Good evening everyone, (well its evening where I am now here in good old Deutschland).
Here is my first real post of a series of posts that is dear and close to my heart, which is mainly what I wanted to focus my blog about which is teaching.
One of the most common questions I get from family, friends, students and people sending me questions on my Instagram account is, “Why did you become a teacher?”. Now usually when people ask me this question, I have found in my experience that it is presented in two ways; either A) in complete wonder as if to say “Why on EARTH would you want to become a teacher?” as if anything else is better than being a teacher and B) respect and awe in what I am doing for the children.
This meme here above nicely summarizes what most people in category A see teaching as.
And this meme always makes me laugh: THIS ACCURACY THOUGH!
For me honestly teaching was an idea that I always liked but I had too many reservations in my head from what I had heard from the general public about teaching, that as a result I never really made it a career path that I planned to get into. To make things clear since I was 14 years old I wanted to be a scientist, specifically a chemical engineer or microbiologist I just loved researching and asking questions and trying to find answers to my questions with my hands and using different methods. Then as I got older my respect and interest in teaching increased but I was really worried, especially when I was doing my A levels and I had to get ready to apply for university courses, I had to have a reserve choice in case the degree course I mainly wanted wasn’t possible, and I wanted to put teaching. However as I started to do more research on the realities of doing a teaching degree and actually doing this job, my worry became fear. My teachers told me it was the most tiring and soul sucking job they had, my favorite teacher literally told me to, “save yourself, don’t do it!” And people who weren’t teachers told me things like its an easy job I would have long holidays, I would be bored and its not for me. So hearing these widely conflicting views on the same career choice, I was more interested in teaching to really see what it is all about but I still had my fears.
I was fortunate enough to have had on the whole good teachers throughout my education from nursery, primary school, secondary school, sixth form and university. I respected my teachers (mostly) and even from a young age noticed how much pressure and crap they had to deal with from students, parents and the senior leadership team (SLT). In the end I had applied for a chemistry degree and got into the university I wanted to enter. Yet as I thoroughly enjoyed my degree, I still at the back of my mind had this tugging feeling towards teaching. It wasn’t until my 2nd year into my degree that I wanted to have some solid work experience in teaching, and the good thing was my universities career adviser had known about a scheme going on for gifted university students who were studying shortage subjects such as science, maths, IT and languages. They were to be placed in an under performing inner city London school for six weeks to gain work experience and see what working in an inner city London school was like, and at the end of the scheme £600 was given, which was pretty good money which I used in turn to help pay off my student loans. It was during this work experience that I got to see for myself not as a student or a member of staff at the school, to really see what teaching was like, almost with a neutral view or an outsiders view. To be brief it was really tough, I was just here for two days a week in the school, and I was mainly helping students who did not know English and students who had hearing and vision problems in their science, English and Maths lessons. Most of the students at that school were loud, disruptive and came from difficult backgrounds, for quite a lot of them school was the last place they wanted to be. What I found amazing though, was that there was three teachers which I personally shadowed and observed their lessons, who were amazing, the same students who were fighting in corridors EVERY LESSON CHANGEOVER, throwing rubbish at other teachers, coming late, not doing work at all, were silent, well behaved and actually taking an active part in these three teachers lessons. I was amazed and used to ask myself, “am I in the same school? ” and “ok, where are the you’ve been framed cameras?”. This is when I could see that being a truly good or outstanding teacher can make arguably the biggest impact on the learning, achievement and attainment of a student. It was from that eye opening experience that I wanted to work in an inner city London school and that I wanted to one day become such an amazing teacher that I would have this power or ability to make even the wildest or disengaged student be interested and love education!
After this experience I completed four more different government funded work experiences and my own organised voluntary (for free) work experience in different schools. Just so that I could really see where I felt most comfortable. From my work experiences I found that everyday was completely different, even if I planned a lesson to perfection, play by play of what will happen there was still a hint of unpredictability which I loved, it just kept me on my toes and made my mind always switched on and fully alert (I absolutely hate being bored). The thing that kept me coming back and grew my love for this difficult career is the students, they are so alive and full questions, energy and each have their own stories, I was and still am interested in the whole student who they are as a person, I enjoyed getting to know them even the ones who didn’t get along with me! And the thing that kept me coming back and plowing on even after my difficult days, the dark days of horrible lessons and such bad behavior that almost leaves you in tears is when you see your teaching, your actions, your inspiring words, your consequences that you carried out has positively affected a child, it’s such a wonderful opportunity and a privilege seeing young children grow and better themselves under your watch that is the best feeling in the world, when a student who did not have confidence in themselves, who hated science etc and they come back to me later and say how much hey love the subject, how they believe in themselves and how doing well at school has opened many doors for them.
After I finished my degree I worked for a short time in my universities laboratory to do my masters and I was given a job there as well, however I still couldn’t shake this feeling of teaching off. After almost a year in the lab, I left and didn’t pursue my masters or PHD as I originally wanted to, and I applied for a PGCE (post graduate certificate in Education) course at the best universities in the world for teaching, and I was accepted, since then, that is when I felt I truly got to start my teaching journey as being a teacher and not as a volunteer or a university student doing some work experience. That is whole different post, my experiences during my PGCE year, I will make a separate post on that, what the course entails, how to survive studying and in a school at the same time and making the most from your PGCE course.
To come to end to my lengthy post, why I entered teaching initially was from an interest that was deep inside me from a young age, from an appreciation for everything that my teachers have done for me. As I came from Somalia during the civil war at two years old to the UK, I knew absolutely no English and the culture was totally alien to me. But my teachers at every stage were patient, kind and were eager in helping me to develop into the best version of myself. So I saw myself that I too want to be a great teacher so that I can do the same to others and give back to society everything that I have benefited from.
The second reason I wanted to become a teacher was that I saw it as a challenge, one that I wanted to succeed in, I also saw teaching as a career that was and still is to me incredibly interesting and keeps my brain ticking and learning.
Lastly the main reason after all my experiences and searching, I wanted to become a teacher so that I can help the next generation, that I can change someones life for the better and from that make the world just that little bit better to live in, and that is the most beautiful thing to me about teaching, that you can influence and change someones life so much that it can write the future.