Our graduatesEmma Cassells, PGDE Modern Studies, UK

PGDE Modern Studies Graduate Emma CassellsTell us a bit about your background...
I grew up in Fife where I completed both my primary and secondary education. In S6, I was really uncertain about what I wanted to do as a career. For a long time I had thought about the prospect of becoming a lawyer and applied to do the LLB Law course and was fortunate enough to be given an unconditional offer. However, after leaving school in May, I made a very last minute decision and I cancelled my UCAS applications as I doubted this was what I really wanted to do. After a month or so reflecting upon my decision, I applied for the Criminological Studies degree at Abertay University in Dundee and was lucky enough to gain a last minute space on the course. This decision stemmed from the Advanced Higher Modern Studies topic I learned about in S6.

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I wanted to become a teacher to try and make a difference in young people's lives and to hopefully inspire the same passion and interest in my subject that I have. In such a fast paced world, Modern Studies is a great subject to be able to explore newly occurring issues/topics further. 

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
When I was at school, I was fortunate to have a lot of great teachers and in particular my French and Modern Studies teachers. They offered great support and to this day we still keep in touch. They made learning so enjoyable and interesting that I stayed with their subjects to Advanced Higher level.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying the PGDE at Strathclyde?
I would highly recommend studying the PGDE at Strathclyde. The lecturers are so passionate about education and what they teach and it really is an excellent course in terms of preparing you for the world of teaching. Colleagues in the teaching profession were envious of all of the different learning opportunities offered to me when I was on the course as the modules and additional opportunities we had were so relevant and exactly what we needed before entering our probationary year.

What did you learn during your placements?
Use your time on placement to learn from more experienced colleagues. Soak up as much as you can so that you can take it all with you into your probationary year and your own classroom. Most of all, you should enjoy your placements, as while they are a really good experience preparing you for probation you don't quite have the full demands of being a classroom teacher so you should enjoy every minute of it and take as many opportunities given to you as it will make you a stronger practitioner in the future.

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
The best advice I could give to anyone wanting to undertake the PGDE course would be to hit the ground running. It is a full-on fast paced course but if you ensure you are organised and are prepared to put the work in you will succeed. The lecturers are very approchable and knowledgeable in their subjects and specialities so draw upon their help if necessary.

Where are you working now?
Currently I am working at Lochgelly High School in Fife and I was fortunate enough to secure a job here after my probationary year.

What is the best part of your job?
I don't think there is a "best" part of being a teacher. It is a career that can be incredibly difficult and challenging at times but equally it is rewarding and enjoyable. I really like when pupils become passionate about Modern Studies related issues and you get great satisfaction when pupils learn something that you have taught them which makes you feel like you are really making a difference.

What are your ambitions for the future?
Currently, I am really enjoying being in the classroom and for the foreseeable future I don't see that changing. However, who knows what the future holds but I am enjoying where I am right now.

Any final points or words of wisdom?
Absolutely apply for the PGDE course! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from it. Networking is key! Your PGDE colleagues can help make it an easier year when you help one another and collaborate together. I was really fortunate to have a great group of people on my course and to this day we still help one another out when we can.