Interview: Oliver Offord

3rd June 2011 at 01:00
The winner of the Dream Teachers competition

Who has been your biggest influence?

The mentors and tutors who supported me through the first year were amazing. One in particular would give me lifts home accompanied by motivational pep talks if I was a bit down. My absolute educational hero is author and professor emeritus at the University of Warwick, Sir Ken Robinson.

What has been your career high so far?

Definitely winning the Dream Teachers competition. I was never sure if I was making progress, even when magical classroom moments occurred. Winning an award gave me the confidence to know that I am moving in the right direction.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

In my first term I had a group of pupils banging at my door trying to get their friends out of detention. Then they smashed the fire alarm, and that is when I knew I had no control of the situation. That was a pretty low day.

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

Relax and be yourself. Starting out, I didn't think it could possibly work. How could you relax in front of 30 reluctant teenagers? But as I settled down, the pay-offs were massive. The pupils knew when I wasn't being myself and they responded much better to a more human teacher.

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

I graduated in economics, so the stereotypical thing would have been finance or something in the City. But that would have made me far more unpopular than I am as a teacher.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

Get a take-away and watch a movie. I like winding down.

What car do you drive?

I don't. I opt for some very reliable public transport and during the milder months I cycle.

Where did you last go on holiday?

I took a trip to Barcelona with a couple of other Teach First teachers over Easter. We spent most of the time ambling around the amazing architecture, so it served its purpose.

What was the last book you read?

I find it difficult in the world of blogs, news and Twitter to read anything more than 48 hours old. But I am getting to grips with Work Hard. Be Nice by Jay Matthews about the start of the KIPP schools in the US.

Oliver Offord is a TeachFirst graduate and maths teacher at Balby Carr Community Sports and Science College, Doncaster. He recently won a pound;10,000 prize in a national competition to find Britain's Dream Teachers in conjunction with YouTube and Jamie Oliver.

Original headline: Personally speaking - I know I'm moving in the right direction'

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