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Funda Hassan

Funda Hassan, BA Theatre Arts, PGCE Drama, MA Drama Education

Alumni Profile: Funda HassanDrama Teacher, Rushcroft Sports College

BA Theatre Arts, PGCE Drama, MA Drama Education, 2013

What made you choose Middlesex University for your Masters degree?

The thing that kept me at Middlesex was my PGCE tutor. I did the PGCE straight after completing my undergraduate course and the Masters degree had the same tutor as my PGCE. He was very supportive so I decided to come back to do my Masters as part of my continued professional development. The course is accredited by Middlesex but it is based at the Trestle Theatre Company in St Albans so there is a lot of hands-on experience. The workshops are on weekends spread throughout the year so I am still working full time.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

Even when you have a full time job and everything else you shouldn't just stop learning. When you go to interviews they ask 'what are you still doing?' and I said that I was going to do a masters and that helped me get the job I have now. It is important that you keep on learning new things, and what I am learning now I can pass on to my students

What aspects of your course do you enjoy most?

I enjoy the practical sessions the most because they are run by actors and directors at the theatre. Everybody on the course is a drama or a dance teacher so it is nice seeing people from the same field and getting to share lesson plans and ideas. Some of the people on the course are examiners too so that is good experience, but the course itself is fantastic.

It is in a physical theatre with no lecture rooms so it is all very active. You are aching the next day but it is so much fun and you can then take it into the classroom and show it to your students. As a drama teacher it is rare that you get to work with professionals, you'd usually just work with teachers rather than actors, directors or producers.

What are the facilities like at your institution?

Because the course is held in a professional theatre everything is there for you; there is professional lighting, a stage and so on. They make their own masks in a workshop too and we have the chance to have fun with them in the workshops and learn how to teach our kids about them. It is a real theatre so it is the real deal.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

I would say 'go for it'. The staff are really friendly and supportive, the facilities are really good and high tech and you have everything there to prepare you for what you want to do in your work life afterwards.

How have your courses and time at Middlesex helped you get to where you are professionally today?

I always wanted to be a drama teacher so in order to do that I had to do a drama degree and then a teaching qualification, so that is what I did. I then combined the two for a Masters, and each was a stepping stone to where I wanted to end up.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

My drama teacher at school had such enthusiasm for the subject; he made it so accessible for everyone and made it really fun. He loved his job and that made me think I would too. I was always interested in drama and that kind of thing so it made sense to become a drama teacher.

The pros are that you get to work with teenagers and young adults and it is very rewarding, especially when they are challenging. The fact that you get to make a difference to young people's lives is very rewarding and your job doesn't really feel like a job, it feels more like a hobby. Because of the nature of the subject there is always something to laugh about and there is never a day when I go into work and don't laugh. It's also nice knowing that you are the stepping stone for your students to help them get to their career. The holidays are a pro too.

The cons are the workload. Although we get a lot of holidays we do have to work through them a lot.

How did you get your first foot on the career ladder?

After my PGCE I kept going to interviews and after a few I found a school that I felt really comfortable in. I just knew that it really suited me and my teaching style so I accepted it and I have been there ever since.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

One student I was teaching last year had absolutely no confidence. She was so shy and never said anything so each lesson I would try and build in a few little words for her to say out loud to try and get her involved and build her confidence. Then one day she just pulled back the curtain and gave a massive performance. The other kids gave her a standing ovation and at that moment my eyes welled up. I was actually being observed in that lesson and the head of year told me afterwards that she thought the girl had only developed that amount of confidence because of my lessons.

What are the top three tips you would give to current students and recent graduates who are looking for a similar career to yourself?

'Go for it'. It is the most challenging but rewarding career you will ever have.
You need to have experience and do a PGCE.
You need to have passion for the subject and be super enthusiastic.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

I would tell myself to do a degree with two subjects rather than just one. I would have liked to do drama and dance so I could teach both, so I would tell myself to do something in addition to drama and get involved in more extra-curricular activities.

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