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Life as a Newly Qualified Teacher

Have you ever wondered what life is like as a Newly Qualified Teacher in the secondary education sector? Former PGCE student, Gemma Mills, shares her experience.

Gemma Mills headshotGemma Mills
Newly Qualified Teacher
PGCE: Dance Teaching (with QTS)
Training at Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) has equipped me with the skills that I need to work within the fast-paced secondary academy that I am now employed by. My Postgraduate Certificate in Education: Dance Teaching (PGCE:DT) training year was incredibly demanding and increasingly challenging. However, on reflection, my experience at the RAD is extremely rewarding and I have come to realise the progress that I made in such a short period of time. 

The first ever class that I taught as a qualified dance teacher was a BTEC Level 2 Dance Skills lesson. Ironically, this was the same unit which comprised the first lessons I taught on my first teaching placement as a PGCE trainee. I remember the rigorous planning and resourcing that took place in preparation for these lessons; the attention to detail did not alter throughout all aspects of my training. After all, this preparation ensured correct structure, content, pace and delivery; resembling somewhat the model lesson that was expected of me as a teacher.

With a bid to utilise the little planning time that I have as a qualified teacher, I reviewed and aimed to recycle the resources that I had spent so much time creating throughout my training year. However, I started to identify pitfalls in my well considered groundwork but also noticed how these aspects could be immediately improved. Additionally, I realised that with the skills that I have developed over the past year, I would now be able to plan these lessons within a fraction of the time. This highlights my growth and development in an area that I once found challenging in my training year.

Prior to starting the PGCE programme, I was working as a professional dancer over a ten-year period; I had therefore not undertaken any academic work in this time. I found the Level 7 academic work perplexing and soon realised that actually putting pen to paper was what consumed most of my time. However, with the support given to me by staff at the RAD, I gained confidence in my literacy skills. Additionally, I gained support to improve my time management and organisational skills; imperative qualities to sustain a career in teaching. By utilising the services that were provided by the RAD to support my skill development, I can now confidently work through my NQT year at speed, which enables me to keep on top of my workload.

The RAD have supported my progression throughout all areas of my training. One element that I found incredibly beneficial was being assigned to an RAD tutor whom supported me on a daily basis. This tutor not only guided my learning but was also a support system throughout the duration of the programme; understanding my personal strengths and areas for development. I believe that it is important to have a close working relationship with tutors and have certainly upheld this belief through to my NQT year. I have made it my priority to understand each and every student that I teach with an aim to positively affect their experience in education.