In 2022 I completed my PGCE in primary education and currently teach part-time in a village school in Somerset. This is the story of how I fell in love with education.
My introduction to teaching was in 2005, while I was living in Germany, when I mentored a group of young immigrants to produce a documentary that highlighted their struggles with racism. I loved seeing their enthusiasm and joy, as the film they had made was greeted with critical acclaim at its TV and film festival debut. I felt immensely proud to have been involved and discovered a real passion and talent for teaching.
As a result of this project I was commissioned to develop and deliver two film production projects within two very contrasting German secondary schools (a Gymnasium and Realschule), using a combination of both theoretical and practical activities (all led in my second language of German) and with impressive results - the development of professional media competencies, an increase in workload and attainment, and a high number of students being so inspired by the project that they pursued media/film focussed work placements, degrees and careers! This was a pioneering project that had never been attempted before in Germany and has since become the model for delivering film projects within the classroom.
Upon my return to England, in 2008, I helped to plan and develop a Creative and Media Diploma to a cluster of Wiltshire secondary schools, and delivered the professional media skills component of that course. At the same time, I was lecturing at Wiltshire college on their BTec Media course and continuing to work as a media professional (primarily as a wedding photographer).
One of the highlights of my career so far has been working as Artist in Residence at two local secondary schools.. Each role lasted for six months, and involved bringing film, animation and photography into the classroom for cross-curricular learning. I remember vividly how delighted I felt when I saw the ‘lightbulb moment’ of a bottom set Year 10 pupil, who finally understood how algebra works, after I had helped him create an animation setting out the problem in a step by step way. I loved that, by changing the way in which he learned, it embedded the knowledge.
Although my early experience was primarily with secondary school age children, I soon began to appreciate the wonder of helping younger children learn, after I became a father to my own two children. My children were initially home educated and I led several home ed groups, educational visits and projects, to help encourage a social and group learning dynamic. I loved the way in which children of different ages would inspire and learn from each other and helped to facilitate this process by running weekly forest school, lego club and film club, all aimed at children aged 5-11. I enjoyed creating sessions which were child focussed, and the challenge of helping each child discover new experiences and environments in their own way. I thrived upon the challenge of responding with suitable and engaging activities, all within the parameters of a safe environment.
Throughout my PgCE I have enjoyed the opportunity to improve my own pedagogical knowledge and skills and feel that I am constantly developing, applying and adapting these skills to suit the class and environment I am working within. It has been a really interesting personal discovery over the past 12 months to see how strong my maths subject knowledge and teaching is!
In my spare time I enjoy playing the guitar and singing and put these talents to good use in the classroom, recently inspiring the children to write, rehearse and perform their own raps about the Great Fire of London, as well as exploring how music evokes feelings and teaching them to write and record a music composition.
Over the past 3 years I have worked with the music charity Wiltshire Rural Music, bringing live music and music-making opportunities to isolated members of the community. As a result of working for a music charity and years of delivering workshops and projects with charitable organisations, museums and art centres, I have established a lot of professional partnerships and collaborations. Some of these have been particularly interesting to bring into a classroom environment, such as working with Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, and bringing their archive, specialists and knowledge in to school to bring an oral history project to life!
Here is one of the school projects in collaboration with Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, and the animations I helped the children produce in response to their learning.