Ready, steady, teach - Down to earth with a few bumps

17th October 2008 at 01:00
When I started my PGCE course and met the other students, they had all either started straight after completing their degree, or after a few years working as a teaching assistant. When I was asked what I'd done since graduating, I'd told them I had left a job with an airline working as an air hostess. It wasn't the answer many of them were expecting.

Although my background may not seem relevant, it came in handy when the pupils were studying Italy and one asked me how long it would take to get to Venice. "Two hours 10 minutes," I promptly replied. The pupil gave me a rather bemused look and asked no further questions.

I thought I'd have an advantage as I knew exactly how to handle it if they started kicking the seats in front of them, being sick or leaving mobile phones switched on. Luckily it hasn't got that bad yet.

I also felt I had gained plenty of experience of long hours, always being on my feet and constant questions. Forget the constant pushing of trolleys up and down the aisle on a packed flight to Malaga with the dinging of call bells in my ear; the exhausting circulating the classroom to make sure pupils were on task and questions about "What time is it?" and sometimes "Where am I?" often made me question which environment I was in.

One similarity I don't mind is the pupils thanking me for a nice lesson, just like the passengers who had enjoyed the flight, and they are always more than willing to let you know when they haven't enjoyed it.

I never thought there would be so many similarities, and I am glad I made the right decision in leaving an airline for teaching. I have found a career that can be a bit bumpy at times, but has the potential to really take off.

Sarah Smith is an NQT at the Royal Hospital School in Ipswich.

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