Life after TLI - Chris's story
Chris graduated in 2019. Here, he tells us about studying with The Learning Institute, and what happened next.
Course: FdA Teaching and Learning, BA (Hons) Professional Practice
Year of graduation: 2019
Tell us a bit about what you are doing now
I am still working at the school where I was a parent helper, 1 to 1 support and teaching assistant for the last 9 years, but now as a newly qualified teacher (N.Q.T.).
Lately, I have been heavily involved in creating the home learning for the school and especially Year 2. In September, I was going to be a Year 2 PPA cover teacher as we have four classes in the cohort, however, due to current circumstances etc, I shall be sharing a class with another Year 2 teacher until the bubbles can once again stream.
How did you find the process of returning to education/study?
The process of returning to education at the tender age of 44 filled me with dread. I had little to no experience of education after secondary school and had no idea what University was about. In the summer leading up to the start of the first year, I must have visited every emotion and thought from “This isn’t for me” and “What am I thinking?” to “this could be a nice challenge to take me out of my comfort zone”. I experienced severe doubt and panic on the morning of the first day until my extremely supportive wife told me in no uncertain terms to “get in the car and go, you’ll be amazing!”
I remember getting to the centre and standing outside, ready to turn around as this isn’t for me! After going in, I was greeted by the amazing staff who instantly put me at ease. The sessions started and slowly my confidence grew. It was never easy but did make me think and question my thoughts and ideas about teaching.
All of the tutors at The Learning Institute go above and beyond to offer support and to help you achieve and become the best versions of yourself that you can be. The experiences they offer, and nuggets of information, really do help you to build your teacher tool kit and be more prepared when you enter a classroom with 30 expectant pupils looking at you for guidance.
It is tough and family life can have a significant impact on your learning, but my advice would be, don’t hide it, tell you tutor and P.A.T. (personal academic tutor) so that they can give you the support you need. Sharing ideas and thoughts with other students is a vital support scheme as well. You will often get a little gem of an idea that will make you question and examine your ideas. Don’t ever hide away and try to continue as it will come and bite you. Listen to their advice always and take it on board, try their ways before you make your mind up. You’ll be surprised more than once.
Finally, a top cliche but so true in this case. If I can do it, then anyone can.
What did you enjoy most about studying for your degree?
I enjoyed meeting the other people and sharing stories and ideas. I enjoyed, mostly, the challenge of learning new things and reflecting on that learning, and then putting it into practice. I must also include the trip to Worcester for the graduation, seeing the tutors clapping as you receive your degree filled me with extreme happiness.
What was your biggest challenge during your study and how did you overcome it?
My biggest struggle was self doubt. How could someone my age who is not clever, possibly complete a degree course whilst working two jobs, finding time for the family and managing diabetes?
The answer was with the support of the tutors, fellow learners and my head teacher. As long as I was open about all my struggles, some of which were very heavy and dark, I was always shown a way forward. I had to ask for deferment for one of the modules, as the family had to come first for a bit, but this wasn’t an issue once discussed with the tutors.
Building strong relationships and taking the advice from TLI helped me to complete the degree to the best of my abilities.
How has your life changed since you graduated?
I am so proud to be able to say that I am a teacher, it fills me with joy every time I say it aloud. I have a new sense of personal pride and know that with the right support, I can achieve. Who would have thought that a “non-academic” that has been through university, teacher training and is now about to start the N.Q.T. training year could have gone this far? For the first time, I know that this is the career that would have made my Dad proud, even though I did OK as a professional DJ for 30 years.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about going back to education?
Don’t give in to your fear, don’t let it own you. If you are finding something scary or tricky, ask for help. You will get it and then some.
We all doubt our abilities as humans, but the reward on the other end replaces fear with overwhelming pride.