Career Changers In The Classroom
I’m now a trainee teacher, but until recently, my workday was completely different. I was a journalist, writing for a special interest magazine. I spent most of my time in front of a computer screen and in meetings, so spending all day working with young people is a big change. That said, I’ve found that many of the skills I developed in my last job apply here, too.
As a journalist, I did a lot of writing. I wasn’t writing about topics that come up on the national curriculum, but the information was often complicated and technical. So, I had to learn to communicate things in a simple, non-threatening way that is still entertaining. I have found this to be incredibly useful when planning my lessons to pre-prepare some concise sentences for the more tricky concepts – and I’m sure anyone with experience in technical writing, report writing or communicating their work to the public would find the same.
Like many businesses (and members of the public), the magazine ran a podcast. As one of the hosts, I learned to think more before I spoke, to stop myself from babbling. This feels like a skill that is going to be critical in the classroom, and one that people with public speaking or presenting experience would share. The temptation when presented with an audience of blank faces is always to keep talking in the hope that you’ll find your way to an explanation that works. Sometimes, though, it's best to stop, take a breath, and start again. In a classroom, you may not be able to edit out your mistakes like you can on a podcast, but it’s still useful to take a moment to gather your thoughts.
Finally, one of the most useful skills I learned in my previous career will be one that many career changers have learned: time management. As in teaching, the work in journalism is never done. There are always deadlines; there are always more tweaks you can make to an article. But it’s vital to look after yourself so you can bring your best work to the office (or to school). So, I’ve learned to prioritise tasks that need to be completed today, get started on big jobs in plenty of time, and realise when it’s time to take a break and recharge.
By Maths Scholar 2022/23
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