About me - What Teaching Taught Me

I shook my new headteacher’s hand and walked back to my car filled with hope and excitement at getting my first teaching job. Little did I know that was the easy part.

My teaching story began over 10 years ago. I graduated from college with a good degree and full of hope and expectation that I’d seamlessly move into my first job. Dozens and dozens of applications were sent out around the country but to no avail. I took a few jobs including sales and factory work until the “right one” appeared. It never did. After a year or so my wife and I talked it over and she reminded me I’d always liked helping out the younger students at college and led study sessions with my classmates. She suggested teaching. By this point I was tired of hauling boxes out of trucks at 6am and was willing to give it a try. So, I applied, got accepted and started my training.

A year later after too many late nights amd early mornings to count I qualified. And what’s more I enjoyed it. It was tough, very tough, but every day I got to do a great experiment or listen to a silly story from a student or see the look when a student gets something I’ve explained five different ways. It’s fair to say I’d caught the bug.

And after 10 years what has teaching taught me? Well, so many things but if I have to put down the main positives I’ve got out of my career the following is a pretty good list:

To be resilient – this job often feels like two steps forward one step back. And with some kids it can be extremely challenging. But you have to go on. Everyday. And keep chipping away at the kid who puts up the barriers until they let them down. Or keep trying new teaching ideas and not beating yourself up when you have a rubbish lesson. You have to have a thick skin.

To be grateful – knowing the backgrounds of some of the students I’ve taught over the years I can count myself extremely lucky that my parents provided a loving and safe environment for me to grow up in. Some kids have it tough. Really, really tough and that’s not fair. I hope to pass onto my two children that they should be grateful for their relatively easy life and when you have a position of privilege you should do your bit to give back.

To be patient – when you say something or try for so long to get through to a student and finally they get it. It’s worth it. So worth it. The look of accomplishment they get when it all comes together and they realize they can do it is a true highlight of our job. It pays to be patient as they say.

To be tough – you have to get up and go in. Everyday. And often fake how you’re truly feeling. But that’s fine because sometimes if you drag yourself through a crappy day with a fake smile on your face, soon it turns to a real one. 

To feel lucky – there are days. Not very often, but often enough when my job isn’t work. When, from the first lesson to Last, I laugh and have fun. When it all comes together and I and the kids are in a great mood. Those days I count myself lucky that I have a job that allows me to experience that. Because so many people don’t. They go through the motions and work out of obligation or requirement rather than choice.

To not take myself too seriously – relax. Enjoy yourself. Roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. And wear that silly jumper or stupid tie. They may act like they’re all grown up but they’re just kids and they like to have a good laugh. It’s no harm to make it at your expense (laughing with, not at of course!).

So, there we have it. Is my job difficult? Yes. Are there days I want to walk out and quit? several. Have there been times I’ve doubted I’m up to it? Many. But why do I keep coming back day after day? Because of what teaching has and will continue to teach me.

I’ll be using this site to blog about my experiences and share the knowledge I’ve gathered along the way – knowledge I wish someone had shared with me when I started. Get in touch via my social media and thanks for stopping by. 

Classroom Chemist.

Experiments in a chemistry lab. conducting an experiment in the laboratory