“The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.” William Shakespeare.
‘So what made you want to be a teacher?’ The single, most prevalent question a teacher is asked. But for me there is no definitive answer. It is a mixture of plethoric experiences in my life that has led me to where and who I am today.
At school I wasn’t an A* student, I didn’t feel like I was particularly able and my behaviour matched this! However, there is always that one teacher (your favourite teacher) *sound of butterflies and birds chirping/singing*. I remember being one of the first to turn up to her lessons to sit at the front of the class, head in my hands elbows on the desk like butter wouldn’t melt. I just watched her in awe, she knew everything. She had that spark. Just over 15 years and I still remember her, Miss Flowers; my English teacher. Miss Flowers made learning fun, she made me laugh; the work I produced for her and my behaviour in that lesson was impeccable! Miss Flowers knew how it was done, she had the power!
Many years later I applied for a job at a local Academy; working with vulnerable families and students. I worked with students who had extremely poor attendance; disengaged with school and were severely below National average. I can recall one girl in particular, her attendance was 32% when I first began working with her. My relentless determination and belief in her ability to succeed reflected in the improvement in her school engagement. Consequently, her attendance improved to 67% and she completed school with GCSE’s needed to enable her to embark upon a college course working with animals.
Experiences similar to the one above were testament to my unwavering faith in young people. I then began working in the pastoral department, directly working with students with poor behaviour and attendance. The biggest challenge for me was when they left my care and entered the classroom as I managed to get the students into school, into their lessons but then I was no longer in control of their progress. I was not the adult in the room to say; ‘Come on you can do this, you are good enough and you are clever enough and you have got this.’ The students would come to me at the end of the day and quite blatantly say: ‘I wish you were my teacher!’ I realised I had a spark, a certain way of working with young adults and them responding to me. 10% was me and my charismatic personality but 90% was their resilience and their determination not to let me down.
After returning from maternity leave, I considered becoming a teacher. I spoke with the head teacher at the school and we decided I would cover lessons and see how I felt in the classroom, teaching. I knew I would immediately know if I had what it took to be a teacher. My first lesson was daunting, my second too, my third more. It wasn’t until my 5th lesson that I remember thinking- now this is me! I was in my element. I was where I was meant to be. Within 6 months I applied to start my teacher training and I was accepted at my first interview. I trained to be an English teacher, obviously! My training year was the hardest year of my life; being a mum, a student and a teacher whilst trying to stay sane. Today, here I sit typing away endlessly on the keyboard telling my story. I am an NQT and a mother of a beautiful little boy. Both roles intertwined in one. I am my child’s first teacher and a motherly figure to the students I teach.
So why am I a teacher? There is no short and simple answer. There is no epiphany moment, but it is with great contentment I can say that I found my ‘why’ in life.