Five Unexpected Ways You’ll Use Your Education Degree
When education is the focus of your studies, there tends to be one single arena that is the focus of most of your work. The classroom. Most of your lectures, your studies, and your practice time is focused on getting you ready enough so that you can face a collection of 20-35 young people with the kind of confidence, ability, and aplomb.
While this is definitely the biggest focus of what you’ll do with your educational expertise, it is far from the only thing. As you study and prepare for every aspect of your future teaching career, consider these other ways that your pedagogy expertise might come into play beyond ‘teaching’ in the abstract.
Extracurriculars – There are a wide body of hobbies, sports, games, and areas of interest that many schools will offer as the kind of classes that can really enrich a child’s life, and their experience of education as a whole. Teaching an extracurricular class can be a very different mission to a normal class, and so a different approach may well be required.
It is tempting to think that since children who attend an extracurricular class are more motivated in that particular field, that things will in fact be easier and more enjoyable overall. While there is certainly a great deal of truth to that, this also means that you have to be able to convey your own enjoyment clearly and openly in a way that you may not be used to in a normal classroom session. Like so much else in education, the skills involved here will take practice to master, and time to hone.
Pastoral Care – Children are not merely educational absorption receptacles. Like all of us, they have their own complex inner lives that will have complex manifestations in a school environment. Be it among their relationships with their peers, with their family, in religious groups or other community endeavours, or in that curious intermediate space between school and home, pastoral care involves work that could connect with all these.
As a teacher, you will be a key pillar in this life and work, and you will need to understand how best to take care of the children you are responsible for, while also knowing the limits of your responsibility, and where to stop. As part of your work in an education degree, you’ll learn not only what you can and cannot do for the children in your care, you will also learn what you can and cannot lead them to do for themselves.
Playground design – With such a high level of focus on the classroom it may seem as though the space in front of the white/black/smart board is the furnace of the educational coalface, and the playgrounds and games fields are the exhaust vents for releasing excess energy. The truth though is more nuanced. Every aspect of an educational institution, from the corridor arrangements to the school playground design is considered and arranged to maximise educational output. They just all do it in very different ways.
With a firm grounding in the intricacies of pedagogy and a grasp of the specific needs of the children under your care, you will find yourself using your expertise to consult with your school and the suppliers of your playground equipment, to come up with the best arrangement of sports equipment, obstacle games, and other outdoor entertainments, to make your children as ready and able to face the lessons of the day once they return from break.
Identifying Special Needs – Care for those with special educational needs is a highly specialised and deeply complex issue. It is therefore entirely right that such work be primarily conducted by individuals with a specific focus, and very particular qualifications in the field. However before children reach the stage where such experts are needed, their particular needs must first be identified.
The skills you will learn as part of an educational qualification will ground you in the essentials of special educational needs. Enough that with a careful eye and experience-honed judgement, you can see the specific issues that move beyond the everyday struggles of a child trying to understand a complex subject, and into a need for specialist help.
Planning School Trips – Logistics. Safety. Organisation. All these and more will be essential when arranging school trips, but these will only be the start. Any number of professions can boast the skills necessary to organise an event like this, albeit with one or two extra sections involving legal and practical concerns specific to children. As a teacher, you are not only organising such a trip, you are making sure learning happens alongside.
By studying how children learn in general, although your focus will be a classroom environment most of the time, it will also be about how a change of scene can really make a lesson or subject more engaging. You will then also be able to see how the particular ways the sites you are visiting also approach educational techniques, allowing you to fit the preceding and follow up lessons into a broader teaching scheme, not only in terms of content, but also technique.
The classroom may be the frontline of your educational career, but even the smallest knowledge of history will tell you that no army ever won a war by exclusively focusing its efforts on the frontline. By being ready for, and understanding of, the other directions your educational qualifications will take you, you make yourself a better rounded, more thoughtful, and overall better educator.