Job Dreams: Katie, Teacher
As part of our Job Dreams series, we speak to professionals from different careers and share their advice with you. Last month, we learned what it's like to be a pharmacy technician. And this month we met teacher Katie, who told us what it’s like to teach during coronavirus…
What do you do?
I teach English at a state secondary school in South West London.
Can you tell us what your day-to-day is like?
During the week, I try to get into school pretty early so I have some time to prepare for my first lesson. From the moment my students arrive, my day is jam-packed with teaching different classes and using any free periods to plan future lessons, mark work and respond to emails. Usually, I would be teaching year groups from Year 7 through to sixth form, but due to coronavirus Covid-19, there have been lots of changes! To keep everyone safe and ensure that we minimise contact between different groups of people, each teacher has been assigned to a ‘bubble’, so this term I’m just teaching Year 7 and Year 8. Each class remains in the same classroom throughout the day, with teachers moving around the school for their different lessons. There are a few times in my timetable where I have to be at one end of the school for one lesson, and then sprint to the other side of the school to start my next lesson, which may prove a little challenging!
What do you love most about your job?
The best thing about my job is the variety. I never know what each day will bring, as every student is unique and every lesson presents new and exciting challenges. I love being able to build positive relationships with my students – although I’ am the one doing the teaching, I always find that I learn so much from them!
What do you find most challenging?
Being a teacher is incredibly full on. From getting up early, to essentially ‘performing’ for your students every hour of the day, to juggling all sorts of administration tasks and planning ahead – oh, and feeling the pressure of somebody’s future in your hands – teaching is exhausting. I think the beginning- of- term- tiredness is what I’m currently finding most challenging, particularly having been working from home for the last sixth months!
What did you see yourself doing when you were a kid?
I had a very long list of things I wanted to do when I was a kid – acting, singing, hairdressing, TV-presenting, novel-writing – to name but a few. Teaching was definitely on there somewhere!
What challenges did you face in reaching where you are today?
I was very fortunate to have supportive parents and a great school growing up, which meant that I was able to study the subject I was passionate about at university (English) and have a good choice of careers. However, I think the biggest challenge that I have faced has been a lack of confidence. I was always the ‘quiet one’ in class, and struggled to speak up for myself in the first couple of jobs I had after uni. It was actually working for NCS that helped me gain the confidence I needed to speak to a room full of people and inspire others!
If you weren’t a teacher, what do you think you’d be?
If I weren’t a teacher, I think I’d still be working with young people in some way. Either that, or I’d be running my own card-making business, whilst writing a novel on the side!
Where do you see yourself going next?
I’m pretty set on developing as an English teacher – my long-term goal is to be Head of English somewhere, so that I can use my passion and experience to shape a whole school’s English teaching strategy. (The novel will also happen at some point!).
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first left school?
The future seemed so daunting when I first left school. – I had no idea what I was going to end up doing past university. I wish I’d known that it would be okay not to have a fully fleshed-out plan for my life, and that I would learn so much from each opportunity, even if it wasn’t always what I would ideally be doing at that time. Working out what I liked best about each job or experience, and what I didn’t like, helped me to figure out what sort of career I really wanted to be in.
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining your industry?
It’s a challenging job, but if you are passionate about learning and young people, willing to work hard, and can develop quite a thick skin, then you’ll love it! There are so many routes into teaching that it can seem quite daunting knowing where to start. I took the ‘School Direct’ training route, which meant that I trained on the job, and was qualified after a year. Talk to some teachers and ask them how they started out, and get their top tips too.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?
Not to take things too personally! It can be tough – especially when you’re exhausted and have poured your heart and soul into planning a lesson – if a student isn’t playing by the rules, or you hear a not-so-complimentary comment from a disgruntled Year 8. Learning not to take things to heart, and developing a calm and patient demeanour, is difficult but essential.
What quote do you live by?
One of many quotes from the Bible that reminds me that I don’t need to worry so much about things” – ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ (Matthew 6:34)