As a career changer, how do you plan to bring your previous work experience into the classroom?
I have always been keen to pass on my knowledge of mathematics in all walks of life. Firstly, starting at when I was at school, helping out younger students in maths classes right through to professional level, mentoring younger graduates who were new to the bank. If a person found a particular area difficult, it was my job to try and help them understand and “make the complicated things simple”. Through this, I am keen to pass on my interest in Mathematics to all students and colleagues in the classroom. Within corporate banking, I had enjoyed working with both graduates and senior leaders who had a genuine passion and talent for solving numerical problems. It inspired me when I saw them taking on extra work in their own time because of their love for the job.
None the less, there were times in banking whereby I had to build up resilience and hold difficult conversations with both colleagues and clients. I often found myself in situations whereby I had to deliver difficult messages, but somehow keep the client onside. For me, this is just as critical when working with those students who need extra support or constantly say “I don’t get it”. Resilience, as a maths teacher is so important. There is an ongoing stigma with maths and just from my observations so far, students are far more accepting to admit that “they cannot do maths”. As maths teachers, we need to constantly explore alternative approaches to keep the students onside.
In corporate banking, we’d often be preparing slides as part of a pitch to win new business. For me, this is transferable to the classroom as there is a constant need to find innovative solutions to support and help students understand. One example that I’ve had the opportunity to explore is with the Far Eastern methods. Having this ammunition in your locker and being able to explore “manipulative, iconic and systematic” methods will be so important to ensuring depth and understanding. From my research, we have placed too much emphasis on teaching students a method, but not really testing the depth of their understanding.
There were times after winning or losing a pitch, I always gave myself time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and how I could improve. Again, I can see how this is transferrable, especially as a maths teacher. Having time to reflect all round is crucial to addressing any misconceptions – always second guessing what could go wrong.
In my previous role, pitching an idea to a business owner is clearly different to that of a teenager and that is a key challenge I am looking to overcome as I continue on my journey.
By Benjamin Carver
You can find Benjamin on Linkedin.