more suited for the primary school environment. And it is a massive relief to have the decision solidly made in my mind because of personal experience instead of walking into it blind.


Big thanks to both schools for the fantastic opportunity they each gave me. Thank-you for watching my video.

Over the course of my volunteering I have obtained so many new skills and gained massive amount of confidence. Looking back over my SWOT analysis, my anxiety disorder caused no problems whatsoever which I am incredibly relieved about. I handled any task or situation I was given well and didn’t panic under pressure. I feel so much more confident about the prospect of becoming a teacher based on this volunteering, as it has let me face my fears and supposed weaknesses and overcome them/ realise they were not something I had to be concerned about.

My confidence has improved drastically over the course of this volunteering. I was willing to get involved and be active and engaging in the kids without feeling self conscious. I think the ability to do this would also be a skill I have gained through my time volunteering at both schools.

Another skill I have gained is leadership. I feel, after working with such a large amount of children of varying ages and abilities, that being a team leader no longer feels intimidating. I can put myself forward and take control of a situation if the need arises.

I have also gained a level of delegation skills through this module. A lot of my time volunteering involved juggling how much to help a child with their work, with encouraging them to do it alone without the need for dependancy. You need to be able to give them tasks which are well planned and informative and push them to do work independently.  Sometimes their is the urge when a child is struggling to give them to much help, which could be detrimental to their learning as they are not doing it themselves. I especially had to put this skill to use while my Year 10 class were doing mock exams and we were not allowed to explain anything to them. It is difficult to do when you have spent so long assisting them, especially when they are low ability.

Communication and preparation skills were another large aspect of my volunteering. I would discuss with the teachers before each lesson what we were doing and planning where I would be situated in the class to be the most help. This also took a lot of willingness on my part to communicate where I thought I would be put and what I could be doing during the lesson. My communicating with the teachers additionally included being confident enough to be forward about asking questions about their professions to gain the most realistic and honest opinions of what being a teacher is like.

The PGCE course I wish to enter after my third year at Coventry university asks that you have a minimum of two weeks experience in your chosen age range. I have achieved that comfortably, so hopefully as I continue to volunteer (which I intend to do independently) I will put myself in a strong position for entering my chosen PGCE degree.

Possibly the best thing this module as given me, is a solid decision as to what age range I wish to teach.

I have decided to become a Primary school teacher, rather than a secondary school one.

Their was a lot of satisfaction working in the secondary school, but I felt that I was better suited for the primary school environment. I connected with the kids easier and it was a relief to not be knowingly walking into a battle against the kids every day I went to school (as I felt with volunteering at the secondary school). I have always wanted to get into teaching out of an urge to help kids and be a source of stability and support to them while teaching them. Being able to work with kids of a younger age makes me feel like I can help more because I have more time to get to know one class of children instead of having to memorise the names of hundreds of different students that you will teach in a secondary school. It also feels like you can have a more profound impact on a child’s development when they are still in primary instead of having to try and work with however they come to you in secondary.

Their are difficulties with both primary and secondary teaching, but I feel more capable coping with the Primary school stresses than I do with the latter.


To get a well rounded experience of the teaching career, I chose to base myself in a Primary School next, to give me something to compare to my experience in a Secondary school. It has always been my biggest decision whether I should go into Secondary or Primary School teaching, so I wanted to take this module as an opportunity to give me the most well rounded experience so I can make an informed decision.

St Josephs is a relatively small primary school back near where I live in Gravesend. It has about 200 children altogether.

I spent my time their being put into different classes depending on where I was needed, sticking however to KS2 classes. This is due to me already experiencing KS1, while volunteering at a Primary school last year through my Add Vantage Module, so I wanted to make sure I had the full range of experience.

I was placed with Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5 over the course of 12 days, each day being around 6-7 hours long.

Year 4


Year 4 was who I was initially placed with, and I was pleased to instantly be put to use. I took on some of the work from the classes teaching assistant so she could continue with other tasks. I marked papers, read a child there maths paper for them, generally walked around and helped while they were doing shape poems (these are shape poems

You don’t really get a break with the kids. When lunch time hit we were staying in with some students doing reading with them or still marking their maths tests. And they can get over excited really quickly over anything.

On two occasions a hornet made its way into the classroom and on both occasions it became practically impossible to continue the lesson. One child was particularly terrified of the hornet and this only served to make the other children around her less settled. So me, the teaching assistant and the teacher had to become hornet wranglers less the classroom completely descend into madness.

Year 3


Year 3 was the class I spent most of time at St Josephs with, and it was by far my favourite class to work with. There isn’t a massive jump between what you are dealing with between year 4 and year 3 (though in year 4 they become a little more willing to talk back apparently) but having the opportunity to spend a lot of time consistently with one class on children was a really great experience.

