What advice would you give someone considering a career as a secondary mathematics teacher?
The main piece of advice I would give to any aspiring teacher is to think about your reasons for getting into the profession. They will carry you through anything the training process can throw at you.
I had always enjoyed school but after leaving, I felt ill-equipped for the world beyond academics. Ever since, I have always felt strongly that preparing young people, through education, for the life that follows, is an immensely challenging but hugely worthwhile task. The world is tough, and young people deserve the best opportunity they can get. Teaching is a huge part of providing that opportunity.
In order to give young people a great chance, we have to understand the art and science of education. I am fortunate that my wife is a teacher, so I knew that pedagogy was a fascinating subject. The contrast of the theory with the creative application in the classroom is really exciting to me. Blending the two is the sort of skill that you can never quite master, but can always improve, which is just the sort of task I love to undertake. I think this is important because, whilst wanting to help young people is the core of being a teacher, the job can offer you so much more. For me, I love the idea of the academic challenge of building lessons and schemes of work that motivate students to succeed in exams and in the world beyond. That is what I will be working on for the next two decades.
Teaching, additionally, is also a wonderfully flexible career. Many industries are based in certain cities, certain regions, or even certain towns. Teaching can be anywhere! If you want to live and work in the Lake District; you can do that! Down by the beach in Newquay, you can do that too! Or Scotland, or Manchester or the Peak District. There are young people to help and amazing places to live all across the country, and teaching allows you to experience both. During lockdown, I realised that now was the time and that I wanted to be one of the people who helped, but that also my family could have a better life in Yorkshire. Few careers offer the life options that teaching does.
For me, teaching offered everything I wanted. To have the chance to help students and young people, whilst living in a beautiful part of the country with my family, and knowing that I have undertaken an extensive, varied challenge which will last a lifetime, is more than enough for me.
By Mark Bridle
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