PGDE Secondary Education - GeographyKim MacPherson, UK

Tell us a bit about your background…
I am from Old Kilpatrick and went to Stirling University to do my undergraduate degree in Environmental Geography. I graduated in 2018 and I’m now studying PGDE Geography at University of Strathclyde.

What inspired you to be a teacher?
I always have wanted to be a teacher, since I was a kid. I decided I wanted to be a geography teacher a little later on. I thought I may have taught physical education, but I had a change of heart and I’m delighted with the choice I’ve made.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
When I was in primary school, Miss Gibson, I had her for three years. She was lovely if you were well behaved and strict (but fair) if you weren’t! My geography teacher in high school was really great as well.

Why did you choose to study PGDE Geography at the University of Strathclyde?
To be honest, I have just heard good things about the University of Strathclyde, especially for teaching and the PGDE course. My cousin had a very difficult experience at another university (don’t worry, I won’t name them), so I wanted to make sure my experience was completely different!

Did you seek any support during the application process? Please tell us about this.
My friend was there for moral and application support. I found the application process quite simple really!

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde so far?
My course is split in two sections, lectures and study at the university and real classroom experience (also known as placement). I have really enjoyed studying at the university, the other people doing the PGDE course are so nice! And, well… despite appearances us teachers are up for a laugh as well!

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
I would probably just say that the workload is really quite intense. Just be prepared for it. I had to sacrifice my part time job, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. After spending time on lesson plans and everything else, working part time would be too much!

What have been your main challenges at university/in placement, and how did you overcome them?
It’s not always easy in the classroom, you need to work to gain the kids respect and reflecting on it, I will definitely go into my next placement with more confidence and authority. This is the real benefit of visiting two different schools on placement during your time at university, you can reflect and adapt for placement two!

What did you think of the support available during your course?
My tutor called me about one of the situations I had found myself in. Having that personal support is great and really helped me through that time. I would also say that using the #StrathPGDE Twitter hashtag is great – if you’ve had a hard day, it is a great community to push each other on and say ‘you can do it’. I was originally sceptical in setting up a ‘teacher’ Twitter account, but I am so pleased that I did, I now have that extra level of support.

What are your ambitions for the future?
Well… I want to get a full time job as a teacher. I would love to be a department head and I would also eventually like to support in pupil support/pastoral care.

Any final points?
I would say, something really great about the course is that University of Strathclyde have subject specific tutors. This isn’t available at all universities. My tutor has so much knowledge on the curriculum – it’s great to work together with specific knowledge to benefit my experience!