Cohort: September 2018
Where: Ark John Keats Academy
It was always at the back of my mind to get into teaching. I originally wanted to be an academic, but I landed in technology roles in banking when I moved down to London after university. Many years later I got a bit fed up of what I was doing – I was working for the holidays and the weekends. I didn’t feel the job was giving me anything else. I’d looked into teaching but funding the training looked to be too expensive.
However, earlier this year, the stars aligned. I managed to get a good redundancy package from my job, and then came across Now Teach. It looked perfect, and I decided to do it after two meetings with the recruitment team. In a way, it was a bit rushed because I didn’t have much time to prepare for the summer school and the knowledge refresher course, but everyone bent over backwards to make it happen for me.
"It’s good for your soul and sanity – to do something new."
Mastering your teacher persona
My experience so far as a trainee teacher has been really positive. I think I’ve been really lucky with the school I’ve got. They’re really tight on discipline so you have hardly any misbehaved kids, which really helps. I’ve still got to learn how to instil behaviour myself, but I’ve got the tools there to fall back on. Plus, I’ve got really good coaching support and all my peers are very supportive. It’s a good gradual introduction to things, but at the same time, you have to just realise it’s going to be challenging and you need to get it done. You shouldn’t be spoon-fed all the time. The best thing to do is just to get on with it.
Working in a school is a big adjustment, although I’ve not found it hard. You have to learn lots of new skills, such as how to flip your body language into displeasure if things aren’t going right. I’ve mastered my frown and it seems to be quite powerful already – especially with Year 7s! There’s a lot more thought put into your communication as a teacher, rather than just using your ‘nice business face’. That’s what’s most different, you’re not dealing with people that are rational all the time.
"I’ve mastered my frown and it seems to be quite powerful already!"
Getting great feedback
On open evening recently, I was manning a plastic human body which you could take apart – I was showing visitors what all the bits looked like. One of the girls from my Year 7 class came over with her mum, who said, “She used to hate Science, but since you’ve been teaching, it’s her favourite subject.” That was a brilliant thing to hear.
I chose Biology because that was my degree, although at the moment I’m teaching all the sciences because it’s Years 7 and 8, although I’m being slowly introduced to a Year 11 class. Initially I thought I’d like to do sixth form, but I’m really enjoying the pastoral side of things, so I’d like to continue with the kids up to Year 11. The knowledge refresher was really good as a learning tool, it was long but useful in getting facts back into your head. And things like the school’s documentation and shared lesson plans are really useful processes.
Doing something new from scratch
At the moment I don’t feel I’m bringing much with me from my previous roles as I’ve got so much to learn. But in the longer term I feel I could contribute from the management side. Things are already getting easier – I’ve noticed that things like lesson planning that was taking me ages at the beginning of the process, is already a lot quicker than it was.
My advice to anyone considering the move into teaching would be that change is a great thing. It’s really reinvigorating and can be good for your soul and your sanity to do something new from scratch. But you’ve got to be aware that it’s really hard work. It’s not an easy cop-out to leave the world of business – you’ve got to feel that you’d be a good teacher. I always had that itch and still don’t know whether I’m right, but it’s been a really positive experience so far.