Road to wisdom: the spectrum of experience

30th September 2005 at 01:00
After 28 years in teaching, Chrissie Yates believes she can now achieve what she wants in the classroom.

At five feet tall, the 50-year-old head of English at Darton high, in Barnsley, is often mistaken for a primary teacher, but she teaches teenage boys who tower above her.

"It's about making them realise you've learnt your craft," she said.

"You've got to put in the work and the time. Then, somewhere along the line, you click with pupils."

But not all teachers reach this stage. She has seen numerous colleagues succumb to self-doubt and disillusionment. But Ms Yates's career has come full circle: she now has the same dream of making a difference with which she started out as a young teacher.

"I want to create a positive learning environment, and I want to be someone staff can trust," she said. "I have more of a fantasy of what I can do in the job than ever before. But I have the experience to realise it now."

Matt Warren, head of music at Nower Hill comprehensive, north London, knows about the struggle for work-life balance. As an NQT, he would often work till midnight. But five years on, the 32-year-old has other priorities.

Three weeks ago, his wife gave birth to a baby boy.

"It would have been very, very stressful to have a baby earlier," he said.

"Now, I've learnt to manage my time better. You get better at doing things in the time you have.

"I'm more comfortable with the curriculum, and with what pupils in our school enjoy. So you can monitor and evaluate what you've done each year.

You think, 'What didn't work? What can I do to improve that?'"

Jo Davis would like to be the sort of teacher pupils remember when they grow up.

The 25-year-old has just started training as a primary teacher at Derby university. She has yet to set foot inside a classroom, but she already knows what she wants from her career.

"If you work hard as a teacher, and try your best to get through to the children, that's enough," she said. "You will make a difference. And that eureka moment, when children have been struggling with a concept and then get it, is the best feeling in the world."

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