Deepak Swaroop, Maths, Cohort 2020, was challenged to create an inclusive extra-curricular activity for the students at his school. He set up an Artificial Intelligence (AI) club that’s now the best attended at his school.
Deepak explains how being a career-changer enabled him to impact on his school’s extra-curricular offer and how you can do the same…
I’m used to creating proposals, liaising with different teams and working to deadlines. When I was asked to set up a club for year 8 students, I prepared a proposal in a week. The experience that comes from being a career-changer means you can be extremely effective.
“Creating something inclusive”
This experience has helped me to see the bigger picture inside of my school and made me think about where I fit into it. My school’s ethos is “achievement for all” so it was important to me to make sure the AI club fit this philosophy.
It wouldn’t have been enough to create something that only appealed to top set mathematicians. I spent time thinking about how I could get the SEN students equally excited and engaged. Now, around 20% of the students who attend the club have SEN backgrounds.
We also have an equal gender balance, which is fantastic to see in a traditionally male dominated subject. I’m proud that we’ve been able to create something inclusive.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out for help”
In my previous career, I worked with people based in five different countries, so you could say I’m experienced in cross-cultural collaboration. I’ve tried to bring this into my teaching career too.
When I set up the AI club, I was keen to create something that would involve inter-department collaboration. I picked a STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) topic as I wanted to think outside of just my subject.
I spoke to three different Heads of Department before I proposed it to the headteacher and have now linked it to Crest (a government funded, Duke of Edinburgh style programme for computing). We now have a twenty-week plan for the students to complete their choice of projects.
Working with different groups has also reduced the workload for me, as I have other teachers helping to run the sessions. They bring more experience of managing classrooms and I supply overall guidance and topic ideas for sessions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s don’t be afraid to reach out to other departments if you have an idea!
I’ve asked old industry contacts to speak at sessions about AI in education, agriculture, and the health sector. I would love to see more collaboration, and know the club members are excited to have guest speakers.
Now Teachers have a lot of real-world experience that could be invaluable to educational institutes or organisations. I’d be thrilled to work with Crest for example, bringing industry expertise to their educational programme.
Advice on where to start:
Look beyond your subject to the larger purpose of the school: How can you contribute to that purpose?
Consider the vision and strategy: Where do you fit into your school’s wider plans?
Think about your unique career experience: How can you use this to benefit the school?