This week we’re celebrating one of Teach North’s trainee teachers who has bagged herself her first official teaching job! We’re thrilled to introduce you to Caitlin Whitmore. Caitlin studied Psychology at Lancaster University and is now undergoing her PGCE in Secondary Maths at Sheffield Hallam University. Due to complete her training later this year with Teach North, Catilin tells us all about her year as a trainee teacher.

Q. What made you decide to become a teacher?

“I worked as a cover supervisor in a school and within about a week I wanted to become a teacher. I just loved being in the school environment and I felt so comfortable being stood in front of a class. It was also something I realised I was really good at! However, I was taking classes of every subject and often at last minute notice. It really made me want to have my own classes and teach a subject I loved.”

Q. What did you imagine it would be like to be a trainee teacher?

“In many ways, it was exactly as I imagined but there has been a lot more to it than I initially thought, such as getting involved with activities outside of the classroom. I knew I was going to love my training year but it has exceeded my expectations. It has been the best decision I have ever made.”

Q. What was the application process like when applying to be a trainee teacher?

“It was straightforward, mostly because Teach North were so supportive! To be honest, I initially had been planning on training with a different provider but I fell in love with Outwood Grange Academies Trust. I couldn’t not do my teacher training through Teach North! I wrote my personal statement, sent my applications in and then waited for potential interview dates. The interview process with Teach North put me at ease because I was partly expecting to have to teach a lesson as part of my interview but this wasn’t the case. The wait between my interview date and getting my acceptance was only a couple of days but it felt like the longest wait in the world. The hardest part was when I accepted my offer and had to wait until September to start.”

Q. Why did you choose to train with Teach North over anyone else?

“I had previously worked in an Outwood school and loved the school value and ethos so I knew I wanted to train in Outwood schools. This is why I eventually applied with Teach North. It was the support I received from the course director (Emma) that really made me want to train with Teach North. She was so friendly and welcoming and supportive, even before I had started.”

Q. Can you talk us through the support you’ve received from Teach North?

“I have had constant support from the Teach North team throughout the past year from application to now, nearing the end of the course. When I had an interview for an Early Career Teacher (ECT) position they read and helped me with my personal statement, and they rang me before and after my interview. When we went into lockdown in January they made alternative arrangements for our placements and constantly communicated with us to put us at ease.”

Q. Take us back to that first day when you had to take a class yourself. What was it like and how were you feeling?

“I thought I wasn’t going to be nervous at all because I had been in front of a class but I was really shaky and sweating because I was so nervous. After this first lesson, I was so much more at ease when I was teaching and it just started to feel natural. But that first lesson was so nerve-wracking!”

Q. What has it been like training to be a teacher throughout the pandemic?

“It has been stressful! We had to learn how to teach online pretty quickly even though we’d only had a couple of months of classroom experience. It turned out to be an amazing learning experience. The quality of teaching that, as a trust, we provided to the students was amazing! Training in a pandemic has become unpredictable. If you can train to teach in a pandemic, you can do anything!”

Q. Can you tell us about your school placements?

“My first placement was at Outwood Academy Carlton which I was meant to be at from September to December. However due to the lockdown I remained working with Carlton until February. It was the best first placement and gave me such a good start to my teacher training. The staff and students there were so welcoming and taught me so much. My second placement is at Outwood Academy Adwick. I didn’t think I would love it as much as I loved Carlton but I instantly felt at home there and I love both placement schools! I have an amazingly supportive mentor and department and the students really are fantastic.”

Q. Can you tell us about the support you’ve received from Teach North in terms of applying for jobs?

“They put on lots of virtual sessions covering personal statements, interviews and jobs which gave us so much useful information for when we started applying. When I applied for a job with Outwood in December the Teach North team looked over my personal statement, called me to give me interview help and just continuously checked in with me.”

Q. Can you tell us about your first teaching job interview?

“I had my first and only interview in December and fortunately I was successful! It was a remote interview which was a little bit different but this helped ease some nerves too. The interview panel were really friendly which helped even more so.”

Q. What are you most looking forward to about having your first permanent job as a teacher?

“Having my own classes and starting to build relationships with the children. I am looking forward to having more control over my teaching and continuing to find my own style and approach.”

Q. Is there anything else you’d want to say to people thinking about training to be a teacher?

“I would recommend, if you can, getting some experience in a school. I was unsure if I wanted to teach until I got a job as a cover supervisor at Outwood Academy Valley. Within a day I knew it was the career for me and I wasn’t wrong! It has been the most exciting and rewarding experience and I can’t wait to be a maths teacher, I love it!” 

Thank you, Caitlin, for taking the time to tell us about your brilliant journey as a trainee teacher. From all of us here, congratulations on getting your first teaching job, we’re sure you’re going to be a fantastic maths teacher!

If Caitlin’s story has inspired you to find out more about becoming a teacher visit our Get into teaching page.