My Experience As A Career Changer - By Tapesh Patel
For me, going into teaching was not an immediate decision….but I always had a hunch I’d end up doing it! I’d considered it for a long time, but I wanted to try other things first. My undergraduate degree was in French and German, and I wasn’t (and still am not) convinced that I would make a good languages teacher, but I started tutoring maths a couple of years ago which felt totally natural.
Why did I change? I guess I could have easily stuck with tutoring as a side gig. I loved my previous two jobs on a day-to-day basis (at an advertising agency and a callcentre), but ultimately there was always something missing, and I’d had too many positive experiences with teaching to keep on ignoring it. I always thought the whole ‘change a life’ idea was goofy and a bit far-fetched, but I was seeing young people change in front of my eyes. Tutoring gave me a sense of a bigger purpose, and once I experienced that I knew it was time to take the plunge.
I’m training with the University of Birmingham, and because my degree wasn’t in maths, I did a 6-month SKE (Subject Knowledge Enhancement) course before starting my teaching qualification. The SKE rekindled the love for maths that I had as a child and lost as a teenager. The training year has been full of great sessions on things like approaches to teaching maths, behaviour management, mental health in schools…..the list goes on!
As we speak I’m three weeks into my second placement. The teaching hours are ramping up now and I’d be lying if said it wasn’t demanding. But the difficult days are far outweighed by the good ones, and the children are really what makes the profession the best one going. Feeling like I could shape the minds of young people is a massive motivation. Trying to deliver the best lesson for my students is a purpose that really drives me every day, and I personally find it a lot more motivating than, say, trying to help my company make more money.
I’ve had some terrible lessons as a trainee – ones where children have stared back after an explanation, baffled, ones where my questions were too difficult….but I’ve used those experiences to my benefit, by speaking with the teacher observing, reflecting on what went wrong, and then improving my teaching based on the feedback. There’s so much to think about while you teach that I think it’s impossible to have the perfect lesson, but that just means there’s always room for improvement! And that’s why teaching is a career like no other.
By Tapesh Patel
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