Retraining as a teacher has its challenges, but our Now Teachers share how they have embraced the experience and why it’s all been worthwhile.
On embracing the learning
Now Teachers go from a career which they do well, to starting all over again. But as we get older learning can plateau. Former banker, Mark Jobling, explains: ‘It’s really reinvigorating and can be good for your soul – and sanity – to do something new.’ Lucy Kellaway agrees: ‘Teaching bends us out of shape, but in a good way.’
2018 Now Teacher Becky Clark can now reflect on her training year. ‘To see yourself from where you were to where you are now… it's a long journey but it's such an effective one. I can say that I'm proud to have learned the skill and the art of teaching, it is such a fulfilling profession.'
On the unexpected freedom
Another empowering upside to being a trainee again – you don’t have to deal with the pressure of being senior. ‘Being at the bottom of the pile again at work is quite liberating,’ says Guy Bowles, a CEO-turned Maths teacher. Geography teacher Nilesh Goswami agrees: ‘It’s actually quite nice being in a frontline role, but not involved with the management side!’ Likewise former financier and businessman, Stephen King feels: 'It’s very liberating to know that all I have to do is be as good a classroom teacher as I can. I don’t need to worry about anything else. It doesn’t matter what management are doing or the government, I just need to concentrate on the 26 pupils in my class.'
On making a difference
In time, the rewards far exceed the challenges. Becky Clark describes how ‘You have that moment where the class has turned around and you can see that they've accepted you as their teacher. You're no longer battling to and fro, but they've come to accept that yes, Miss Clark is my teacher.’
As Khasruz Zaman, Maths teacher and former corporate lawyer says: ‘The kids provide a level of energy and a level of purpose and meaningfulness in what you are doing which is unparalleled’. The joy of teaching comes from these small wins. Spanish teacher and former civil servant, Lynda Burns, notes: ‘the best things about teaching is when one of the shy and quiet students, after many months, puts their hand up, volunteers to do that thing in front of the class and you can see that you've helped them to have confidence.’
On enjoying the day to day
There are a host of ‘simple’ pleasures threaded through the day to day – even the difficult days - which keep Now Teachers buoyed.
‘I’m ridiculously excited if a pupil in the corridor says, “Bonjour Madame!” to me’ says 2017 Now Teacher, Anne-Marie Lawlor. For Peter Watson, a former investment banker and now MFL teacher, the greatest joy has been simply to find that: ‘I love the kids – they are so funny. They are utterly hilarious… They’re very inventive people.’
And something in the day to day shifts in terms of perspective. Lucy compared this to childbirth: ‘When my eldest child was born 26 years ago, for the first time in my life I had something more pressing to think about than myself. Becoming a teacher has performed the same miracle professionally — teaching is no longer about me. It is about the students.’
And counter to all we hear about the status of teaching in the media, when we carried out research earlier this year, the vast majority of Now Teachers felt their sense of self-worth – and indeed of status - had increased.
On Now Teachers
Finally, being a part of ‘the best gang in the world’, as one Cohort member described it, creates a network of likeminded trainees. It matters that there are a group of people all going through the same strange, wonderful and challenging experience.
‘I chose Now Teach because why wouldn’t you?’ says 2017 Now Teacher Razi Hassan. ‘I had the choice of going in alone… or having bespoke support and a community.’
‘The kids provide a level of energy and a level of purpose and meaningfulness in what you are doing which is unparalleled’.