My Words of Encouragement
In my previous career, I dreaded Mondays and looked forwards to Fridays. As a Maths Teacher, I still look forward to Fridays, but now I absolutely love Mondays. I look forwards to teaching each lesson I’ve painstakingly planned, reflecting on the impact on the students, determining how much progress each student has made and then consolidating or modifying my strategies to achieve the maximum progress for each student. Those priceless moments when a student solving a Maths problem suddenly exclaims “this is Fun, I never thought it would be!” and there is a chorus of agreement across the entire classroom, make being a Maths teacher incredibly satisfying. Also satisfying is what I call ‘aha moments’ when a student suddenly smiles in the realisation that Maths is not so difficult and that they too can solve Maths problems. With each problem a student solves independently, they become more confident, this is a very fulfilling process to facilitate.
In my decision to become a Maths teacher, I was particularly influenced by the National Numeracy Report (www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk), which linked poor numeracy levels to unemployment, low wages, poor health and crime. This report cited research from Pro Bono Economics which put the estimated cost to the UK of poor numeracy skills at £20.2 billion annually. The report also stressed that the UK needed a numerate population to build a strong economy and to compete globally. It is gratifying to think that in pursuing my passion for teaching and Mathematics, I can be of great service to the nation and to the world in general.
Thus what words of encouragement would I give someone considering being a Maths teacher? One word, DON’T.
Don’t be a Maths teacher if you are looking for an easy, well paid job with short hours and lots of holidays. The reality is vastly different. Furthermore, don’t be a Maths teacher if you believe some people are ‘Maths’ people and some people are not. Don’t be a Maths teacher if you do not truly care about students and are unwilling to invest time and emotions demonstrating to every student that with self – belief, hard work and a clear focus, we are all ‘Maths’ people.
But should you find in yourself a burning need to give back to society and transform lives, a belief that all can succeed and determination to make a difference, then my one word of encouragement is DO.
By Chinyere Mbanefo