Name: Timothy Hilgenberg
Degree and university: PGCE Modern Foreign Languages, University of Warwick
Work Title: Teacher of German and French at CTC Kingshurst Academy, Birmingham. I teach French and German to mixed ability students from Year 7 through to Year 13.
Why did you decide to go into this sector? Early in 2007 I had the opportunity to leave my position as a consultant in the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) area with a view of starting a PGCE course to become a teacher. For years I’d found that it was getting increasingly difficult to find staff with good educational qualities and I felt it would be better to do something about it instead of lamenting it.
How did you find out about your particular course? I’d heard about the PGCE at Warwick and got in touch with Ann Barnes, the course leader at the time, to see if I had the qualifications that were required to train as a teacher. After a few short email exchanges it was clear that I should put in an application which I did and in the summer of 2007 I was accepted on the course.
Would you undertake further training to progress your career? Teaching is being increasingly professionalised and currently a MA in Learning and Teaching is being offered at Warwick. While the NQT year doesn’t really leave me the time to pursue this now, I am definitely thinking about continuing my professional development to ensure I am up-to-date with the latest insights and developments which will help me support the learning more effectively.
What do you most enjoy about what you do and are there any downsides?
Working with Children is a greatly satisfying activity. It’s great to see how from knowing nothing or very little, they grow into inquiring minds developing a liking and interest for your subject, challenging your own limits of knowledge.
When they don’t want to work or when they are "out of sorts" then it can be a nightmare, where you lesson is little more than crowd control … fortunately these instances are very rare at my school!
What skills do you think you need to succeed? Patience! You need to be willing to work hard and put the children first – this is no job for people with big egos. Of course you need a sound grasp of your subject as well as a keen interest in sharing it with learners.
What advice would you give graduates coming into this sector? Think carefully if you really want to do this – the PGCE year is hard, there is little time for friends and family and the NQT year is worse! You need to by 100% committed and you need to be prepared to put in long hours to produce resources. It’s not just "open books on …" but you need to be creative and willing to spend hours cutting out and gluing things that will be used for 2 minutes at most!
Is there anything you wish to add? If you think you can do it and you have had the opportunity to have a look at what it’s like in a couple of schools – go for it! It’s a life changing experience and you’ll never have another dull day at the office.