Retraining as a maths teacher: My slow motion leap home

There are always reasons not to make a big career change: the worry about starting again; the fear of failure or rejection; the time, effort and patience required; the anxiety about an initial income drop; that upcoming wedding of mine. But I knew that making the leap from tax into teaching was what I was supposed to do with my life. I say leap, but a more appropriate visualisation for my journey would be a triple jump watched in agonising slow motion.

Teaching is a path that I’ve considered walking down since my student days, but I was also keen to gain some experience in the world outside of education, and so I decided to first train as an accountant in London. I made lifelong friends and learned a lot about the world and myself during my first career. In recent years, I have struggled with anxiety and self-confidence issues; as a relatively introverted and quiet person, I constantly told myself that I couldn’t possibly become an effective teacher. And for a long time, I believed that.

I’m not a big believer in fate, but at the start of this year the universe was definitely trying to tell me something: personal and family ill health showed me that life is fragile and potentially fleeting, new and rising stars at work meant that everything would be in good hands if I moved on, and a pesky pandemic provided a pause for personal reflection. I finally felt ready to start running down the track. But what about that anxiety hurdle? A partial cure for that came in the form of Jamie Thom’s brilliantly powerful book, ‘A Quiet Education’. After I devoured it, I said ‘Right, I can and will be a good teacher’. I started my applications that very evening.

Being awarded a maths teacher training scholarship gave me an incredible confidence boost as I made the leap. The application process was exciting and made me reflect on why I’m so passionate about maths and teaching.

I’ve now started my PGCE and scholar journey and am loving every second of it - meeting fellow maths and teaching enthusiasts, the change of pace and energy, and the sense of pride and satisfaction in doing a job that has personal meaning, enjoyment and value.

So, for anyone out there with a quiet desire to retrain as a maths teacher, I say start running down the track, with a hop into UCAS, a step into a scholarship, and a jump into what I think will be a highly rewarding career. The classroom always felt like my second home as a child - despite now sitting in a different chair, it feels good to be home.

By Thomas Attrill