I consider my time with Aberdeen LTS to be a journey: I have progressed both personally and professionally since I joined some 6 years ago. Like most teachers, I started off as a teaching assistant, and I have gone on to complete my Level 1 and Level 2 teaching qualifications. Unlike most teachers I am not a competitive swimmer myself; however, I have a passion to share knowledge and aid the learning of those around me, and this is true for every swimmer I teach, along with my assistants and fellow swimming teachers.
I have been a part of, and indeed have helped to shape, the culture at Aberdeen LTS over the years. Our culture is one of inclusion and constant progression. An example of this is the approach we take to our swimmers, who we challenge each week with tailor made lessons. This enables us to focus specifically on what they require from a skills perspective and equally to inspire and shape them into young and enthused athletes.
Over the years I have taught hundreds of swimmers, and I am delighted to see so many of them develop from the learn to swim programme and into our club. We deliver this by promoting teaching based on the Scottish Swimming Framework which has led to us achieving the Swimark Plus accreditation, the highest available.
More recently, I have had the privilege to mentor assistants as they begin the process of gaining their teaching qualifications. Teaching is not always easy, and it requires a lot of skill, passion and patience. The same can be said for learning, and I often tell my swimmers that swimming a stroke can be like a jigsaw puzzle where each of the individual aspects must be mastered and put together in the right order to form an efficient stroke. It’s very rewarding it is to see a swimmer who, masters a stroke and starts to swim with finesse, despite challenges along the way. This also applies when I see my assistants teaching: it’s a sense of pride and shared achievement.
My journey with Aberdeen LTS is far from over and I intend to maintain this throughout my time at university since the hours are flexible and the rate of pay is competitive. I will be taking some time out later this year to study in Canada, and I have already negotiated my return - our management team is very accommodating, where possible, for any situation. I can’t thank those who have been part of my journey to date enough.
I began my journey with Aberdeen Amateur Swim Club as a competitive swimmer and joined the fitness squad when I stopped competing. I felt that I could use my knowledge of swimming to help others so I began working as an assistant in LTS lessons 4 years ago. Each session is different and it is a very rewarding experience watching the swimmers grow in confidence each week. In 2017 I decided to take the next step and train to become a teacher through the club and this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
During my work as an assistant and a teacher, I have experienced all levels of LTS. Most of my time has been spent teaching at the beginner level, and for many of the children I teach, this is their first experience in a swimming environment. I feel that one of the strong points of Aberdeen LTS is that lessons are taught in an encouraging, fun and interactive setting.
Each week I try to plan different and exciting lessons for my swimmers, teaching them new skills through games. My aim is to ensure that they enjoy the lessons and look forward to learning more. In the beginner level classes, the teacher is supported by two assistants whereas higher level classes have a teacher with one assistant. In LTS, we recognise each child has different strengths and weaknesses so specific and constructive feedback is given to each swimmer to ensure that our activities are targeted. I feel that having the assistants in the water is very beneficial to the progress of the swimmer since they are able to provide demonstrations and additional support. This allows swimmers to try new skills in a safe and supportive environment.
In my opinion, teaching at Aberdeen LTS is extremely rewarding. I have taught many swimmers over the past few years and watching them progress over a short period of time makes me feel proud. We regularly have children enter the scheme who are initially unsure about the water and see them transform into confident and accomplished swimmers who are excited to learn and improve.