Teaching physics: spending my days talking about a subject I love

I started training to teach physics in September and I’m particularly enjoying my subject studies on how children learn, the psychological elements are fascinating and it’s a great opportunity to explore subjects outside of my own. I have chosen to study for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), because it allows me to study the theories surrounding children’s education before putting them into action, which as a scientist really appeals to me.

I am studying at the University of Cambridge. I was initially attracted to the structure of the course and the balance between time in the Faculty of Education and time on placement. My choice of programme was solidified upon meeting the subject lecturers when I went for my interview as I really felt they cared about the course they were delivering. Another factor for me was that modules from the Cambridge PGCE can be put forwards towards a Master’s in Education should I wish to return to academia later in my career.

“I got an immense sense of satisfaction from seeing people understand concepts as I explained them.”

In my third year at university, I was a “Peer Assisted Study Session” mentor for second years, and found it satisfying, so applied for a Teach Physics internship through the Ogden Trust. I spent five weeks at a school in Bristol observing, assisting, and eventually teaching, in the science department. I really enjoyed spending my days talking about a subject that I love, and I got an immense sense of satisfaction from seeing people understand concepts as I explained them. I missed the human interaction in my following internship in an industry research and development department, and suddenly realised I wanted to be a physics teacher!

Since graduating with my MSci in Physics from Bristol University in July 2017, I worked as yard manager to an international 4* event rider. This involved the daily care and often sole charge of a yard of 18 fit event horses. Whilst this is not directly related to teaching physics, there are a surprising number of transferrable skills, such as working under pressure, organisation, and getting the best out of my team. It gave me the experience of a completely different environment outside of academia, which I think has made me a much more rounded person, a quality which I can remember appreciating in my own teachers.

The IOP scholarship has allowed me to meet other scholars from different parts of the country and compare experiences, which has been massively insightful. It has also enabled me to attend training days on various areas of physics led by inspirational people who are passionate about teaching physics, and I am then taking all that energy back into the classroom with me.

  • The Institute of Physics is awarding Teacher Training Scholarships to individuals who have impressive subject knowledge, a passion to share their subject and the determination to become an exceptional teacher of physics. IOP scholars will benefit from £28,000 tax-free funding, as well as a package of support that includes CPD, networking events and IOP membership. Find out more and apply.

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