A little bit about me...
I joined Puddle Ducks after being a Secondary Dance and Drama Teacher for 6 years. I loved my previous job, but due to having to relocate and following the birth of my first child I was looking for a job which offered me a better work-life balance. Due to my training and lifelong aspiration to teach, I knew I wanted something active where I could continue to work with children and make a difference outside of the classroom. I also wanted to find a role where development and career aspirations could be fulfilled, at this point I turned to Puddle Ducks.
Becoming a Puddle Ducks Baby & Pre-School Teacher 💦
I’d previously attended Aquanatal classes and a term of Floaties classes with my daughter and I remembered thinking at the time what a lovely and rewarding job it must be. I began searching for vacancies and I soon found a teaching job advertised online. The role itself was advertising for a Swim Academy and Baby & Pre-school teacher which meant I would be able to teach ALL the programmes offered and develop my knowledge in what was a complete specialism change. Soon after my interview, I completed my first swimming qualifications including the STA Level 2 Award, Safety Award for Teachers and Baby & Pre-school courses. Following this, I then completed all the courses for Swim Academy and Puddle Ducks Baby and Pre-School. At this point, I was still working in Manchester which meant I needed to travel down to Worcester to teach and shadow lessons on weekends. It was very demanding at the time, but it was the best preparation for my final assessment which would take place once I relocated in October 2017.
It takes real effort and determination to become a Puddle Ducks teacher as it requires spending 300 hours training; 50 hours in a classroom and the rest in the pool. There are also 16 hours of CPD (continuing professional development) to be completed annually as well as CPR training, Compulsory Health and Safety training and in-house assessments by Puddle Ducks Senior Teachers. All of the training given is supported by experts in child psychology, child development and midwifery and it is fully accredited by the STA (Swim Teachers’ Association), the world’s largest independent swimming teaching and lifesaving organisation.
Preparing for the final assessments is an intensive process especially with having to complete them shortly after moving which made it more difficult for myself. I passed just 2 of the 5 Baby and Pre-school modules. Whilst I was disappointed, my senior teacher Rachel was extremely supportive and encouraging which gave me the confidence and determination to not give up. The next day I was back in the pool, co-teaching and preparing for re-assessment. In the December, I passed the remaining 3 programmes which was the best Christmas present I could ask for following 5 months of training, upheaval and changes.
Throughout the entire training process, I had a HUGE amount of support from the office staff, poolside assistants and knowledgeable teachers. I was also fortunate enough to take my training alongside Becky so it was lovely to have someone in the same position to speak to. In and out of the pool, I had lots of encouragement from Rachel and Hollie, who were inspiring to watch and gave me tons of important feedback to highlight my strengths but also aspects to develop. I was also supported by Emma, who I taught alongside for Swim Academy lessons. To this day, I continuously try to observe other teachers where possible so I can develop my own practice and knowledge.
Where am I now? 💦
Almost 2 years later and I am now also qualified to teach Aquanatal lessons; an aspiration I’d had since first joining Puddle Ducks way back in 2017. I am also a Senior Teacher for Baby and Pre School and Swim Academy within Puddle Ducks Worcestershire. This is an exciting role as it means I get to support all teachers within our team with their professional development, through formal observations, which maintain standards across the franchise, as well as mentoring and leading CPD sessions and more. Becoming a senior teacher was really exciting for me as it linked back to my previous career in school training and it meant I could transfer and utilize my knowledge and experience in this area. Career development was a big factor in my choice to train as a Puddle Ducks teacher – I’m in this for the long haul!
If you would like to find out more about Zara's Puddle Ducks Journey then read her 'A Week in the life of me' here.