Tuesday, 1 March 2011
I'm an independent volunteer teacher of computing. I have spent 18 months teaching kids in India and 12 months teaching teachers in Sri Lanka. I find that I have an aptitude and a passion for what I've been doing. I love it! But it's all about to change when I return to the UK in April. I'll have no job and no home to go to, but worse: I fear I will lose my identity. Trouble is, I am not a qualified teacher and, because of that, I'm worried that I'll lose the "me" that I have become.
I'm 56 and for the last 30 months I've been volunteering as a teacher of computing - teaching basic stuff like office applications, simple graphics, and basic hardware in India. Internet, browsers, searching, email, Skype, photo editing, Twitter, Facebook, blogging etc in Sri Lanka.
Previously I was employed as an electronics design engineer, safety system programmer/maintainer and web master at JET - a research centre near Oxford. I was there for 21 years. (I have an upper second BSc in Electronics Engineering and Computer Science from 1981). It was a good job; I enjoyed it a lot, but the passion was not all it might have been.
For the last 18 months of my time there I helped out one afternoon a week at a Special Needs school. I found it so rewarding that I became convinced I would enjoy teaching. That was a key factor in me giving up my safe existence and taking a gamble.
What happens next?
I'll return to the UK in April and I'm wondering which direction I should take. My intention is to stay in the UK for 2-3 years or so, to spend time with my son and daughter (in their 20s), to get some teacher training in, earn a bit of cash and then go off volunteer-teaching again but in even less developed countries this time.
What I want to do is improve my teaching skills to make myself more effective in the classroom.
People tell me that a PGCE would give me the theory but not the classroom practice, and I wouldn't be able to take on paid work while training - it's a 100% commitment. And then there are the fees...
One ex-headmistress has suggested I get into school tech support by touting my CV from school to school - turning up on doorsteps and getting my face known. She says I will find schools willing to let me teach based on my experience alone, in addition to doing tech support work. I am not so sure.
A teacher has suggested the Graduate Teacher Programme but I understand there's huge competition for that, and I'm unsure how I get the employment element in the first place.
What I do know is that I love working with young learners and I would prefer some pedagogical challenge as part of any employment.
So, you see, I'm somewhat lost!
In writing this I'm hoping that someone might have some insights or opinions to guide me and I welcome your comments below.
[* Ref Sir Ken Robinson: Ideas for modern living: passion, posted 22/2/2011]
Posted by Clive at 20:36