STUDENT BLOG – Thinking of teaching? Think of YSIS

York Students in Schools (YSIS) provides students the opportunity to volunteer in local schools for a 10-week placement of half a day a week. Here’s what two recent student participants gained from the experience…

Amanda Walls – 3rd year Sociology student
Over the past few months I have been sorting out all the bits and pieces I needed to for the joyous task of starting my Primary PGCE application – and I know that this process was made so much easier because of my involvement with York Students in Schools (YSIS) and the support I received from Careers.

I have been involved with YSIS from the moment I arrived in York, both through placements and as a YSIS Student Manager. As part of a YSIS placement, I am constantly encouraged to reflect upon and evaluate my experiences; through log books, reviews and evaluations. Being able to look back at these resources and remind myself of what I had accomplished was so helpful when writing my personal statement – it is surprising the amount of important details that you can forget, especially when you have done more than one placement!

Without a doubt, the resources and support offered by Careers have been invaluable when writing my application. Over the summer I was able to email drafts of my personal statement and receive feedback, and then when I was back in York I had numerous appointments with Careers Advisers to refine my application. What is great about the appointments is that you are never told “yeah, that will do”, the advisers can always think of ways to further improve what you have written to strengthen the application.

When I then found out that I had got an interview for a PGCE I contacted Careers, and even though their PGCE interview workshop was scheduled for after my interview I was still provided with useful resources and advice. I really don’t think I would have got my interview if it wasn’t for YSIS or the help and support of Careers.

Jessica Cotton, University of Hertfordshire, Primary PGCE Through my time on a YSIS placement and part of the YSIS Student Management Group (SMG) I developed a variety of skills which I have been using on my PGCE. As a Student Manager I gave numerous presentations about my experiences and helped to run YSIS Plus and Pre-placement Training, which meant that I had to organise activities, lead activities, work with external speakers, and ensure that everything ran smoothly. By taking part in these activities I have been able to start teacher training with some effective skills, which have proven to be invaluable. One of which is my ability to talk confidently in front of groups of people, developed through my involvement with YSIS, which is essential when standing in front of a class of 30 primary school pupils!

Another very useful skill, which I am still developing, is classroom management. Through my placement I saw teachers’ model effective classroom management techniques, and further developed this knowledge and understanding through attending YSIS Plus workshops led by educational consultants from the City of York Council and the University. This has significantly impacted how I manage the workload, planning and organising my lessons and behaviour within the classroom.

The best piece of advice I can give to students taking part in YSIS or other volunteering activity is to keep notes of your activity, for example through the YSIS logbooks. It’s very easy to think that you will be able to remember all the important bits from your placement and other experiences, but trust me; you won’t be able to remember it all! Logbooks are a really great way to track your own progression, ideas, and skills development. In particular, when in the classroom it is important to try to be as reflective as possible, for example to think through the reasons why you did or didn’t like particular activities and in particular what was it about the task that made it work or not. If you are thinking of applying for any form of teacher training this will be really helpful when completing your application form and interview.

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The YSIS Student Management Group (SMG) contribute to the daily running of YSIS through holding daily drop-in sessions, helping with introduction talks and pre-placement training, and staffing initial visits. Any students interested in becoming a part of this fun and dynamic group, should email ysis@york.ac.uk

If you’re considering teaching as a career, use the following Careers resources: