The following is a blog post I’ve written for the National College for Teaching and Leadership – I have agreed to be a case study to try to encourage other career changers into teaching (at least I can say I’m doing my bit, to address the looming teacher shortage – rather than being all “doom and gloom”) It’s probably not the finished version, but thought I’d post it anyway … I promise I will be back with more lesson/resource blog posts soon … it is, after all, half term!! yay!!!
Why teach maths?
Wow! What a question! Sometimes I find myself wondering how I’ve ended up teaching Maths – like so many other children my frame of reference in terms of what “I wanted to be when I grew up” involved jobs that I’d seen adults doing, so in my case that was shopkeeper (my mam), steelworker (my dad) and then there were my teachers, which is where my ambition probably stems from, but it hasn’t always been the case. I was at primary school in the 80’s and was affected by the teachers strikes at that time, so as I entered Secondary school my ambitions changed and I thought a career in Law was for me. Work experience at a Solicitors office quickly dispelled this idea and I was unsure of where my future lay, so chose to study subjects that I enjoyed – Physics, Maths and Computing Science.
During a session with a career advisor I mentioned that my subjects were steering me in the direction of Engineering – the response was “you can’t do that as a woman” – Unenlightened and not very PC I hear you say, but it made me very determined and my mind was made up: Engineering it was! Well actually, I ended up with a joint degree (Engineering and Business Studies) as it turned out I really enjoyed the management elements of the course more than anything else. In preparation for post-university life I managed to persuade a university to offer me a place on a PGCE to teach, what was then known as “Craft, Design and Technology”, however never took up the place as I ended up staying in my university town.
I met my husband in my part time (it became full time) job working in a pub and a year later we were both self employed running a town centre pub – probably not the most aspirational for a graduate, but it turned out to be quite lucrative. After several years, and after my mother was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident I made the decision that I wanted a corporate career – which triggered my rapid progression from Regional Manager with a national brewery, then National Finance Manager with a national parcel company and finally I became an Operations Director for an international electrical contracting company.
These careers whilst financially rewarding, at times felt a little hollow, and I wanted more – in a conversation with a friend about “ideal jobs” I was asked if I’d thought about teaching (they didn’t know my childhood ambitions), and this triggered something for me. I spent some time investigating my training options, visited a local school and had lots of heart-to-hearts with my husband – a big factor was giving up my salary and all the benefits. We decided we could survive financially and so the next step was to decide which subject to teach.
I’m conscious that this blog post is about “my journey into teaching” and I haven’t answered my original question … cue “Why teach Maths? TAKE TWO”