What does being a teacher really mean?

Of course teaching means different things to different people but think about your own schooling. Which teacher stands out for you? Is it the first teacher you came across in reception or one who was supportive? Was it a teacher with a sense of humour or one that pushed you to achieve things you never imaged were possible? Teaching is one thing but it appears teachers are something else entirely.

Teachers need personality for sure

Charisma is something that takes teachers to another level.  We all respond to people with a personality, someone who demonstrates they care. The teacher who understands that parts of the curriculum are tough and does their best to get people through it is a star. I knew a geology teacher who would start a section of the exam syllabus with ‘You’ll really hate this subject and I defy anyone to enjoy soils. It just won’t happen.’ He then did his best to add experiments and fun activities to the geology lessons. Inevitably students would say, ‘ we just don’t understand why you said we would hate soils it’s a great subject!’ Teachers are much more intelligent that students give them credit for sometimes.

Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers available

Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers available
Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

A teacher is multi-skilled

Teaching is about being a good administrator, multi-tasker, scheme followers and target-hitter but it’s much more than that. Many Maths Scholars who are career changers talk about how their careers had something missing. Scholars that have worked in the police, the space agency, investment banks and insurance have all said the same; ‘we wanted to feel we were making a difference.’

In teaching no day is ever the same

That’s not a surprise as many job surveys show that money is not a motivator once you reach a certain level.  We all know that doing something we hate is called stress but doing something we love is called passion. Teaching is the kind of career where no day is the same really. If you work in schools kids change. You see that profoundly when they waltz in after the summer break and some of them are grazing the ceiling they’ve grown so much. Many things happen to students throughout their school life and sometimes teachers are the only real constant.

Being a teacher should never be underestimated

Being a teacher should never be underestimated

Photo by Jesse Orrico on Unsplash

How will you get into students’ heads?

Personally, I have a box of cards, letters and mementos students have given me over the years. I get Facebook friend requests from students who are now in their 30s and 40s. When a teacher truly connects with classes and students amazing journeys can ensue. There is nothing more special that the famous ‘light bulb moment’ when you know a difficulty has been cleared. We can never underestimate that student journey either. I remember one day a primary school child sitting at his desk crying. I was shocked and wondered what had happened. I knelt down by his side and asked what the matter was. ‘I just can’t draw an 8’  he sobbed. It really mattered. So with a few moments together the boulder was rolled away, he dried his eyes and carried on with the maths exercises.

Yes, teaching is tough.

No one who has actually worked in a classroom would disagree with that. You need to have great subject knowledge, you need to be prepared to be flexible and excited, enthusiastic, passionate but also tough. Every September I used to liken the first month as ‘puppy walking’ where students tested your mettle and pulled on the lead until they realised ‘walkies’ would be far more interesting and pleasurable when they cooperated. It’s tough being consistent and when you mean exactly what you say. Yet, I can honestly say some of the most amazing memories come from the students themselves who went on to achieve. 

Teaching can be an absolute blast

If you have ever thought about teaching as a career and especially teaching Maths or STEM subjects, there is plenty of information to be found on the Maths Scholars website and also on the Get Into Teaching website. If you have any questions you can catch the Maths scholars scheme on Facebook or Twitter, so feel free to ask questions and get yourself ready to apply. You know teaching will be an absolute blast.

Vivienne Neale is a teacher and digital marketer and has been working with the Maths Scholars scheme since 2014.