I spent a lot of my time walking around the class helping the kids as they worked, or sitting with a table that had 6 children on it. This table had one child who had been a selective mute and another who had only entered the school in February and was quite behind, education wise. I made sure everyday to talk to the child who had been a selective mute, so they would respond to me and interact, as they are still very quiet. I also did a lot of work with the second child, pushing them to answer questions and write independently instead of trying to convince me to do it for them.  I became pretty close with all the children on that table and in that class in fact. I quickly learnt who were the naughty ones, the quiet kids and the easily distracted children. I felt really well integrated into the classroom and did everything I could to be as helpful as possible to the teacher and teaching assistants.

Year 5

IMG_2554 IMG_2553 IMG_2549

Year 5 is where things start to change in primary schools. They have exams and your learning has to be a bit more focused.

The teacher in year 5 ruled with an iron hand, and was absolutely fantastic. We spent a lot of time working on their own newspaper articles, spelling rules and decimal points. It was a little daunting for me at first, because when I was helping one child who was especially struggling with decimal points, I became terrified that I was teaching them the wrong thing.

Maths has always been a point of fear in my education. I could do it with the right teacher, but I had a mental block through most of my education.

This has been one of the things that has always worried me about being a primary school teacher. I wouldn’t be able to be just an art teacher, I would also be responsible for the key foundations of their knowledge in every other subject and their emotional development. Anybody who says primary school teachers have an easy job is an idiot.

Despite my concerns, I am more than capable of the primary school mathematics, and had this confirmed to me through my volunteering, which is very reassuring.


IMG_2548Example of discipline technique at the school.

This was a great experience as I got to interact with a lot of different age groups and see a varied amount of subjects taught.

I am thrilled with how my Primary school volunteering has went. I really worked well with the kids and I feel so much more confident about primary school teaching as a career possibility.

Overall I think I am pretty much set on being a Primary School teacher now. I got a lot more enjoyment out of it than I did at the secondary school. There is a high level of satisfaction with Secondary school teaching, but I don’t think I could deal with the stress levels that are associated with the job. There is still stress in Primary school teaching, but it comes from different sources and I feel I am better at coping with that than Secondary school.

There is also the fact that when I walked into the Secondary school each day, I knew I would have to be expecting a battle with some of the kids. I find the discipline in Primary Schools easier for me personally.


Considering that my desires for a career revolve entirely around being a teacher, I have elected to volunteer at Schools to help me achieve a number of things:

  • Make sure this is definitely the right choice for me
  • Help me decide whether I want to work in Primary or Secondary
  • Give me an opportunity to discuss with people in the profession and get a more truthful representation of what it is like.
  • Gain valuable experience to help me enter a good PGCE course.

The first school I have volunteered at is Sidney Stringer Academy, a Secondary School in Coventry.

I did a total of 12 Days at the school over a period of ten weeks, ranging from 6 to 8 hours long.

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 21.48.48Example of one of my days at the school.

I was working with Year 10’s and Year 7’s primarily in English classes, but also had experience with Year 9’s, Year 11’s and Sixth Form classes in Art lessons.

If I was to be a Secondary school teacher, I would be an Art teacher, but applying for the volunteering I was placed in my secondary lesson choice which was English, as the core subjects is where they needed the volunteers most. I didn’t overly mind this, as English was my second strongest subject next to art/ photography so I didn’t feel exactly put out by the situation.

The Year 7’s 

I spent a lot of my time with the Year 7’s working with them in groups. It was a very low ability class so there were a lot of kids that needed extra help or groups that needed extra supervision lest they become distracted and uncooperative in the lesson.

My experience with the year 7’s was an interesting one. On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed my position as a teaching assistant and felt I took to the role well. On the other hand, they had a tendency to spiral out of control, so you had to be incredibly stern with them and keep a tight leash on the situation.

This isn’t to say this ruined the experience for me, on the contrary, it was encouraging to discover that I was able to step up to that requirement. I have always been concerned that I wouldn’t be able to be intimidating enough to children if they were misbehaving, or wouldn’t feel confident enough to discipline them. This concern quickly dissipated as I started doing all of that without even having to think about it.


On a lighter note, I also discovered that I could lose any concept of shame or nervousness when working with the children. We spent a lot of lessons introducing them to A Midsummers Nights Dream, and being a very low ability set we had to take it slowly and use different tactics to keep them engaged. One tactic was introducing a drama element to the class. We asked them to act out parts of the play we were talking about (mainly the arguments between Oberon and Titania) to help them understand the emotions they are feeling in the play and show that they are grasping the concepts we are discussing with them. It was at these moments when you couldn’t be self conscious and had to be willing to wear a crown and pair of frilly fairy wings while over dramatically showing the kids how they could act out Titania’s anger. You can probably guess from this description that I had no problem throwing away my usual self conscious attitude and doing what was necessary to engage the kids and help them learn.

