I often get asked this question, by adults and students alike.
You know what? I don’t know. I’d love to say it’s always been a dream of mine, but it hasn’t. To be honest, I wanted to be a doctor most of my young life. One, because I’m convinced my dad was secretly whispering ”You want to be a Doctor’‘ whilst I slept, and two, because socially, doctors are seen to be successful. Honestly, I just wanted to be successful. Then, mid to late teens, I realised I didn’t have the heart to be a doctor – I’d be wiping tears at nearly every episode of ‘Casualty’ or ‘Holby City’. So the next best thing was to become an accountant. I liked maths, so it made more sense. Therefore, I studied for a BA in Accounting & Finance and oh dear Lord, I was bored! If I was a quitter, I would have dropped out after my 1st year but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So I continued to pretend I enjoyed my course and decided I’d study for another degree after I graduate, when I know what it is I wanted to be.
Then I stumbled across teaching.
As with everyone, I was broke as soon as I graduated. I worked in the NHS part time throughout my degree and that helped with transport and every day costs of being a student in London. A friend of mine – Rose – who was also in the same uni as me, had found herself a job in a private school teaching an extra-curricular subject. She mentioned they needed a Maths TA, and so I thought, why not. I had been tutoring maths for several years at this point (you’d think that would have triggered something in me to start a career in teaching) so I didn’t hesitate to apply. Long story short, I got the job and began after the summer had ended. One month into the school year, the teacher had quit. Management were in limbo as they didn’t have anyone to cover classes in such short notice, and so the head teacher asked me to fill in until they find a replacement.
(Just FYI, non government funded schools can hire unqualified teachers, just as long as they’re adhering to the teaching standards and expectations).
I reluctantly agreed!
However, as soon as I was in that position, in charge with 20 odd students relying on me, I knew this is what I wanted to do. Two weeks, and several drop ins later (just to make sure this inexperienced graduate was coping) the principal had asked me to take on the role and responsibility of being their full time teacher. He was impressed by how I dealt with being thrown in the deep end, treating it like it was my actual low paid job, and the students loved me – which was a bonus! I can’t even tell you why, but after consulting my family, I accepted (I obviously didn’t read all the articles teachers wrote about the paperwork malarkey!)
And that’s how I became a teacher.
Told you, I stumbled upon it.
Actually, I haven’t even answered the question. I often digress.
Why do I teach?
I teach because it makes me happy. Yeah, yeah. So cliché, I know. But honestly, once I’ve gone past the stage of snoozing my alarm several times in the morning, I look forward to my day at work (except Mondays, I hate Mondays!). When I was in London, my drive to work would be filled with thoughts of all the appointments I have scheduled with clients, lesson objectives, key words and starter activities that I’d be showing during my lessons, which would (hopefully) make the kids’ brains click. I’d think about who I told I’m giving a detention to the next day, who I promised a treat, prize or Vivo points to and whether my students were happy.
I became that teacher that took every word a child said, seriously (and my own for that matter). I’d think about why my student was acting a little strange yesterday and so I made it my aim to focus on his or her behaviour today. I’d remember the new slang word I heard yesterday – which I researched when I got home or asked my younger brother about – in order to be able to better understand the kids (by the way, I am cool. I AM urban London – through and through – but times change, and so does slang, unfortunately). I became that person that was obsessed with what I was doing. I also became that person that complained of low pay and work load, but it did not put me off. I’d just pick up Saturday morning shifts helping the year 11’s revise for their exams, and that made up for one of my complaints. I figured, with time and experience the workload would decrease. But honestly, I teach because it gives me a sense of satisfaction, and every year I became more and more satisfied with my role as a teacher. Yes, of course, everyone has bad days, but not everyone has students that would change their mood with just one comment (You’ll be reading a lot about these comments in my blogs). In the UAE, I don’t have time to think about all of this before school, as I live 1 minute and 45 seconds away from my classroom, so I tend to just think about it throughout my day.
I didn’t become a doctor or an accountant, so I missed out on the status and salary, but I became someone’s role model, someone’s go to (you’ll understand what I mean when you read my blog ‘Straight outta Kingston, Jamaica’), someone’s ticket into the real world. I say that because, I don’t sell the ‘success is money’ story, I allow them to know what success feels like in everyday life. Thus making them want to find what makes them feel successful in life. Read my ‘Why my students to like Maths’ post to find out my simple steps to get my students to like me and want to learn maths.