Erica Correia worked as an IT director before changing career to teaching in 2021. Now a Computer Science trainee, she reflects on her first year and how being a career-changer has influenced what she teaches her students.

At first, I found it really daunting to be with children instead of adults every day. It was all so new that I forgot about all the years I had spent building relationships with people in my previous career. Now, I bring that experience into the classroom.

My students are children, but I try not to treat them as people who don’t know what they’re doing. I listen to them; I want to hear their opinions about everything, from the curriculum to current affairs.

I think Now Teachers can look at students a bit differently and give them opportunities to express their thoughts. We’re used to working with groups of different people, with sometimes conflicting views, very much like a class of year 8 students!

My advice for Now Teachers entering teaching would be to use the skills developed in your previous career to really build strong relationships, with your students and colleagues.

My experience counts

There’s a big focus on careers in education now; how schools are teaching them and how they’re linked to the curriculum. As I was used to creating organisational charts, I created one of careers in IT, linked to aspects of the curriculum. This is now used throughout the computer science department at my school. 

Some of my students are interested in security, so I showed them what a security report looks like in the corporate world. Now Teachers have a wealth of experience to share with their students, especially when it comes to careers.

This could easily be replicated across different departments, varying the careers and the curricula of course.

Thinking outside the curriculum

My biggest challenge by far has been the curriculum. Thanks to my background, I can see which computer science topics will be relevant to my students in the future and which aren’t preparing them for real life.

I try to start every class with a news story, linked to an aspect of the syllabus. It gets my students interested in the lesson and starts debate – which is what I’m always trying to do.

After two years of online learning at home, boredom in schools is a big obstacle for educators. But Now Teachers are at an advantage here. We can use our experience to look at what’s happening in the world and bring it into the classroom. It’s more engaging for students to see how the curriculum can be applied in real life.

Of course, it’s more work to think about planning lessons this way. In some schools, you’ll be put off from thinking creatively, but it is possible.

I want the curriculum to be a lot better. But that’s why I became a teacher. I want to change things!