Trainee Stories

Joanna Pickering

“I have been supported every step of the way.”

Joanna was an Occupational Therapist before she decided that she wanted to change her career and become a primary school teacher. She especially enjoyed the teaching side of Occupational Therapy, which involves re-teaching people skills that they have lost due to an accident or illness; this helped her to realise how much she would enjoy a career in teaching. She realised at interview stage this was the training programme for her. Joanna didn’t have much school-based experience, but felt the trust understood the value of the transferable skills that she had to offer. 

Joanna’s Story

I enjoyed the teaching aspect of Occupational Therapy so much that I realised that teaching was what I really wanted to do, full time. I also knew that I wanted to work with children, so training to become a primary school teacher seemed like the right step for me to take, even though it wasn’t the ‘easy option’. It’s never an easy decision to change career, as you are stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking a risk, but I was sure that teaching would suit me better in the long term and that I would be happier in my work. I have no regrets as I have thoroughly enjoyed my training year so far, and I love teaching.

When I was applying for teacher training courses, some would not even consider me because I did not meet their checklist of required experience. I felt I was looked at as an individual and they focused on the transferable skills that I had and understood how they would be valuable within a teaching role. They then helped me to gain the school experience that I needed for the programme.

I have been supported every step of the way on my journey towards becoming a teacher. I really appreciated the fact that they understood that everyone on the training programme had come from different backgrounds, and had different skills and experiences that they could bring to the table. The trust understand that everyone’s journey into teaching is going to be different, and as a result of this understanding, they make sure that they offer tailored support to meet our individual needs.

The support that I’ve received so far has been great. On the attachment that I’m on now, I’ve had lots of support from the Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher, who are English and Maths leads. They have particularly helped me with my lesson planning, which is something that I struggled with initially. Through their support, and through the support of my mentor, I have really started to progress in this area, and feel much more confident in completing my planning independently now.

I was also strongly supported in developing behaviour management skills in my first placement, as my mentor shared a range of strategies with me which I was able to implement. I was then given lots of useful feedback on how well the different strategies had worked in practice in my lessons, and this helped me to reflect on the approaches which worked best in different situations and contexts. I now feel much more confident and capable in this area.

As a group of trainees, we have been encouraged to support one another. When it comes to writing assignments, we investigate the relevant research together, and share useful articles and resources with one another. We also discuss our teaching practice and share ideas for lessons. I never feel alone, because there is always someone to turn to for advice or support.

While still training I’ve been offered a job in one of the Trust schools. This is something that I’m very excited about and that I really wanted. I feel very strongly about the core values of the Trust which are: family, insisting on excellence, doing good as you go, embracing innovation, and seizing success. As part of our training we get to visit a lot of the different schools within the Trust, and the focus on these values is evident across all the schools. They make the Trust an amazing place to be a part of, and that’s the reason I want to continue my teaching career here.

I think the best thing about teaching is when you see the sense of achievement on a child’s face when they’ve made progress; it’s an amazing feeling!

Watch Joanna’s Video

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