Tao Fu

China

PGDE Mandarin Graduate

I’m responsible for…
3 Year 7 classes, including one Mandarin Excellence Programme class, 4 Year 8 classes and the GCSE classes from Year 9 to 11. This makes a total of 21 teaching periods per week. I am also a co-tutor of Year 7 and run the after school catch-up club for my GCSE students on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In October, I was on a school trip to China which is very rare for someone who had just started with a school in September. I was looking after 24 pupils with my headteacher which was an absolutely amazing experience and demonstrated the benefits of trips for language learning.

I got my job…
Because the tutors at Strathclyde and the placements I did had prepared me for it. I was doing the flexible route to be a qualified teacher in Scotland as I am an international student, yet I ended up finding a job in England.

My course prepared me for the working world…
I loved all the courses at Strathclyde especially our ‘Tuesday club’. Our tutors were very professional and students always felt supported by them. They have had a wide range of teaching experience at different secondary schools and the most important thing was that they were very inspirational. 

I also loved my time on placement. For some reason, I did my placements at three schools, which definitely boosted my teaching skills. The experience of observing other teachers’ lessons and controlling your own teaching pace was invaluable.

My typical day…
To be honest, the very first term of my NQT year has been tough. Apart from 7 or 8 sleeping hours, I was literally spending all my time planning and teaching. I start every day with a cup of coffee or tea and sometimes I will miss breakfast as I am running late. I arrive at school at about 8.20am then I have 20 mins registration from 8.40 to 9.00 in another teacher’s room as my room is used for another form's registration. I quickly write down or update the date on the board and show my starter slide on the board. In my school, every pupil has an iPad, therefore, sometimes I just use Nearpod to deliver my lessons and set homework on Classcharts or Google classroom. I completed many observations this term when I ha some free periods. I also spent a lot of time reflecting on my experiences and completing the other paper work to become a fully qualified teacher. I have staff meeting on Mondays after school then my NQT training session on Wednesdays. I try my best to mark the books at least once per week for all of my classes. 

I get home about 8 or 9 o’clock every day but luckily, my landlady always cooks for me so that I don’t need to worry about my dinner. Then I will continue to work and try very hard to think about how to give my pupils a full range of activities.

My most memorable work moment…
It is actually my year 7 Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) class. They are selected to be in this programme which means they have to be committed to the morning lesson on Tuesdays from 8.00am to 8.40am and the after school session on Fridays from 3.30 to 4.40. They have about 4 teaching hours in school then 4 hours for their homework per week. We have covered a lot in the first term and sometimes they complained about homework as it was too much. We had the end of term assessment on 18th December 2018 and 44% pupils got a distinction, which surprised me as the characters are very difficult to remember and to write. They have been amazing and as a teacher, you can literally feel a great sense of achievement, as all your hard work has paid off.

The worst part of my job…
To deal with challenging pupils. There are many characters in my Year 8 classes and sometimes I just don’t know how to deal with them. The best way is to know them better. Mandarin is compulsory in our school for Year 7 and Year 8 but apparently some pupils are not interested in Mandarin or in any other languages at all. How to motivate those pupils and get them engaged is something that I am working on.

The best part of my job…
It is to know that most of my pupils like my lessons and that they like me. I was very pleased to see that they had written down some kind words on their Christmas cards. They said things like:-

“Thank you so much for being the best Mandarin teacher I have ever had!”

“Thank you for teaching me this term. I have learnt a lot.”

“Thank you very much for teaching me this term. I have learned a lot and really enjoyed it.”

“Thank you for being my Mandarin teacher. I had a lot of fun.”

My advice for other graduates…
Be kind to yourself. My tutor used to say that to us and also be kind to your pupils. Challenge your more passionate students while supporting your students that may not grasp the language as quickly and never leave any pupil behind. Be organised and plan in advance. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues questions and always find opportunities to observe other teachers’ lessons.

If I didn’t become a teacher I’d be…
A singer. Each time that I was thinking about shouting at my class (apparently sometimes you have to), I would try to calm down and explain that I don’t want to lose my voice as I really want to be a singer. Then my pupils would say something like “Miss, sing us a song”…

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