Teacher Trainee journeys: Oliver Seadon

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Oliver is a teacher trainee currently on the 2020/2021 cohort of our Harris ITE Teacher training programme. With a specialism in English, he sheds light on her experience so far.. 

Earlier this year the industry I worked in for fifteen years closed for the foreseeable future, so I’ve decided to do something I first applied to do three times in 2005, 2006 and 2007 but never quite had the courage to follow through: train to be a teacher.  

All it took was a global pandemic.  

Most recently, I was a tour director for Cirque du Soleil and, so, having run off to join the circus once before it feels in many ways like I’ve done so again by stepping foot into a secondary school. There’s certainly a circuslike quality to it: clowns; acrobats; each class has a ringmaster, which sometimes isn’t me; and I’ll stop the circus analogy before mentioning wild animals. It can be pretty entertaining; gasp-inducing spectacles can be achieved, ‘cos I’ve seen them. 

I am going to teach English rather than drama. I love English literature, I had the most wonderful A-Level English teacher, Sue Dawson, and this summer I completed an eight-week preliminary course to enhance my subject knowledge. It all feels a great fit for a new challenge and, for the last five months or so, has been an exciting theoretical prospect looming in the distant-albeit-increasingly-closer future. 

Now, though, I actually have to do it.  

I now have to set foot in a classroom and teach teenagers why Shakespeare was the greatest British playwright and why exactly George Orwell’s Animal Farm, written in 1943 as an attack on a decades-dead dictator, still speaks to us today. Thankfully, though, for these teenagers, I first have the opportunity to watch many other experienced teachers teach their lessons before I do it myself. 

I’m nervous. My nerves exist on a variety of levels, but I’m mostly nervous about getting it right. I’m reminding myself every day, though, that the sooner I get comfortable with getting it wrong, the better. Because I am likely to get it wrong – every day, and fairly publicly. As much as I annoy even myself by writing this, practise does make perfect. Although, as perfection is pretty unattainable, I am entirely happy that, for now, practice instead just makes me pretty good. 

The fantastic thing is that I don’t have to do this on my own. I’m one of a team of around 200 new teachers training with Harris. Within that team, around 20 of us are training to teach English and a solid few handfuls of us are career changers, so there’s a lovely breadth of experience and support to draw on as we go through this training year together. As much as leading teams is what I’ve got used to in my career, it feels really good instead to just be part of one. 

Whilst nervous, I’m excited to get started. I also figure that if we can learn to teach in the times of coronavirus, it can only get easier after this. 

Want to know more about our teacher training programme journeys? Read more here.

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