I am currently studying at the University of Liverpool where I am starting my third year of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography. My time in Academia helped me achieve my dream of studying in a “red brick” university.

After my final year I plan on moving to the University of Bristol to complete post-graduate study in teaching which is why I decided to contact Academia regarding a short internship whilst back home in Basel. Not only did I approach Academia to gain actual classroom experience before my final year but also because I knew the environment there would be accepting and that my learning goals would be supported.

My school years at Academia were enjoyable and contented

I am a former Academia student and was a part of the student body between 2016 and 2018, these being two of my most enjoyable and contented school years. While attending Academia International School I achieved A and AS Level qualifications in Biology, German, History and English Language as well as IGCSEs in English, English Literature, French, Geography and Mathematics. Not only did my success in these qualifications enhance my opportunities for further studies, they also deepened my interest and knowledge in certain subjects I hadn’t previously considered as potential career paths. My time at Academia proved to be very positive in terms of education and I have many memories of it being a welcoming and open environment where students and teachers alike formed warm-hearted connections. My fondest memories at Academia are of “SSL”, which are periods set aside for free study where I always remember a family-like environment in which students would help each other with any work or difficulties through mutual understanding and support.

My experiences of being a teacher for the first time

During my three-week internship in June 2021, I gathered many useful and transferrable skills. Due to it being the end of term not many ‘normal’ lessons took place. However, I gained experience in delivering versatile and imaginative lessons. In the first week I supervised the first year Geography students take their end of term ‘mini mocks’ as well as taking the second years alongside Nicole, the geography teacher at Academia, on a field trip around Basel. We explored the River Rhein and its geographical features including a visit to a large dam, proving that visual learning is an important part of the classroom experience. Nicole and I also created our own geography scavenger hunt which involved the students reading maps and following cryptic clues and directions. Creating this class exercise really helped broaden my sense of what being a teacher means and how the job comes with so much freedom to explore creativity in learning. In the second half of the short internship, I also developed ideas for class activities relating to the theme of population. For example, we watched a video together and then I gave the students quiz sheets which I had prepared. We also played some games such as matching population sizes to corresponding countries and definitions to geographical terms. These proved that learning can be effective in a fun and more relaxed environment, employing a more interactive approach as an alternative to traditional classroom methods. I also really enjoyed just observing how lessons took place and the student–teacher dynamics. This experience only further enhanced my desire to become a teacher in the future, seeing how every day was different and rewarding in its own unique way.

My wish for the future: to become a Geography teacher

Having secured a place on the ‘Teaching Geography’ module at my university I now plan to do a post-graduate year at the University of Bristol completing the PGCE with QTS. After this I aim to become a geography teacher at a state school in England. However, for the immediate future I hope to be able to do another short internship at Academia as it has really provided me with a new perspective on teaching and opened my eyes to just how diverse the job really can be. The smaller classes at Academia really helped with the initial nerves around teaching a class, as you got to know each student very quickly and felt a part of the school environment right away.

My advise for the students: enjoy every subject and don’t be too stressed

For students, embarking on their A Level and subsequent degree-level journey, I would advise enjoying every subject and understanding that the subject is always much broader than the content covered in school. Explore all potential careers related to each subject and you will discover options you never thought about whilst sitting in the class studying. Don’t be too stressed about the subjects you end up choosing because what I have come to learn with geography is that the options are endless. Finally, if you are planning on studying at a university, researching all aspects of campus life is very important as it will be your home for the next three to five years!


Rachel Howden

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