Ben is in his first year of teaching Computer Science, 3D printing and IT at UTC Swindon and has, this month, been promoted to Curriculum Leader of Digital and Computing – a fantastic achievement and something which just reflects the fantastic progression opportunities at this college.
Before joining the UTC last September, Ben undertook a ‘School Direct’ training programme to become a full-time teacher.
He said: “There are three main routes to becoming a teacher; you can go to university, you can take the ‘teacher first’ route which is an intensive two month course, or you can learn via School Direct. The latter route offers you placements in two schools, alongside assignments, over the course of a year. On day one you are placed in your first school, but this way you are able to truly experience what this career path entails.”
Ben’s inspiration for working in education stemmed from teaching martial arts – “I used to teach Taekwondo and I found that I got the most satisfaction out of watching others succeed and this is why I decided to give it a go and I haven’t looked back since.”
Following the year-long School Direct programme, Ben began interviewing for teaching positions.
“UTC Swindon impressed me the most out of all the schools/colleges I applied for. The main reason for this was the interview process. It was the only school that involved their student board in the interview and to be part of the decision making process. This just proved to me how much they trusted and respected the opinions of their students.”
He continued: “I also liked the fact the UTC has smaller numbers – you are able to build better relationships with students as individuals.”
Reflecting on his first lesson at UTC Swindon, Ben said: “I remember it well. It was Year 10, set three. Understandably, I had worries beforehand as it was a brand new class and we didn’t know each other yet, but I spent that whole first lesson getting to know them, and for them to find out what I like; this set out expectations from the very start.”
Ben attributes positivity, resilience and empathy as being key to teaching:
“I believe that to be a good teacher, you need to be able to find enjoyment from the little things! That’s important. No matter what the issue may be, you need to keep at it. You cannot let anything go with teaching. I also believe in setting high standards. For example, at the start of every lesson I greet students at the door. I do this to set a precedence for the rest of the lesson. I can then greet each pupil individually and check that they are all OK. If I notice someone isn’t, I can then check in on them during the lesson.”
He continues: “I also think it is important to gain respect and trust from your students and build relationships. You must be empathetic but also realistic and honest with them and never give them false expectations.”
There is not one particular learning style that suits everyone and being a teacher at UTC Swindon allows you to give a more bespoke approach to each individual, tailored to their needs – “Some students like to ask questions and work out the answers, some like to think independently, and some need to build up their confidence first, then work out the answers. Every pupil is different. Teaching at this UTC allows you to give them that individual support.”
Ben says that the biggest reward he gets from teaching are those ‘light-bulb moments’ – “when a student has grasped something you’ve been working with them on for a while; that for me is a big highlight. I get satisfaction out of their success, so when they receive the results they had hoped for, or perhaps hadn’t expected and is a nice surprise, that makes it all worthwhile and is so rewarding.”