Things I wish I knew before I started teaching...

I am not someone who dreamt of being a teacher as a child. Similarly, I wasn't a mathematics undergraduate, who was passionate about teaching the next generation. My response was always “Definitely not, most children hate maths, why would I ever want to teach a subject that so many people dislike?”

 

However, after leaving a job in finance, somebody told me that they thought I would make a brilliant teacher. My ego was flattered and despite my doubts, I applied for a teacher training programme. Three years later, here's what I wish I'd known when I was a student who thought that they'd never teach...

 

Not everyone hates maths. And the best part about those who think that they do? As a teacher, you have the power to change their mind! A productive and safe classroom, a well-planned lesson, a little humour and a lot of kindness goes a long way. Every time a student tells me they enjoy their maths lessons, I know that society is one step closer to another young person entering the world of STEM. 

 

The thanks and kind words that we receive from students outweigh all the negative aspects of teaching. They make the marking, the long hours and what feels like the constant OFSTED threat worthwhile. Everyone remembers their favourite childhood teacher. For many they were our role models and for some, we spoke to them more than any other adult we knew. As teachers, we are truly honoured to have the opportunity to be role model for young people.

Teaching is about so much more than academia. Exam results are so important, especially in today's job market, but for me, student’s wellbeing, confidence and happiness is the pinnacle. As teachers, we have the unique opportunity to impact student’s lives like nobody else. Nothing pleases me more than when a student who entered my classroom a little shy and lacking in confidence is able to explain a mathematical solution at the front of my classroom to 30 of their peers and feel proud of themselves afterwards.

Finally, teaching is the most wonderful, fun and rewarding career that I never could have imagined before I started. I have recently taken a sabbatical and I miss teaching everyday, so much so that I have decided to stop travelling for a little while to look for a new teaching position here in Melbourne, Australia. 

There is so much negativity clouding the teaching profession currently and there is no doubt that it is one of the most difficult jobs. For me though, I believe that the positives far outweigh the negatives. That’s one to remember when your 'to do' list is as long as your arm!

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