As a career changer, how do you plan to bring your previous work experience into the classroom?

Ella ForsythThe most common question you are asked in a maths lesson is “when am I going to use this in real life?”. The students might seem disengaged with the work when they ask this, but they are actually searching for a way to translate classroom concepts into their own life and interests. As a career changer, especially from a science background like mine, I have personally seen maths in all its varied applications being used in real life. Before becoming a teacher, I worked as an environmental consultant, a job I started shortly after I graduated.

Throughout my career as a consultant in air quality I constantly needed to spot patterns, analyse data and solve problems, with the hope of producing sufficient evidence to inform policies. In a data-driven society, spotting patterns and analysing data are fundamental skills used in almost every area. These skills are all built through the foundation of mathematics and developing logical reasoning.

Additionally, during my career I had the opportunity to see how friends and fellow maths graduates in different fields used maths. I can use this knowledge to illustrate both the uses of maths in the wider world, but also the many paths it can lead you down. Witnessing the applications and how the skills learned in maths were woven into the bones of society helps me give maths meaning in the classroom. For me, it keeps everything in perspective and reminds me why I am teaching each concept.

Beyond the real-life applications and research skills that my previous career gave me, I got the opportunity to use some of the latest technologies. Having this foundation of knowledge helps keep my teaching relevant, visual and interactive, which boosts student engagement. Using technology can also help to remove barriers to learning for those with additional learning needs, making the classroom a place for all. Through programming software and developing algorithms I understand the workings of the technology and the processes that drive it. Teaching enables me to pass these skills on to young learners, and properly equip them for their future.

Finally, being a woman in STEM presented its own challenges but was an experience I ultimately thoroughly enjoyed. I relish the opportunity to use my experiences and inspire others, of all backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM. I took an unconventional route into meteorology via maths, further demonstrating the versatility of studying maths.

By Ella Forsyth