Our graduates Marina Boyer, PGDE Secondary French

Tell us a bit about your background...
I was born and raised on the Reunion Island, which is a French island in the Indian Ocean. I studied American and British literature and civilisation at university. I finished my studies in Paris.  I had the opportunity to be a French Assistant in English schools for two years. This allowed me to improve my English and learn more about the culture. I always wanted to teach in British schools and as Scotland is a country that has always attracted me, I decided to try my luck.

What inspired you to become a teacher?
Teaching has always been a profession that interested me. My years as a French Assistant made me realise that I wanted to teach French in the UK. When I returned to France, I worked in schools to get used to being around students and to learn more about the profession. I also taught English to children from nursery to primary school. This reassured me that teaching was what I wanted to do.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
My favourite teacher was my English teacher, Mr Magi. I loved being in his class. He made me love the English language and the English culture. He was patient, a good listener and kind to his students. He made sure that everyone felt comfortable in his class and that we were not afraid to try and speak up.

Why did you select the University of Strathclyde to study the PGDE?
I chose to study at Strathclyde because when I was researching for a PGDE in Scotland, I realised that Strathclyde had a great reputation. The Modern Languages PGDE course met my expectations, and I was eager to join. The interview, with my future mentor Kandi, only confirmed my desire to study at Strathclyde.

Do you have any memorable moments from your placement experiences?
My placements were in two different types of schools. But I enjoyed my experience in both schools. The teachers and the school staff were great and very helpful. I was surprised at how quickly the students get used to your presence, especially when you become their teacher. If they trust you and see that you are there to help them, they will confide in you. I remember one student telling me that she was afraid to speak up in front of everyone, even for a single answer. She was so anxious that she couldn’t enjoy the lesson or focus. This made me realise that she trusted me enough to share her fears with me. It reassured me that I had managed to make a connection with at least one student during my first experience as a teacher.

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
I would say that if teaching is what you want to do, go for it. Even if it will be a difficult year, with the support of your tutors, family, and friends, you will be fine. Have confidence in yourself.

Tell us a little bit about your teaching career so far...
So far, the beginning of my teaching career is going quite well. The school staff are helpful. The PGDE prepared me for the job. Even though it can be scary to be alone in front of a class, you quickly find your bearings. Our mentor is also there to help us if we need it. I am very lucky to be part of the language department in the school where I am. The teachers are very supportive.

How have you adapted to working through COVID, and the changes this means for teaching?
Covid has made things complicated, but everyone is in the same boat. So, there is a lot of mutual help between teachers. It requires us to be flexible in our practice. Fortunately, thanks to the placements during the course, I was able to reapply what I learned. I asked questions to the teachers already in the school to get their advice. I think the best thing to do is to do your best, to be proud of what you do. It is a complicated situation for the students and for the teachers. However, with communication, support, and effort, you get there little by little.

What surprised/delighted you most about the transition from the PGDE programme to holding a full-time teaching role?
What surprised me most was how easy it was to settle into the role of teacher. Having your own classes allows you to build up a good rapport with the students. You get to know them well and over a longer period of time than in placements. You also become part of the team immediately. The teachers, who were already in the school, are happy to see you come in because you bring something new and fresh.

Any final points, or words of wisdom?
To remember the role you have for the students. You are role models for them, and it is important to set a good example every day. Be always professional. Be resilient and don't be afraid to ask for help when needed.