Give teaching a try!

There are so many aspects of teaching that people who have never done it will always overlook or perhaps never understand: being in school before most people wake up, staying late to chat to parents, how desperately those 13 weeks of holiday are needed, that feeling when the penny finally drops for a student or just how each and every single day is different. There’s no real way to experience anything close without actually giving it a go, but luckily over the past year, I have done exactly that.

I signed up for the Surrey Plus Maths Hub Undergraduate Placement scheme because I was curious to see if teaching was for me. I did not expect to have a full and perfect answer, but I knew that experience could never be a bad thing. Looking back to a year ago, I had no idea what career path I wanted to go down. Unlike others, I had no clear direction to help shape my placement choice; I had to rely on the idea that one day I might happily be a teacher. I remember my inhibitions initially; of going back to a school so soon after I’d finished myself, the kids being able to sense my inexperience and earning respect being nigh on impossible. How would I have felt being told off by someone only a few years older than me? But on top of those worries, there was an enormous amount of excitement. As someone who is terrible with monotony, the possibility of working in an ever-changing and exciting environment (as opposed to the office based placements that my peers were entering in to) was the dream!

Now that I’ve finished my year, I can safely say that those inhibitions were not to be worried about, and the excitement was well judged. The initial training offered by Surrey Plus Maths Hub helped calm any nerves that I had, as well as providing me with sufficient resources to get me into a classroom straight away. During my time at St. Andrews Catholic School in Leatherhead, I assistedTom Gatens.fw teaching in classrooms of all years, led numeracy interventions for weaker students lower down the school, ran personalised revision sessions for GCSE Students and even took my own class for a whole year. My ever changing role in the Maths department gave me an immense amount of satisfaction. This vocation never settles down into anything resembling tedium! Only through experience do you truly learn, and with the vast amount of exposure I had to the real life of a teacher, I have learned a great deal; not only about this career, but key skills that can be put into practice in any role (time management, people skills etc.).

The Surrey Plus Maths Hub Undergraduate Placement Scheme offers the perfect opportunity to give it a try. If I hadn’t enjoyed this year then a lesson would have been learned; a career in education is not for me. Fortunately, I did enjoy this year and know full well that once my degree is finished in a year’s time, I would more than happily move into a teaching career. But I also know exactly what the lifestyle is like. Perhaps in a year I will decide I want to explore other career opportunities; if for the next 5 years a wild interest in Investment Banking sweeps me away, then I know full well, after the year that I’ve had, that teaching is something I will more than happily return to.

Tom Gatens