Rafcely Flores-Adrian gained nearly 20 years’ experience as a Mechanical Engineer before becoming a Physics teacher at the UTC – she uses her experience within the industry to help shape her lessons.
Why did you decide to start teaching at the UTC?
I always knew that I wanted to teach at a STEM-led college, as I had the opportunity to study in a similar college when I was a teenager doing A-levels and BTEC in Engineering.
When a teaching position for Physics became available, I did not hesitate to apply!
Did you have any industry experience prior to joining the UTC? If so, how does it help in your teaching role?
I have nearly 20 years’ experience as a Mechanical Engineer. I have worked in various industries such as industrial safety, engineering recruitment, steel production, asset management and telecoms.
My varied experience plays a pivotal part in my teaching today, it influences my thinking, my lesson planning and what I teach. As a result, I see the curriculum from a different perspective which informs my lessons to make them more accessible to my students.
What is it that interests you about your subject/area?
Physics gives you an insight into the fundamental way the world works. Science helps you to understand the world around you. Science is ingenious, interesting, and awe-inspiring. When I watch documentaries about our world, I still learn so much – Science really is extraordinary!
How did you get into teaching?
My mother is a Professor in Organic Chemistry and I always knew from watching her teach that I wanted to do the same one day. The day came a few years ago, when I felt the time was right for me to finally make the move into education.
What have you noticed since working at the UTC?
UTC Leeds is a place where you can truly learn – it gives you the chance to be hands-on and understand what is it that you’re doing and the reasons behind it. It is purposeful, focused, and unusual because it teaches pupils new skills that they would not learn anywhere else, especially during secondary school.
What are your ambitions for your department/subject?
I currently carry out research on different ways of assigning tasks and delivering lessons in order to understand the impact it has on pupils’ learning and their outcomes. I have done research since I started teaching as I believe this supports and improves my lessons. I would therefore like to get my colleagues involved in my research with the aim to implement it across the Science department in the future.
What kind of projects do the students work on in your subject?
A couple of my students have been working on building their own rockets, which is a great example of working ‘in collaboration’, bringing Physics and Engineering together. Their rockets are amazing!
What has been your highlight of working at the UTC?
One of many highlights I have had at the UTC has been our Open Days – what an astounding experience they are! Our college community comes together to showcase what we’re all about. Students are given the opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned at the UTC and they do not disappoint – they are exceptional! You can see how proud they are of their achievements and being part of our college.
What do you think are the strengths of a UTC?
From experience, and after having access to a lot of schools in Yorkshire, I can genuinely say that UTC Leeds has state of the art facilities. It also provides academic excellence by implementing an industry-focused curriculum and by engaging locally with the University of Leeds. It has remarkable and supportive teachers and staff that do their utmost every day to support their pupils during their time here.
Why should students come to the UTC?
Studying at UTC Leeds develops students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Pupils still follow the National curriculum and will still get GCSEs and/or A-Levels, but in addition, they will also gain valuable know-how. Students will be versatile, which is a desirable skill to have and opens a wide range of future careers and employers’ doors.