Melissa Melvin BSc student

BSc Mathematics with TeachingMelissa Melvin, UK

Tell us a bit about your background...
I am from Larkhall, about 30 minutes outside of Glasgow, and have lived here my entire life. I went to primary and secondary school in Larkhall (Machanhill Primary and Larkhall Academy). After completing six years of high school, I went onto further education at Strathclyde to study Maths with Teaching.

What inspired you to be a teacher?
Being completely honest, teaching wasn't always a dream of mine. It wasn't until 5th year at high school when I tutored my friend in maths that I realised it was something I would consider as a profession. After this initial thought, the idea became more appealing to me and I considered a maths teaching course when it came the time to apply to university in 6th year. 

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
My pupil support teacher at high school, Miss McDonald, was one of my favourite teachers. She arrived at our school when I was in 3rd year, however she was only appointed as our guidance teacher in 5th year. Even though we only had her over the course of 2 years, she built a great relationship with our guidance class and really took an interest in our lives. She genuinely cared about each of her students and wanted the best for them, this is something I strive to achieve.

Why did you choose to study BSc Maths with Teaching at the University of Strathclyde?
In 6th year, I applied for various maths courses at both Strathclyde and Glasgow. I knew I wanted to attend university close to home and wasn't prepared to move away. I put Maths with Teaching as my first choice however I still wasn't completely set on teaching, what appealed to me more than the other courses were the job prospects. I knew exactly with this course what job I would be entering, whereas with the other courses I had no idea what route I would want to go down. I received an unconditional offer for the BSc Maths with Teaching course, and I accepted it straight away, this took the pressure off me. In the end I believe choosing this course was the best decision for me as I don't think I would have enjoyed, or coped with, doing 4 years of maths only at such a level.

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
The highlight of my time at Strathclyde is probably meeting new people and making new friendships at uni and also building relationships with the staff and pupils on placement. I was skeptical of whether I would enjoy the teaching aspect of my course as it wasn't something I had always dreamed of doing, however after spending time in schools I know I am definitely going into the right profession for me.

Tell us about your experience on placement...
I consider myself as quite a nervous and quiet person so I was anxious about how I would fit into the role of teacher, however I was surprised by how easily I adapted to this role. Placement has taught me to be more confident in my abilities and to believe in myself. I have also been extremely lucky with both of the departments which I have worked with while being on placement. Everyone in both departments has been so welcoming and helpful during my time spent on placement. I believe that having a strong department that work together to improve their department is extremely important in the teaching profession.

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course at Strathclyde?
This course is great in the sense that it eliminates that extra PGDE year, also the level of maths at which you study at university is difficult, but it is bearable. I have friends who are studying Mathematics and Statistics and other similar courses, and when I see the work they were doing in 3rd and 4th year, I know I wouldn't have been able to cope with it. There is a high level of maths required in the BSc Maths with Teaching however being on placement in 3rd and 4th year is a lot more enjoyable than studying for another set of uni exams. Don't get me wrong, it can get stressful on placement keeping your folder up to date with an abundance of lesson plans, but in my opinion it's all worth it.

What have been your main challenges at university/in placement, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge at university was probably the 3rd year exams, I think there was such a big jump between the level of maths in 2nd year and 3rd year which both me and my friends struggled with. As difficult as it was, putting the effort in really pays off and it's the best feeling finding out you've passed. On placement I think the biggest struggle is knowing how to discipline pupils, however all schools will have different policies on this matter and with the help of my department I believe I can improve on this. 

What do you think of the support available during your course?
I didn't ever seek any support from the university throughout my time at Strathclyde as I never really needed it, so I don't have a lot of knowledge of the support available. I had a group of friends from the very beginning of my course, so this helped me get through university, however my education tutor John Winter was always the "go-to" person for the teaching aspect of my course.

What are your ambitions for the future?
Right now, I wouldn't say that I am looking to gain my masters as my main priority is getting into a job and starting teaching straight away, maybe in the future I will look to return to Strathclyde to do a masters. In the future I think I would want to eventually aim for the role of Principal Teacher in the maths department.