From local authorities to Now Teach trainee
Cohort: September 2018
Where: The Bridge Academy
It was turning 50 that made me reconsider my career. My children had grown up, and I’d been working in local authorities running cultural and regeneration projects for many years. I couldn’t see myself doing it for another 20 years – I needed a fresh challenge. At that time, there were lots of adverts around for teacher training so it started an internal niggle. I went to government roadshows and originally thought I might need to go back to uni and do a PGCE when a friend spotted Now Teach featured in a Metro article. I’d just finished a big contract so the timing felt really good.
Initially I really lacked confidence in believing I could actually be a teacher, so the support from Now Teach during the application process was fantastic. It hooked me in. There was a gradual sifting and sorting through the recruitment process and when someone said, “We think you can teach,” it was brilliant and gave me the confidence to go on.
When I started in my school, I was surprised by how much of a culture shock it was.
Dealing with the culture shock
When I started in my school, I was surprised by how much of a culture shock it was. That was a really unexpected surprise for me. I’d been a bit blasé about it because I’d worked in so many different places, so thought I’d be used to a new environment, but ultimately I’d been a freelancer and managed my own time. At a school it’s not like that, you have to be bang on time for everything – there’s no flexibility whatsoever. I’ve had to buy a watch! And there are a lot of rules in school, which I didn’t really think about – especially as I have to uphold the rules, which is difficult for me. As a parent of teenagers I think I have a tendency to mother the students rather than discipline them. So I’ve got to learn how to be strict and find my own teaching style that blends with my personality and feels like me.
Learning how to be a teacher
It’s very early days with teaching, as I’ve only taught a handful of classes so far, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve got a Year 8 class and they’re being very kind and obedient with me. I’m perfectly happy to stand up in a class and am quite calm about doing so – but it’s far more complicated than it looks! You’ve got 30 people looking at you and you need to judge who understands it, who hasn’t, who needs discipline, extra help and assess everything that’s going on. Good teachers make it look easy.
‘I’ve got a great mentor and tutor who give me a lot of their time and support. My tutor says I’m on track but I’m a perfectionist and that’s going to be a problem – I have to learn how to be good enough. So I think things like that will come with practice.
One of the best things about Now Teach is the proof you don’t need to be written off at fifty.
Rediscovering love of a subject
Another thing that’s been brilliant is rediscovering Maths. I did it at A-level, but not as a degree – and after that I went into the creative industries, so the total opposite. I wanted to teach Maths because it’s a really important subject and having the opportunity to go back to something I dropped 30 years ago, I feel very lucky. To anyone considering teaching, I’d say don’t be put off by certain subjects just because you didn’t do a degree in that subject. If there’s something you particularly want to teach, find out how you can go about it. And I completely recommend Now Teach – you get so much support from the very first step. It’s very simple, so even if you’re only vaguely thinking about it it’s worth getting in touch with them.
One of the best things about Now Teach is the proof you don’t need to be written off at fifty. It’s been a really positive thing to show my friends that you still can go off and do something new. After all, we’ve still got many years of working life to go.