My first experience of teaching was with a company called English Business in Hamburg – in 1996. I taught classes of business people practical English. I had to go back to my books as far as teaching English was concerned – the experience of learning German as a foreign language helped, but the details of English grammar never really came up as a native speaker. It was a struggle, with no formal training, but I did gain experience of guiding a room full of adults through training materials, getting them to participate in discussions, and some experience in lesson planning.
Havering College – the Beginning
On moving back to the UK in 2000, the local college was the first place I looked for a job, and I was in luck. They had built a new computer centre with 70 workstations, sometimes classes were held there, sometimes it was open access for all college students. I helped out in the classes – often teaching adults to use computers, and maintained order at times when the room was full of teenage students.
Being in the Education environment, and working with the internet and online resources in 2000-2005 let me develop my computing and web design skills, as well as being able to compare my work with what was on the market at the time. There was a lower threshold of learning to become a subject expert in those days. I was still studying with the OU, where I studied Object-oriented programming with Smalltalk and Java, and I took college courses in HTML and C++.
Teaching proper, and the Postgraduate Certificate of Education
Working among all these teachers, who I am teaching to use computers, I couldn’t let the opportunity to get a proper teaching qualification pass me by. The PGCE with Greenwich University was a 2 year course, involving 120 days of teaching. There was a large practical element – a teaching portfolio with regular inspected lessons and a theoretical component – Essays on the psychology of learning, various learning theories, as well as our own project work – where I looked at building effective e-assessments.