In the North West of England there is a metropolitan borough called the Wirral, a place where Mia Blackmore has lived since the age of two. When 17-year-old Mia finished secondary school in May 2019, she was ready to turn her passion for teaching into a career shaping little minds. So, she enrolled on our Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching & Learning during the summer, ready for the new school year to start.
Last month, Mia posted a picture on Instagram to celebrate passing her course, featuring her certificate and ‘congrats’ balloons in the background. She captioned it: “18.04.2020… I’m on cloud 9☁️ I did it… I’m a primary Teaching Assistant… 8 months of hard work and dedication, I’ve learnt so much, grown so much and realised that teaching has my heart more than ever. 💗”
This is the story of her learning journey, overcoming personal challenges and following her passion and dreams no matter what obstacles stood in her way.
In the Wirral, Mia has a strong support network. She said, “I love the area I live in, especially being so near my grandparents. I’m just grateful for the family and friends I have around me.” And yet, school wasn’t easy for Mia. She explained, “I had a very turbulent high school experience due to setbacks in my childhood, this had an impact on my overall mental health and school was a very anxious time. I was meant to go to college after high school, but just a few weeks before starting I felt overwhelmed by the thought of it all...
After talking with my family and seeking professional advice, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the demand and pressure that college life brings. I thought it would just put a strain on my mental health difficulties when I was already making progress. I was sad thinking that my dream future didn’t look so bright anymore, but mostly, I just felt relieved that I wouldn’t have to go to college at that time.”
The Perfect Plan
It’s a brave thing to listen to your intuition and do what’s best for you. Even if that means straying from the traditional path. By recognising what would help and what wouldn’t, Mia had already taken a big step towards her goals. She just didn’t know it yet…
“I had to find a different way to get qualified and not let my problems hold me back. I needed to be more confident too, so I could reach my dream career. When I came across Oxbridge, I knew it was the perfect way to get to where I wanted to be whilst I worked on the things that triggered me about college life. But it was important that Oxbridge understood my needs and could fully support me.
Luckily, I felt reassured after speaking with a lovely course adviser and I grew confident about the support I would get. When my course folder arrived in the post, I was so excited to get started, yet still so nervous, wondering if I would really be capable of completing it. Looking back, I know that’s a natural feeling, and it soon passed once I got stuck into my work. I still can’t believe how far I’ve come since that day.”
The Learning Journey
The great thing about home learning is that you can fit your studying and assignments around your personal commitments. To complete her course and become a qualified Teaching Assistant, Mia was also required to do practical work to demonstrate her knowledge on the job. For Mia, studying around her placement hours helped her hone her skills and boost her confidence profoundly...
“My daily routine was perfect because I could complete my qualification around my placement and personal life. For example, if I wanted to spend time with friends at the weekend, I made sure I completed an assignment before doing so. And during the week, I worked as a Teaching Assistant at my local primary school. Studying around my placement gave me a good structure to base my timetable and work ethic on.”
Mia benefited from the freedom to set her own targets; “Oxbridge made the whole process of studying much more relaxing, mainly because I didn’t feel any pressure to meet deadlines. I feel like my Oxbridge experience was totally tailored to my requirements, so when I completed work, it was on my terms and felt like my own achievement. What helped me is just being in my own home. It’s important to find a separate place to study though, somewhere where you can chill out, focus and feel driven to work free from distraction.”
Mia knew she was developing the knowledge and skills to do what she loves most, so every topic was insight she relished. Mia reflects, “My favourite part of my course was learning about the strategies and techniques used to support children with different learning abilities. Based on the help I’ve received, adapting my teaching to student’s needs is something I feel passionate about because I know it can make all the difference.
I also found it interesting to look back over my own development within my teaching role throughout my placement. Monitoring my progress, whether it’s based on communication, responsiveness or teaching methods, I can see how far I’ve come.”
Becoming a Teaching Assistant
There is nothing more rewarding than experiencing the results of your hard work. For Mia, this feeling came during her placement. The children in her class reminded her that she was on the right path and had made the right decision to study with Oxbridge and pursue a teaching career.
Mia added, “I loved working with my year two class and had so many moments where my heart just melted! It made me realise that teaching has my whole heart. On one occasion, a six-year-old left a note on my desk which said, ‘be happy, never change, always be yourself.’ It was adorable. There was also another time when a child pulled me aside and whispered, ‘thank you for helping me learn, you’ll make a lovely teacher one day.’
Those are moments I will always cherish. I’ve learnt to believe in myself and believe in my own ability despite my early doubts, now that I know how rewarding teaching is! I’ve grown so much as a person, and still, this is just the beginning! I know that I can and will make a difference to children’s lives.”
Believing in Herself
It’s no small thing! It’s so easy to give up when something doesn’t quite work or go to plan. But Mia was determined to find a way to reach her goals; she never let the fear of failing keep her from giving it a go. Looking back, Mia said, “Enrolling with Oxbridge was always going to be a huge step for me. Yes, I still experienced setbacks through my course due to my mental health, it didn’t just go away… There were days I felt like I’d never qualify, but in those moments, I turned to my tutor, my family and friends. They gave me such amazing encouragement and support to carry on and then it just got easier.”
“For me personally, it was always my lack of confidence and self-belief that was holding me back. I knew it was something I needed to overcome, not just to finish my course but to be successful in the job role afterwards. In the past year, I’ve really focused on my strengths. I know my main strength is my ability to make a difference to children’s learning. I’ve also become better at being part of a team and others have described me as determined, driven, and made for this career. Now, I can honestly say I believe I am on the right path, I believe I am good at what I do and I believe in myself. I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to.”
The Future is Bright
“Now that I’ve qualified, I’ve promised myself I will NEVER doubt my abilities again! I’ve learnt that with the right support and people around you, anything is possible. I hope to work as a Teaching Assistant part–time from September. Also, I’ve recently been accepted for a place at the Open University to start my BA Honours Primary Education degree!
So that means I’ll be gaining more experience on the job whilst achieving a higher-level qualification to teach unsupervised. For now, I’m just proud of my journey so far and excited for where my career will take me next.”
We hope Mia’s story has inspired you. Her advice for those of you that struggle with self-doubt, is to remember, “anything is possible and although taking the first step is daunting, it’s so exciting once you get started. Just go for it, it will all be worth it in the end.”
To find out more about our teaching courses and how we support students, please speak to us on live chat. We’re here to help.