Edge Hill helped me make the connection between the problems I had with words and dyslexia and, from extra help in exams to advice on job applications, the support the University gave me was life changing. Not only did it help me gain a First Class degree, it also had a positive impact on my own teaching.
When the credit crunch destroyed Patrick Link’s cabinet-making business, he opted to retrain as a teacher – a decision that changed his life as well as his career.
“I’d never thought about teaching but, when my business went bust, I felt that my woodwork skills and creativity would be a good foundation to teach a subject I’m really passionate about. I’ve always been interested in making things and taking things apart to see how they work, so I felt teaching would be a good way to pass on my knowledge and enthusiasm. If nothing else, I thought I could give young people some useful ‘handy’ skills that they could fall back on throughout their lives.
I’d only had two weeks volunteering in a school before the course started so I was quite worried about my lack of classroom experience. Life experience does help, though – years of teaching young apprentices and having four teenage children was excellent preparation for life in a secondary school. As the course was over three years I was able to do several placements at a diverse range of schools and that prepared me for most classroom scenarios.
My background meant that my woodwork skills were pretty good so, when it came to project work, the tutors often asked me for advice! However, the course introduced me to new materials and techniques that I’d never seen before and made me realise that doing something well and teaching it well are very different skills.
One unexpected consequence of the course was that I discovered I was dyslexic. I’d always struggled academically but it wasn’t until I enrolled at Edge Hill that someone bothered to ask why. Edge Hill helped me make the connection between the problems I had with words and dyslexia and, from extra help in exams to advice on job applications, the support the University gave me was life changing. Not only did it help me gain a First Class degree, it also had a positive impact on my own teaching. My teaching materials are now all dyslexia-friendly and I am better able to support dyslexic students.
I got a job as a D&T teacher at Stanley High School in Southport before I graduated. Although I felt quite confident about my teaching skills, nothing prepares you for being in control of your first class! Like most NQTs you have to deal with some challenging situations quite early on and question your own ability.
If you’re faced with a classroom full of disengaged kids, you’re forced to come up with radical ideas to get them interested. I created a treasure hunt to help with revision, for example, that used augmented reality to convey key concepts and QR codes to link to useful websites. I must have done something right because my students routinely made four levels of progress in the year (compared with the usual three levels), and these were considered the most challenging groups to teach.
I went on to win an Edge Hill Solstice Award for using technology in learning in 2013 and am now an RQT with responsibility for four GCSE classes. I recently won the status of Teach Design Centre for my school due to my passion for D&T and on-going contributions to making the subject ready for the future ahead.
Although I was pushed down the teaching path by the recession, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Watching young people use the knowledge I’ve given them and seeing the look of pride on their faces when they succeed is incredibly rewarding.
To find out more about studying this programme, please view full course information for BSc (Hons) Secondary Design and Technology Education with QTS.