From senior banker to Now Teach trainee
Cohort: September 2018
Where: Oasis Academy Coulsdon
I was a senior banker for twenty years. There came a time when I started to think: ‘OK, where can I go from here?’ Not only in terms of seniority but what I was doing to grow and develop as a person. It coincided with my company and the whole industry thinking about the next generation of workers and what kind of skills would be needed in the future. We all came to the conclusion there was a good chance that the next generation of professionals would have to be a lot better in robotics and mathematics than we ever had to. So I thought, ‘Is it really useful for me to put everything I have for the rest of my professional life into clinging onto senior jobs, or siting on various boards? Who can I help with that?
Because it’s not just about me. I thought the best thing to do from now on was put all my skills into making the next generation better. Education appeared to be a great way to do that. I read about Now Teach and what they were doing and I though: ‘This is it.’ It just clicked.
Teaching is the most skilled job I’ve ever done
A vast range of skills
I’m a maths teacher in a secondary school, and it still shocks me how difficult it is. Teaching is the most skilled job I have ever come across and I have done quite a few skilled jobs in my life. The learning curve is so steep and it’s also done in front of a very inquisitive audience of thirty people who are watching your every move – and who have a great time when you make a mistake! You need to have great analytical skills but you also have to be great at presenting and showcasing and engaging an audience who might not always want to be there.
Time management is important because the workload is immense and you need to be able to liaise with the children, as well as their parents, your colleagues, the governors and the educational officials. So there are a lot of different hats to wear and skills to have: not only on the analytical side but having emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.
Every day is different – education is an amazing sector to work in.
Seeing the world through a different perspective
In terms of achieving something, teaching is probably the most interesting thing I have ever done. Every day is different. My senior colleagues at the school say you never get to the stage where you say, “OK I’ve figured it out now.” You can’t go on autopilot and that’s a good thing, because it challenges you on a daily basis in different ways. No two lessons are the same so you can’t get stuck in your ways. It also forces you to see things from the perspective of your 11-15-year-old audience. They’re still full of hope and potential. Nothing has gone wrong yet! There is still everything to go for in life. Everything is possible. And that’s what I love about them. It’s a big privilege to be able to support that and help them. I want them to hold onto that feeling for as long as they can.
Resilience is key
When I first started teaching six weeks ago, I would have said you have to be the kind of person who loves children, and who wants to support them to be the best that they can be. I still subscribe to that. But to any new colleagues, especially at my age, who have possibly joined from very senior careers, I’d say, “Make sure that you know yourself well enough to know that you’re resilient.”
You need to be able to deal with so much pressure and the feeling of not being good enough. There is so much to learn and do. It made me remember those feelings I had when I first started out as a junior banker – of not being competent. If you struggle with feeling inadequate I’d say that it’s not the job for you because you’re going to feel inadequate – all the time! But that’s also how children feel and for me it’s a great way of remembering what it felt like to be a teenager. You can grow as a person at any time in life.