It was invigorating to know I could jump into this so easily. I enjoyed it, even when the children were being uncooperative or rude and I had to become strict and threaten detentions. I didn’t become disheartened by their attitude, it didn’t upset or shock me when they swore or became verbally aggressive, I just dealt with it and I am proud of myself for doing so. I have always been aware that that was always an aspect of being a Secondary School teacher, and the thought of it always intimidated me slightly because I didn’t think I couldn’t deal with it. I proved myself wrong and am incredibly proud of myself for doing so!

The Year 10’s 

The year 10 English class was also a low ability set, with a large proportion of EAL students (English as an Additional Language) so I was warned about the possible difficulties from the outset. For most of the lessons I was working one of one with students designated by the teacher I was working with, one of which I was warned as having quite aggressive mood swings. I was able to interact with them quite well (We will call them Student A for the purposes of clarity and child protection) and worked with them a lot over the course of the 10 weeks. I got Student A to complete the class work and put a lot of work into trying to get then to retain the information we were teaching them, and the teacher was pleased with my input. It was satisfying to see any signs of progress, however small and far between.

There was a moment when they were sitting there mock exams that Student A verbally abused one of the exam moderators after we left the exam hall. A lot of members of the class have problems with older people, which this moderator was, though I was not exposed to personally being a young adult. This led to me having a conversation with their teacher about how these children really were not suited for a classroom environment, and how it was unfair to expect them to succeed in our education system while having to translating everything in their heads (being EAL students) and not being able to retain the information given to them. The teacher really cared for these children, and put so much work into them and their lessons, but she was also very aware that some children just are not suited for the school system. This didn’t make her give up on them, on the contrary she put massive amount of effort into them, but there was a level of noticeable exasperation that I felt came more from being expected to try and make the kids conform to government expectations even it wasn’t beneficial for them.

This was a real eye opener for me, as I had never worked with children like this before. It was hard work and though I still enjoyed it, it was certain a very brutally honest image of what being a secondary school teacher is like.


I spent my lunches in the office with the other teachers, and really enjoyed being able to speak to them about their jobs and hear their honest opinions. I had the opportunity to hear their opinions about the government and the constant changes made to the school system, and how much they despise Michael Gove (which is entirely justified and reasonable). It made me consider how Primary Schools are not touched as much by the government, and considering how they are making the Secondary school teaching profession haemorrhage, do I want to enter the job with that much stress caused just by the internal affairs?

Art Classes

During some of my lunch periods, I went up to the art department and viewed some of their lessons and asked questions to the teachers. Considering how I would want to be an Art Teacher at a secondary school, this was really important for me to see.

I thought it was a little strange how in year 8 the kids get the option to not take art. And there had apparently been a lot of changes from the government between being allowed to offer BTECS or A Levels so it kept switching. Apparently the arts in the school lose time because the school wants to focus more on the core subjects, which even one of the English teachers I worked with agreed that it seemed a little unfair. This is something I have heard happening in multiple different schools, especially Academy’s. I was happy to hear that the Art teacher still thoroughly enjoyed her profession, and I got to see a lot of the kids work and talk to them about their lessons. One of the teachers also gave me the email address of another teacher at another school, that was a photography teacher, so I could consider going to see them in my own time and experiencing a different art environment.

Year 9’s and Year 11’s 

An-Inspector-Calls-BrochureWe were looking at An Inspector Calls with the Year 11’s.

I took the opportunity to work extra days at the school, so got to see different years and different skill sets.

I saw children who where at vastly different abilities to what I had been working with previously. It was an interesting change of pace as the teaching style differs depending on ability. I got to see a lesson more engaged in discussion about the topics and opinions being willingly put forward. The Year 9 class worked especially well, and actually wanted to continue working instead of watching a video, which was promised at the end if they had worked hard. However, there are always going to be naughty students, and the naughty students in this class also happened to be the strongest learners. This did not stop them trying to look down my dress while I was bending down to look at their work (despite my dress being high cut). I have been made aware by teachers that if you are young and female you may get some unwanted attention, so luckily I wasn’t overly shocked by the behaviour and just kind of shrugged it off while telling the boys to stop acting pathetically.

You do learn pretty quickly while volunteering at a secondary school that you can’t be afraid to call children out on what they are doing. It feels weird at first, it went against every fibre in my being that tells me to be polite to people. But it’s amazing how quickly you fall into the role as someone who can’t be willing to take any form of crap (excuse my language) from the students.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sidney Stringer Academy and am especially grateful for the opportunity they gave me by letting me volunteer with them. I enjoyed my time talking with the teachers and was made to feel very welcome. I am happy that I got to see the ins and outs of the teaching profession, they didn’t try to hide anything from me or make it seem prettier than it is. It’s hard and has long hours but at the same time you get to teach what you love and the satisfaction you get is one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt and I was only volunteering!