Emily Conibere

Current employer: Learning Academy Partnership (South West)

Current job title: Year 3 Teacher and Physical Education Coordinator

Current location: Torquay

"Studying with Plymouth helped me with its integrated placements and periods on campus. Being able to combine theory and practice was helpful in developing myself as a teacher. My subject leader module really benefited me as well as I know similar BEd courses do not offer this module."

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I have been working for my current employer since 1 September 2016. I actually applied for and was successful in obtaining my job as a year 3 class teacher back in March 2016.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

Without my degree, I wouldn’t be able to work within my chosen career path. In order to teach you need to have a degree and Qualified Teacher Status, so for me as I’ve always wanted to be a teacher it made sense to go for the BEd pathway, to get directly in to teaching rather than going down a PGCE or Schools Direct route where a degree is required before teacher training begins.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Well, I have only just started out but it has been a massive learning curve already! Nothing quite prepares you for the multi-tasking, juggling act that is being a teacher. The most difficult part has been achieving a work-life balance as much as possible. Being new to the profession I just want to get everything done but that’s not always possible. Prioritising is definitely the first lesson I have learnt from being a teacher.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

I have been teaching for a term and a half now and the most exciting thing I have done so far is just being responsible for the education of 25 seven and eight-year-olds. Getting to know them and what makes them tick and trying to understand the best way in which I can enable them to achieve their full potential. Also, coming back after Christmas, I have seen many of them making leaps of progress which makes me feel very proud of them and myself.

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

I would tell myself to relax a bit more. I feel like I did everything I wanted to at the university. I went on trips abroad, I joined and coached as part of a sports club, I was in a society, I definitely socialised! I just think not stressing out so much about assignments would have been helpful. I achieved the classification of degree that I always hoped for.

If you were just about to graduate again, what would you do differently?

I would tell myself to just enjoy every second of university even more than I already did. Even those late nights in the library, even those 'early' morning lectures, even those scary 'I can’t do this' placement moments because it is over very quickly and once you have joined the real world of work after graduation, you look back on your time at university and think, that was the best time.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?

I would say that you really have to be passionate about teaching! Passion, enthusiasm and a real love for children and their education is what will spur you through your assignments and placements. Teaching is a very hard 24/7 job, you can’t just leave it on a desk for the weekend. You have to be sure it is what you want to do and go for it wholeheartedly. Also, get as many experiences working with or helping with children as possible, the more experience you have in a wider range of circumstances, the better your chances at interview to stand out.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth helped me with its integrated placements and periods on campus. Being able to combine theory and practice was helpful in developing me as a teacher. Also, the many opportunities I had to work with children as part of my course, alongside my lectures, and particularly through my subject specialism gave me advantages and wider experiences that I could draw on at interviews. My subject leader module really benefited me as well as I know similar BEd courses do not offer this module. This gave me a chance to delve into middle leadership and potentially help in my future career.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

I gained many skills from my course, I gained many during my teaching placement which I have carried with me into my profession. I also developed the skill of academic writing, critical thinking and analysing.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

As part of a BEd programme, the placements are integrated throughout your three years to enable you to achieve your Qualified Teacher Status. These placements were invaluable in terms of the range of settings, children and staff that I encountered. I was able to teach in such a diverse range of schools, small village schools with mixed year group classes to large inner city schools with 150 children per year group. This diversity enabled me to adapt my practice to cater to many different children.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

So difficult to choose just one! My favourite memory has to be visiting Dartmoor with my fellow Physical Education Specialists, staying on the River Dart for a week as part of an outdoor activity programme. This was just such a fun week, full of challenging moments as well as exciting ones. We all bonded particularly closely and felt like a real team of trainee teachers.

Do you stay in touch with other University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?

There is a large network of teaching alumni and lecturers through various social media groups that I am a part of, this is very useful with keeping up to date within the teaching profession and I know that there will always be someone I am able to contact should I need further advice.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth, and why?

I would recommend taking a course at Plymouth because it is such a vibrant and diverse university in a fantastic city. The support you will receive, the friendships you will make and the experiences you create will last you a lifetime.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Wherever you study and whatever course you take, as long as you commit to it and enjoy everything that comes your way, university will be the best time of your life!

Child climbing up climbing wall, Image courtesy of Shutterstock