'If I can influence two or three children, it's worth it'

1st November 2002 at 00:00
Name John Searls. Age 36. Current post Newly qualified, teaching design technology at Broad Oak high in Bury, Lancashire

Career to date?

I didn't enjoy school. The curriculum didn't interest me, the teachers didn't interest me. I left at 16 to become an apprentice bricklayer, then worked in the building trade before deciding in my late twenties that I wanted to teach. I did an access course and took a degree in politics at Lancaster University. After a gap of a few years I took a two-year degree in design technology with qualified teacher status at Edgehill college.

Why did you become a teacher?

It is an irony that of all the trades and professions I could have gone into, I have ended up teaching. But it's good to be able to give something back, something that was never really given to me. It started off with me wanting to teach woodwork, but so many other skills come into design technology now. It has moved on since I was at school.

I love the subject because it's so broad. You can bring a lot of yourself into it; it's not static, it's as interesting as you want to make it. I like to get the children doing things.

What's the best thing that's happened to you so far?

Being able to create relationships with the children, building trust. With some, especially the more difficult children, I find it rewarding beyond belief. One particular chap was really messing about in my lesson, so I made him feel important by giving him jobs to do, treating him with respect and a bit of trust. I was rewarded tenfold.

And the worst?

Everything's thrown at you at once - it's a massive culture shock. You have to get into a way of doing things that other people have been doing for years. And it's finding the confidence to get yourself up and running, but without being over-confident.

What do you like most about teaching?

It sounds really cliched, but being able to give something positive back. I have a bit of a social conscience and if I can influence two or three children in my working career, it's been worth it.

What is your dream job?

I'm interested in the pastoral side, but I haven't decided what I want to do. I want to keep my options open and get a general grounding in teaching before branching out.

Top tip?

Make your own judgments. I find teaching rewarding, but I know other people who have found it stressful. Before you go into it, try to spend time in schools, have a look around, talk to people - everyone has a different perspective.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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