Some people who decide to do Teach First know before even starting that they are not going to pursue a career in teaching, but they are just using it to develop key skills and experience before moving onto another career. Others who do the programme have had their heart set on teaching for years and are joining with a genuine interest in starting their teaching career. Then there’s people like me, who start Teach First with no fixed long term plan about what they would like to do after the programme, but are just grateful of the experience and the salary for two years.
In my first couple of months of teaching, I did not think I would make it to the end of the two years, let alone stay in teaching after this time. I really was not enjoying it, questioned every day why I signed up and I would get a serious case of the Sunday blues every week, dreading the return to work and the new nightmares it would bring.
This week however, for the first time, I have actually been thinking that I wouldn’t mind continuing with teaching after I finish the two years and I would even go so far as to say I’ve been enjoying it. Sure, I still have lessons that go terribly, but I have also made a lot of progress with some classes and students.
For example, one year 10 boy who I have had issues with since September. He has always caused huge disruption in each of my lessons, talking over me, throwing things across the classroom, not listening etc. but over the past few months it got worse and to the point where he would not do any work at all in my lessons. I would be lucky if I even got him to write the date and title in a lesson- that is how little work he was doing. This meant he was getting a detention from me every single lesson but he just didn’t care. When I tried to help him, he would tell me he wasn’t good at science and so just refused to even try. After countless conversations with his Mum about what we can do to make him work, on Thursday this week he had his best lesson ever with me. He did everything I asked him to, he caused no disruption and he not only completed all the work but he was the first to finish the first task. Neither myself or his Mum understand why he has suddenly changed and decided to try in science, but this behaviour and effort was the same again on Friday and I hope that he can keep it up now. Although this is not progress that I can claim responsibility for, it feels so good to finally have him trying in lessons, asking me for help and actually listening to my explanation until he understands and not giving up. Even when another student spilt water on his worksheet today, instead of going in a mood and screwing the whole sheet up like I know previous him would have done, he got some paper towels to try and mop it up and even handed it to me at the end of the lesson to dry out so that he could stick it in next week.
This example is not exactly an example of the impact I’ve had as a teacher, because I know this change is all down to the student himself, but it is a little reminder that there are some positives to teaching and all the effort and time spent doing things like communicating with parents are worth it in the end.