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Personally speaking - 'Dance will always be my plan B'

Who has been your biggest influence?

Mr Marques, my high school law teacher. He spent his early school career being told he wouldn't get anywhere and was passionate that we should never feel that way. He was an inspiration and gave me the confidence to get into teaching.

What is your career high so far?

Having a successful job that I love. Our school has just been rated outstanding by Ofsted - how many newly qualified teachers can say that?

What was your worst moment in teaching?

Getting to grips with the English school system took a while, so that has probably been my biggest challenge so far.

Which pupils are you most proud of?

The pupils who sit quietly in class and achieve good grades, but could do so much more, can achieve amazing things with the right support. Getting them to put their hands up in class or ask for help makes me proud as I want them all to achieve their full potential.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Be brave and make your own decisions. As an NQT, you are observed a lot, so can be unwilling to take risks. Being creative and experimenting to engage young people in learning is what teaching is all about.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

A dancer - I danced competitively growing up. Jazz or contemporary dancing will always be my back-up plan.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

My flatmate and I often hire a car and trek up to Glasgow to see friends at weekends. We came over from Canada together and found teaching posts together at Chalfonts.

What car do you drive?

I live a stone's throw from school so the walk keeps me fit.

Where did you last go on holiday?

A Canadian friend came over last half-term so we flew to Morocco and travelled from Marrakesh to the Sahara - it was fantastic.

Are you tech savvy or a Luddite?

Definitely tech savvy - I can't be separated from my laptop, iPod or mobile, and it comes across in my teaching. We're using Flip cameras to make short films right now.

Sam Walker is a newly qualified history teacher at Chalfonts Community College, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks. Originally from Canada, she was appointed via the recruitment service iday (

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