Leaping into education

27th June 2008 at 01:00
Teaching was always a profession I was intent on avoiding
Teaching was always a profession I was intent on avoiding. My mother has taught for more than 30 years and I never intended to follow in her footsteps. I always have a tinge of envy when I speak to colleagues who genuinely say they chose a career in teaching.

But after completing an EAL (English as an additional language) qualification post degree, and spending six months in Thailand teaching English in Bangkok (an excuse to go on a prolonged holiday), I signed up with an agency and worked as an unqualified teacher on my return. Thus my CV became, unintentionally, education orientated.

I only signed up with the agency because the money was better than any office temp job. The work came in nicely once the clocks changed in October, as I was advised it would by the savvy agency worker who knew about teacher absenteeism.

I was able to secure a long-term supply position at a local comprehensive, to tide me over while I searched for a "proper job" - preferably a graduate scheme. Things went well, I was offered a place on the Graduate Teacher Programme by the school, to gain Qualified Teacher Status. I was enjoying it, so why not? I wanted to live in a big city, so I found a similar role that would support my training in Manchester.

This is a new ball game. Target mad, statistic mad, C-grade mad: the behaviour management strategy is based on "get the learning right and the behaviour will follow" and pupils are given an immediate task rather sitting silently for the register. In my first year of training I'm already a pessimist, harping back to my schooldays.

The best thing that has come from this has been the empathy with my mother, who worked in a tough (or should I say challenging) inner-city comprehensive for years.

Despite this, it was my father who got home three hours later who I thought had the rough end of the deal. How wrong could I be? Still, it's getting easier, and the staffroom clique has started to talk to me.

Behaviour in my lessons has improved, as I have been tackling non-uniform jumpers, MP3 players and the dreaded mobile phones. My head of department is moving to a new school, so I applied for his position. From an unsure start, I will be subject leading the citizenship curriculum from September. It has truly been a big turn-around.

Martyn Daniels is on the Graduate Teacher Programme at a school in Manchester.

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