New face

9th May 2003 at 01:00
Name Dipa Makwana

Age 23

Current post Newly qualified science teacher, teaching at St Peter's RC high school in Manchester

After my A-levels I did a degree in genetics at the University of Manchester. For part of the degree I took a year out, working for six months at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, and the rest doing DNA sequencing at Pendlebury hospital in Manchester.

But from then on I decided I didn't want to do a PhD and work in a laboratory for the rest of my life. It was very routine and repetitive; I was doing the same thing every day and didn't have much contact with people.

I really wanted to use my science skills, so in my final year at university I applied to do teaching. I've got an older brother who's a primary teacher, so I knew what the profession entailed.

I was attracted by the stability of the job and the fact that it would be more challenging than laboratory work. I'd always enjoyed science and had been good at it from when I was a first-year secondary pupil; I love the fact that it's so hands-on. I did a PGCE at Sheffield University and now I'm newly qualified, teaching science.

There have been highs and lows during my first year in the classroom. I had one boy who was in the bottom set and I got him moved up a class. He'd worked so hard with me, and I put in a lot of praise and referral for him to get him moved up to a higher set, which I felt really good about.

But we do get some challenging behaviour. I was teaching a Year 7 class recently and two girls were fighting in the lesson. I'd brought in some posters because we'd just moved to a new building, and these two girls ripped them up. I got really wound up and had to leave the room; the head of year had to come in. I have since sorted it out with the girls and got them to pay for the posters.

I try not to let the few mess it up for the rest; I don't let them pull me down. With teaching, I like the fact that every day is different, and I love having more and more contact with the pupils. I love doing assignments with the first-year pupils; they get so excited when they know they're going to be doing a practical. I love that reaction.

You have to be very committed to teaching because there's a lot of work outside school time. I've learned that you have to be very open-minded and patient with the children, always be open to what they're saying, not be one-sided, to treat everyone as equal, and not to label them.

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