PGDE Secondary Education - Home EconomicsMelissa Zofia Devine, UK

Tell us a bit about your background…
I grew up in Glasgow and have lived here most of my life with bouts of travelling, studying and working abroad. When I left school I worked in kitchens before studying fashion at Heriot Watt University. The kitchen experience sparked an interest in health and nutrition and how food affects you mentally as well as physically. After several years of working in kitchens and various fashion and costume jobs, I decided to put my skills to good use and go into teaching home economics.

What inspired you to be a teacher?
I want to give students the confidence to create healthy and exciting meals and to find cooking inspiring as opposed to being a chore.

Not enough young people know how and why food is so important to feeling content and living an active life and there’s a definite apathy about how processed food impacts you in the long term with Scotland’s obesity and heart disease issues.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
An English teacher in secondary, Miss Lamont. She had a great balance of discipline and humour – quite often scathing but very funny. I found English quite challenging but put in the effort because she made it rewarding!

Why did you choose to study PGDE at the University of Strathclyde?
I live and work in Glasgow so Strathclyde was the perfect option for me, allowing me to continue working part time.

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
Placements have been the most memorable and important part of my experience. When lessons go to plan and students are motivated and happy, it is an incredible feeling of accomplishment. As a teacher, you are able to positively affect students by the way you treat them and how you teach your lessons. Teaching is as much about passing over your knowledge as it is building relationships and trust.

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
Speak to current students and teachers – old and new. They will be able to give current and practical advice.

What have been your main challenges at university/in placement, and how have you overcome them?
I found the reading and essay writing challenging, especially since it had been so long since doing any kind of academic writing. A lot of students struggled with this and group chats were set up by students so peer support was an important part of my learning. The course also teaches you how to research and evaluate so I never felt left in the dark.

What do you think of the support available during your course?
The lecturers were always an email away and surprisingly fast at replying considering the amount of students! My subject tutors were incredibly approachable, understanding and practical. They have years of experience in their subject so can advise you with everyday classroom issues.

There’s an emphasis on mental health and we had a talk specifically on the support available including counselling, CBT, mindfulness, group therapies and hypnotherapy - all available to Strathclyde students.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to help build a strong home economics department with good links to further education and industry for both food and textiles. Allowing students to see future possibilities will enable them to make better choices which suit their personal goals.