How have you found the change between your previous career and teaching training?

Dr Gabriel ChowI have been a Consultant in Paediatric Neurology for 20 years and have recently retired. I have enjoyed working with children and families over all these years and teaching medical students and doctors but I have missed using and sharing my love of maths which I have pursued over the years with the Open University. I am a SCITT trainee allied to the University of Nottingham. 

As a Consultant in the NHS, I had a fair amount of autonomy to how my day ran as long as I carried out a certain number of clinics, sessions of teaching for medical students and was able to attend specialty meetings and ward rounds. I had my own office which I shared with one other consultant, as a trainee teacher I have a set timetable and travel from lesson to lesson feeling very much like a student. I am more challenged by technology than the younger trainees, learning about online resources and understanding about the social platforms.

I find that being a mature trainee and parent makes communication with staff and children much easier and helps with settling into a school fairly quickly. The organisational skills I have acquired are very useful this year when there are demands from teaching preparation and deadlines from university. My role looking after newly qualified doctors and helping them with their portfolios is transferable to personal statements, careers, and interview practice teaching.

My goal is always to find out how to best engage the children so that I can be an effective teacher and they can be effective learners. I have a whole wealth of resources available to me with many maths teachers in my department, superb subject days and websites through the Mathematics Scholarship. Every day is different and brings different challenges. It is a skill to teach even the easiest of topics well and learn how to manage challenging behaviour, one that I am just starting to learn.

I am no longer worried about a child’s state of health, their treatment and likelihood of survival, I now want to improve children’s understanding of maths and encourage them to learn and hopefully enjoy this subject. I am no longer an expert in my field and I frequently have to find out from others how to do it. 

I have found the career change extremely refreshing and rewarding. What I say to all career changers out there is not to be put off applying to teacher training whatever age you are. As long as you are passionate about mathematics, any skills applied through previous work or life will provide transferable skills.

Dr Gabriel Chow