from journalist to Now Teach trainee
Study path with Now Teach: Secondary school, Science
Previous career: Journalist specialising in International Affairs
Training period: July 2017 – July 2019
Where: Ark Academy, Wembley
I was a journalist for 23 years and worked on a newspaper in Japan as well as for Fox News for many years. I spent lots of time in the Middle East and Russia. Although it has been a wonderful career, it’s very simple for me; over a number of years I came to the conclusion I wasn’t contributing to solving the socio-economic problems that I was writing about and it became very clear to me that I wanted to do something hands-on, at a local level. The classes I’m now teaching are the perfect solution to that – I feel like I’m making an important difference in those children’s lives.
Now Teach has placed us with schools that focus on inner city areas, usually schools that have a pretty intense approach to the pastoral side of things and many of us have benefited from this encouragement to get in contact with the families.
Our school encourages us to phone the parents at every opportunity for good reasons as well as negative reasons and every conversation I have with a parent, I find results in better understanding about the child’s background and helps you to work with the child more strongly in class.
Everyone on the Now Teach programme has a lot of confidence because they have had a measure of professional success. You can’t always bring that into the classroom on a daily basis because you’re trying to master the subject you’re teaching but the school will benefit from your prior experience and the school will use it.
I left my job in September 2017 and dived straight into teacher training. It was quite a shock! One of my last duties in my previous career was based in Japan, I was covering President Obama on his trips around Australasia and I travelled with him on many occasions.
If you go into teaching with a prior career, you have so much more to offer the school and to offer the pupils. Many of the children at my school know that I travelled with Obama and they ask me about it and I can tell them little bits. The school uses me to take part in the Citizenship Programme and in April I took some children to a meeting with counsellors in the Borough of Brent and the council has agreed to a couple of the demands the children had. It was a great feeling to bring these children face-to-face with those in power and I think the school recognises that I have bit of experience and can supervise something like that.
I’ve found it difficult to find a balance between being strict in the classroom and showing a liberal attitude towards children being children. Occasionally, I have been too lenient with them and as a result they have been disruptive and whilst they still make me laugh I’m going to have to be tougher.
I have immersed myself in the life of this school and it’s hugely rewarding. The staff are terrific, there’s always an ear and a good piece of advice when you need it but it’s also very satisfying when you’re playing a full role in an important community in a poorer part of London.
It has been everything I wanted it to be, and the sense of satisfaction is more than I expected. I have no regrets at all.