The path to becoming a physics teacher is challenging yet incredibly rewarding. Choosing which route to take and starting your training can be a daunting experience, but you’ll be supported along the way.
Aloka: Trainee teacher and IOP Scholar
Before beginning my physics teacher training I was a full-time nuclear physicist. I wanted to get back to the basics of physics and learn how to pass on my knowledge to the younger generation. I chose to train through a school-led (non-salaried) route because of the support offered and experience of learning to manage behaviour.
The financial support, offered by the IOP Teacher Training Scholarship, has meant I can afford to change careers. As a scholar I have access to intellectual support and a physics community, which has meant that I am not alone in discussing how best to teach physics in a way that is accessible to all students. Once I have completed my training year, in 2015, I’m looking forward to developing my physics teaching practice and meeting other physicists.
Andrew: Trainee teacher and IOP Scholar
In my undergraduate course I chose a physics teaching module. It was one of my most successful modules and I really got into the pedagogy of teaching. That experience really woke me up to the real possibility of teaching as a career.
I am currently doing a full time PGDipEd in Physics with Maths. It was a really difficult decision deciding to train through a university-led provider rather than school-led, because I had been working in a school that I was comfortable with. I chose the PGDipEd, similar to a university-led PGCE, because I wanted to go back to university where I have the opportunity to build a strong peer group and have more time to consider teaching practice, before heading into the classroom. Once I’ve finished my training year I am really looking forward to planning lessons and being able to shape and augment a scheme of work.
The IOP support, provided through the staff and scholar community, makes you feel like you are part of something big and extremely important. The national network of peers helps me motivationally, and will become increasingly useful as my career progresses in the future.
Rachel: Newly Qualified Teacher
(Completed an SKE course)
I studied Environmental Geoscience at university. I then spent two years in a primary school gaining experience as a classroom. I wanted to utilise my degree and inspire other people to study science at a higher level. I’m very passionate about encouraging girls into physics, especially as when I studied physics at A Level, I was the only girl in all three classes; I'm shocked to hear this is not changing fast enough.
I started teaching as a Newly Qualified Teacher in September. I was really looking forward to having my own class, and the support of an IOP mentor if needed! Being part of the science department was something I felt passionately about, I want to try and make a difference to the physics teaching going on.
As my degree was not pure physics I had undertaken a subject knowledge enhancement course (SKE). However, I know I will need to continuously build on my confidence for the first few years of teaching. I can call upon my IOP physics mentor in a moment of crisis, which is a huge benefit to me; I also love the community feeling that is provided by being part of the institute. You really feel like you will never be alone in teaching physics.
Lorenz: Newly Qualified Teacher
(Applied from outside the UK)
Before I started my teacher training I was working full time at a research institute in Germany. I decided to apply for physics teacher training in England, not only because I want to pass on my passion for physics to the next generation, but because I’m keen to see how a school system works in another country.
I was fortunate enough to be awarded an IOP Teacher Training Scholarship which enabled me to focus on my studies without financial worry. The IOP community opened up my contact with other scholars in my region and gave me the opportunity to familiarise myself with some of the support structures that are in place for physics teachers.
My advice to anyone applying from outside of the UK is to start the process as early as you can. Prepare yourself for additional expenses during the application process, such as: postage costs, IELTS, literacy and numeracy tests and flights for interviews. Finally, double check with your provider when your tuition fees are due and when you expect to receive your loan, bursary or scholarship.