Geography PGDE has eclipsed all my expectations

Photograph of secondary school classroom
Simon Davies
Current student
PGDE Geography
PGDE Geography student, Simon, sees the high caliber of students that the course at Sheffield attracts as a major resource for his teaching development, where he benefits from the mutual support of a diverse year group who have the mindset of sharing best practice and embracing collaboration.

The course is led by Alison Grasmeder, who not only is a progressive lecturer in her own right, she has over 20 years of Geography classroom experience where she has held senior positions. The course is underpinned by Alison’s overwhelming thirst and desire to give trainee teachers the best possible education through a blend of University lectures and school experience.

I was hesitant and nervous about the academic pressures at the start of the course, given my 9 year absence from education. However, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of resources available to mature students who were re-entering further education. Honestly, I cannot begin to share how beneficial these were and there really is a solution for every problem. My anxiety was replaced with a confidence that has proved fundamental to my development during the course.

Those considering a career change, there are so many benefits to having experience outside of the classroom. Firstly, is the application to the PGDE. Some of you may be weighing up PGDE vs PGCE and deterred by the additional workload. However, I strongly encourage you to pursue the PGDE. Having experienced the demands of a workplace, you will seamlessly adjust to the PGDE. Sure discipline is required, but you will be at such an advantage to others students having experienced ‘time to work’ and ‘time to relax’. I adopted this mindset to create a routine and once you have yours, the workload is really easy to manage and developing that off switch, as you will know from your previous career, holds the key to maintaining balance. The additional assignments of the PGDE significantly benefits your education as a teacher. They really are excellent CPD and have certainly accelerated the expertise of my teaching practice. Furthermore, it is important to recognise the cohort of students on the PGDE. I was blessed to have an incredibly diverse year, who had the mindset of sharing best practice and embraced collaboration. The University of Sheffield will attract very high-quality students that will serve as a major resource for your teaching development.

Then there is your experience in the classroom. Instantly being older, I felt I was treated more seriously by the students, almost that they saw me as an another teacher rather than a trainee. This is so advantageous when managing behaviour in the classroom, but also the rapport you develop with colleagues on placement, as the life experiences you have to share may help find more common ground. I have friends for life from my work placements and enjoyed incredible relationships whilst on placement who are a big part of my support group, as and when I need guidance during the infancy of my career. The University has excellent placements connections across Sheffield and the neighbouring regions. They will accommodate your needs wherever possible, be this travel or educational, to ensure you get the best possible school experience.

Applying for the PGDE at the University of Sheffield was a life changing decision I made, which I hope will now be life changing for the students I teach.

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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