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How to get teaching experience: 8 top tips

Is it your dream to become a teacher? Find out how to get teaching experience, so you can give yourself the best possible chance of achieving your goal.

Aspiring teacher gets teaching experience in a classroom

Teaching can be a both challenging and rewarding career choice. In the UK, there are roughly 563,831 full-time equivalent teachers, all of who have had to navigate the competitive application process to pursue a career in teaching.

These days, if you want to become a teacher, you’ll require more than just a university degree. This means that teaching experience is now vital if you want to successfully navigate the journey to becoming a teacher and demonstrate your commitment to the profession.

In this article, we will explore how to get teaching experience so you can prepare yourself for the role and ensure you stand ahead of the competition. We’ll discusst the different ways to get teaching experience, the benefits of doing so, and some top tips. 

The best ways to get teaching experience

Not only will teaching experience help you to gain the right knowledge and skills needed for the job, but it will also showcase your commitment and ensure you get noticed when applying. Let’s take a look at how to get experience in teaching using these seven methods. 

1. Contact local schools and nurseries

Local schools and nurseries are always looking for volunteers to help out in the classroom. Where you decide to gain work experience will depend on the ages you ideally want to end up teaching, but gaining experience with different year groups is always encouraged.

This first-hand experience will help you to gain insights into different ways of learning and how teachers approach their roles. Whether it’s helping out with day-to-day classroom tasks or simply shadowing a teacher, getting stuck into a classroom environment is one of the most effective ways to get teaching experience and test the waters. 

2. Get in touch with youth groups

Another possible avenue is volunteering with youth groups or after-school clubs. Before you start looking for voluntary opportunities, it’s worth trying to align the group or club with the subject area or age group you want to teach, as this will help your application further down the line.

Gaining work experience outside of regular school hours will demonstrate just how committed you are to the role and will also allow you to interact with pupils in a slightly more relaxed environment. If you’re already doing some work experience at a school, then you can also enquire about helping out with any extra-curricular programmes. 

3. Apply for work experience placements

A lot of teaching degrees now involve some form of work experience placement, either as a module or an assignment. If your course doesn’t, then make sure you actively look to gain work experience yourself.

When applying for a teaching degree at a higher education institution, it’s always worth making a note of the work experience opportunities they offer. 

Finding work experience by yourself can often be tricky, so having additional help from your university or college is invaluable. If you’re unsure, then make sure you reach out to the university’s career development team for more information.

Check out our collection of online flexible teaching degrees if you’re looking to earn a degree around other commitments.

4. Be a mentor

There are ample opportunities to join a mentorship programme that pairs you with a young person who may require additional support. Try reaching out to local charities that cater to young people and see how you can help to make a difference. 

Not only will you be able to help them perform better academically, but the time you spend with them could support them on a personal level as well.

This will help more generally with your teaching skills but it will also teach you to communicate with people on a one-to-one basis and give you experiance working alongside children who may require extra guidance.

5. Student-tutoring programmes

One of the other ways to get teaching experience through your university is by getting involved in student-tutoring programmes. This is where you tutor other students or go into schools to help teachers with classroom learning and activities. 

Again, this kind of opportunity is something you should be looking for when applying for your university degree, as some institutions will have better programmes than others.

You can always speak to your university’s career service or student union for more information about how to enrol on a tutoring programme.

6. Attend industry events

Industry events are a great way of gaining teaching experience outside of the classroom, whether you’re attending networking events, webinars, seminars or lectures. 

Hearing from and speaking to industry professionals is a great way of learning more about the profession and presents you with the opportunity to ask them questions and seek advice.

You may find that through events you’re also able to build strong working relationships with like-minded professionals, which could be invaluable throughout your career. Attending industry events in your own time also shows how passionate and committed you are to becoming a teacher.

8. Speak to friends and family working in education

Like with any work experience, teaching can often be about who you know, rather than what you know. Take a moment to think about your network of family and friends and whether any of them work in education. 

Hopefully, you will know someone that will be able to help you organise a work placement or perhaps just offer you career advice. This might just help you get your foot in the door.

What are the benefits of gaining teaching experience?

Now you’re more familiar with some ways you can get teaching experience, but what are the benefits of doing so? By gaining teaching experience, you will be able to:

  • Gain a first-hand insight into the world of teaching and a classroom environment
  • Develop core teaching skills
  • Improve your communication skills and confidence as a teacher
  • Find full-time work more easily by improving your employability
  • Tailor your experience to help you land your dream job
  • Learn from other teaching professionals and seek guidance
  • Build strong relationships with both teachers and pupils
  • Gain a clearer understanding of who and what you want to teach
  • Develop a passion for a career in teaching and a desire to help others.

Top tips for your teaching work experience

Congratulations, you’ve landed an opportunity to gain some teaching experience and are now ready to get started. But how can you ensure that you get the most out of your experience? Here are some top tips to help you on your way.

  1. Keep a diary throughout your work experience. Document what you’ve learnt and the key skills you’ve gained. Also, include any negatives and areas of improvement.
  2. Always behave professionally. How you behave could have a big impact on whether you get a job in the future. Especially if you approach the same school for work at a later date.
  3. Ask for advice. Speak to teachers and other members of staff about working in education. See if they have any tips and guidance about starting your career and how to be successful as a teacher.
  4. Listen and observe. Pay close attention to different teaching styles and how teachers tailor their approach depending on the classroom environment and pupils.
  5. Offer to help. Always think of ways you can be of value and help assist teaching professionals in their roles.
  6. Keep an eye out for additional opportunities. Whether it’s after-school activities or mentoring programmes, always make sure you’re aware of other opportunities that can help to elevate your work experience and look good on your CV.

Explore online teaching courses on FutureLearn

Hopefully, you’re now one step closer on your journey to becoming a teacher, and feeling inspired by all of the ways you could get teaching experience. 

While getting your first teaching job is by no means easy, gaining teaching experience alongside your qualification is essential if you want to be successful and stand out among a competitive field of applicants.

To explore a wide range of teaching courses that cover everything from climate education to gender equality and inclusivity in the classroom, check out our blog post about back-to-school courses.

More teaching courses

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