Case Study: Design and Technology Teacher - Paul

What do you do?

I teach design to lower and upper schools, which includes graphics, 3D design and CAD (computer-aided design).

It's different from what other people do in this job because I'm also an ICT teacher. So I'm involved more with the computer-aided design than with the straight graphics that other teachers may do.

What is your background?

My background is actually mining! I worked 13 years in the mining industry. And as the mining industry closed down I sought other careers.

And for the last few years, I've become very interested in training. I was in the Territorial Army and it seemed a very good opportunity to use that branch of interest to go into teaching, and use my engineering background to go into technology.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

On the technology side, you're very much problem-solving. There's not a right or wrong answer in design. So you need to be able to think, and not be bound down by thinking, that there's a right or wrong answer.

And, you need to be able to branch out of the norm and look at other ways of doing things.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

There are lots of jobs that you can go into that involve skills such as problem-solving, designing, researching and evaluating. You can enter management areas and hands-on jobs.

What changes will there be in the future?

I think the main change is going to be along the line of the use of technology. Over the last few years, I've noticed a vast advancement in computer-aided design, machining and manufacturing.

And schools are relating to industries more and more - there's a closer link between industries and the subject. It's no longer teaching just old woodwork, metalwork and plastics. You've actually got to go along with how industries are acting so that you're teaching real-life situations.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

I think the biggest challenge is in major projects. Every student ends up, by the very fact of what the subject's like, with a totally different project from each other. And you need to keep it all together. You need to use time management and resource management (making sure you've got all the materials).

The fact that we try to get students to branch out and try something new means you've got a good chance in a class of 24 people to have 24 different outcomes. The positive side of getting 24 different outcomes is that everyone's trying something new and everyone's developing. You can actually see students grow and reach out of themselves.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

I think there are a lot of opportunities to enter this job, but you need to have the right background and be the right sort of person. You've got to be a practically-minded person and someone that doesn't limit themselves.

And you've got to be able to do the normal activities involved in teaching - you've got to be able to work with the students, you've got to be able to work on your own and you've got to work in a team.

What do you like about your job?

I like it because it's real-life problems with real-life solutions. It's not so clean cut as, say, mathematics. With maths, you work towards the right answer, whereas in design and technology, it's not like that. The answer doesn't have to be the right one because there isn't a right one, it's the best one.

As people move through the years from Year 7 upwards, obviously we start off with basic problems. But, most of the lessons are actually real situations.

What do you dislike about your job?

I wouldn't say I actually dislike any part of my job. But, the main problem with it is that it's very resource-based, so you need a lot of materials. Sometimes, you're limited by the actual resources and materials you have. So that is sometimes a frustration.

What are your ambitions?

I think my ambitions within the current job have been fulfilled. I'm quite happy at present. I've been looking at moving up in the departments and I've now reached a senior position, which I'm very happy with.

Ambitions outside of my current job are mainly to do with youth organisations. And I think they're related. What I learn outside, I can use inside. The skills I learn here in school, I can use outside. You can't divide, sometimes, social and work life.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

I think the best piece of advice I could give is to make sure you have enthusiasm for the subject. I think if you have enthusiasm, you'll have the skills.

You've also got to have the academic background. It's not much use wanting to come into this job not having done a practical subject and then want to come into teaching. You've also got to be very good with maths and English.

And, you need to have an enquiring mind and managerial skills to be able to manage the resources and the classroom.

A day in the life

8:45 am - 9:15 am

Greeting my form group and taking the register.

9:15 am - 11:00 am

Teaching graphics to a Year 7 class.

11:00 am - 11:15 am

Break.

11:15 am - 12:25 pm

Dealing with administration.

12:25 pm - 1:30 pm

Lunch.

1:30 pm - 1:35 pm

Taking the register.

1:35 pm - 2:40 pm

Teaching a Year 10 GCSE class.

2:40 pm - 2:50 pm

Break.

2:50 pm - 3:55 pm

Teaching a Year 9 class.

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