I became a teacher in my thirties. Having had a pretty disastrous early experience with education in school, I left with no qualifications. By the age of twenty-seven I was a mum of three children and realised that if I was ever going to have a meaningful career I’d have return to study. I’d made a few unsuccessful attempts in my early twenties, but this time – with the support of a very good friend – I managed to complete my GCSEs (then called O Levels) in English Language, English Literature and an AS in Psychology, Child Development.
When the paper arrived with my results – all A’s – I shrieked with excitement; my confidence in my ability was restored and I went on to complete A levels, a Humanities degree, and a Cert Ed in Post-compulsory education (English & Communication specialism). I subsequently went on to achieve certificates and diplomas in areas of relevant professional development, but no achievement was more exciting than that first step!
You may wonder what brought such a turnaround, apart from my career epiphany? In two words: good teachers. The relationship with your teacher can make all the difference between success and failure. That is not to take anything away from the achievement of the student. The teacher is the support scaffold that enables the student to reach goals that they may not have considered possible. As an adult my teachers believed in me – often more than I believed in myself. They were not all the most qualified in their respective subjects – but they did have a passion for them; they were encouragers, coaches, cheerleaders, and above all, always on my side.
Those were teachers that I will always remember with affection, respect and admiration. It was because of them that I became a teacher and it was their teaching style I emulated. A PhD does not make a person the most qualified to teach. Often in my career I have been aware of the snobbery that surrounds teaching in respect of where a teacher graduates from, or of the specialisms of their degree. My thoughts on this are you should simply ask for testimonials from previous students and/or parents if you want to know more about the teacher. Nowadays we rarely book a holiday or buy anything without looking at the reviews – what’s the difference with a teacher?
In conclusion, I would like to think that I will be one of those ‘remembered fondly’ teachers. Over my nearly thirty year career in education I have remained in contact with many of my students and I am proud of what they have gone on to achieve. Some are now teachers themselves – and very good ones too I might add – whilst others are policemen, actors, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, many with Masters and PhDs. I’m proud of all of them, especially the student who passed his resit English GCSE with a level 6 and was so delighted because he didn’t think he could ever do it, and the adult student who was a postman, took his GCSEs and is now a legal assistant; in short, I’m proud to have been a part of their journeys.
Anna is an English and Drama tutor with Newman Tuition, and has been Head of English Department at several schools. To book a lesson with her, or one of our other excellent tutors, please call us on 020 3198 8006, email us at [email protected], or complete the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.