I’m responding today to the #LoveTeaching theme. How I came to be in teaching and why I love it…
Teaching wasn’t what I had imagined when I was in high school. I thought I was going to be the next Jane Goodall, or I was going to go and live with some remote Tanzanian tribe and be a journalist/anthropologist. Yes, that was what I wanted to do.
I went to University on a writing scholarship and had been asked to be a part of their volleyball squad (in those days, volleyball took up most of my spare time). Quickly, volleyball fell off the schedule as I realised that professional volleyball wasn’t where I was going to make it, so I focused on Anthropology, Sociology and Writing. Half way through my degree I moved to England. While I was finishing my degree over here, I began looking for a job. I ended up in a small headteacher’s office, explaining why I would be a good candidate to be a teaching assistant in an EBD school for boys. A week later, I began my new role.
It was this school, or rather the pupils and staff within in it, that fueled my desire to get into teaching. I worked with boys between about 7 and 14. They were tough, challenging and didn’t want to let anyone in. To be honest, not much teaching ever went on as the boys were more intent on causing as much trouble as possible, but it was when you had those ‘breakthroughs’, when interest was sparked, that still to this day make my hair stand on end. Realising that I could and was making an impact on some of these boys began my journey into teaching.
While there, after completing my undergraduate dissertation on ‘Rewards and Sanctions in an EBD School: A Case Study’, I began my PGCE.
My first teaching job was in a small school where I had to teach years 3 , 4, 5 and 6 in one classroom. Talk about differentiation! I was expected to do daily lesson plans for every subject and I was differentiating almost twelve ways in every lesson. Looking back, I’m not quite sure how I kept it up, but it was definitely what gave me a solid grounding of teaching and learning. Back then, I realised that planning ‘lessons’ wasn’t the way to go, planning the ‘learning’ based on what children did and didn’t know was how to keep progress moving for every child. From here I was accepted onto Fast Track Teaching…I knew from the beginning that I wanted to become a headteacher.
I moved through a few schools and leadership positions, completing both Leadership Pathways and the NPQH and eventually becoming a facilitator for the Middle Leadership Programme for the NCSL.
Finally, I ended up here in headship. I love teaching, but being able to promote change for an entire school is incredible. I have learnt so much along my journey, both what to do and what not to do. I’m still learning every day, but every day, no matter what obstacles are in my way, I truly enjoy every moment. Fortitude is what gets me through…that and a smile.
People always ask how I am ‘always’ smiling…the truth? I absolutely am in love with what I do.
Why will I stay in education? For those smiles that I receive every day from both the children and the staff..the moments when a child’s eyes light up when after making lots of mistakes, finally get it right…learning alongside everyone about what we can do to improve…teaching character through values like resilience, tenacity, grit, bounce-back-ability…and seeing them being used. Watching teachers try something new and getting it right…being inspired and motivated every day…My list could go on and on…
What I would say to a new teacher or someone thinking of going into teaching?
This will be the most challenging job you could choose…don’t do it if you have any doubts about it, it is hard, you will live and breathe it…but if you decide to teach, it is the best job in the world. It can be the most fulfilling and rewarding job as well…you decide. You must put in 110% every day that you are in front of the kids…you will become the best actor and refine every theatrical strategy you have ever been taught…but every child will look up to you and learn from you, you will be their main role model, therefore you must think about every move you make and every word that you use. You will be more influential than you realise. But to continue to love your job and remain passionate about teaching, it is vital that you maintain a work-life balance. This is key. If you enjoy ‘life’ away from school and ensure you give yourself time to reflect and refresh, you will be a ‘great’ teacher. Don’t let others determine what your work-life balance will look like, only you can control it. Don’t be afraid to challenge the ‘status quo’ – be brave and always put learning at the centre of everything you do. If you take care of your health and wellbeing – you will be more effective. You will make a difference to every life you touch…
#ShineOn! #BeExtraordinary! #BeALeaderNotAFollower