Sometimes on courses we’re asked why we became teachers. Interestingly I don’t think I’ve ever been asked why I became a teacher other than from someone ‘in’ education (students sometimes ask).
In year 6 I had the most inspirational teacher. During a time where things were tough at home, he provided a safe, challenging, exciting environment which I thrived in. I was above average yet he differentiated so I wasn’t bored. I remember him inspiring my love of Maths. Above all we had a relationship with him that meant that school wasn’t boring or run of the mill, but fun and character building. He is still a Head locally and I’m sure he’s gone on to inspire many many local people.
So then I arrived at High school. Hungry to learn and desperate to be challenged. (I used to do my sisters homework for her who was 4 academic years ahead!) Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. I remember a maths lesson in year 7. We basically followed through a set of levelled maths books. It was boring and I finished them extremely quickly. What did the teacher do? Gave me more of the same. I was experiencing the classic year 7 ‘dip’ that is widely thought to happen between KS2 and KS3 through lack of AfL and diagnosis of prior attainment.
I remember more of the same in English and in History. In fact other than the ‘new’ subjects that we did at KS3 I.e MFL I was unchallenged. Looking back, teachers clearly didn’t know how to differentiate.
I thrived socially but was bored academically. It wasn’t until year 9 that the school put an ‘express’ Maths set together. We sat the GCSE in year 10. I achieved an A (no A* back then!).
I don’t blame individuals but I recall lessons that were completely unstructured, unchallenging and now I’m a teacher, I know would be inadequate. Why? Because we were ‘good’ kids in a village school. There weren’t behaviour problems. We sat at our desks and did as we were told. So the teachers could ‘get away’ with it. Did the terms ‘progress’ ‘afL’ and ‘differentiation’ exist in the early 90’s?
I did however have an inspiring form tutor. She was kind and it felt as though she treated us as adults. She was like a second mum for me. We all loved her.
My GCSE results were very good but I should have left that school with ALL A*s. I could easily have got them if I’d been shown ‘how’.
Sadly the story continued in the same vein at Sixth Form. Teaching was dull and uninspiring. I wasn’t supported in the ‘jump’ from GCSE to A level. We were talked ‘at’. I can recall many lessons which would now be inadequate.
So how does this all come together?
I thought I couldn’t do much worse than some of these and would be incredibly proud if I could be half as good as my year 6 teacher and year 11 tutor. So I did a PGCE. Not in Maths or English which I really loved but in RE. A different kind of passion.
I am now a teacher because I love it. I love my job. I love seeing students develop and find out things they’ve never known before. I know what makes students ‘tick’ because I was one. I know how it feels to be bored and uninspired. I don’t want to be one of the teachers who didn’t differentiate. I want all students to achieve no matter what.
My teaching style means I support students to pass exams (all subjects I teach are 100% exam) but to hopefully enjoy the journey on the way. It’s one big game. A game they need to succeed at. But whilst learning the rules they should flourish, feel valued, learn how to work with others, all the things that all teachers should be ensuring we develop in the children we teach.
So, I teach now because I enjoy it. I’m lucky. Not only do I enjoy it but my employer values this and supports me as an AST. I don’t think all teachers do enjoy it.
I can’t really see myself doing anything else.
note: these are my views only. Not those of the schools I’ve been to or worked in, or any other employer of mine.