Teacherhood: Episode 1
Wondering what it's like to be on Teach First's Training Programme? Get a glimpse into life as a trainee teacher in our YouTube series.
Teacherhood is a YouTube series about three teacher trainees – Claire O’Flaherty, who teaches primary in London, Ruth Muleya, who teaches English in Grays, and Toby Clarke, who teaches maths in Cambridge. The series will follow for two years as they learn to teach on our programme. We’ll see them develop from their first term and see just what it takes to become a great teacher.
I didn't go to uni until I was 25, because I didn't think that I was capable of going to uni. There is a child in my class that reminds me of me, super distracted and not engaged. I remember lots of shouting and being kept behind.
At 25 I was doing property management, working in Canary Wharf, and I thought "this is not my life", so I decided to go to uni. I found, with independent learning, that I was really learning and really interested. At school, I just didn't think I was capable and I think that's why I was so interested in doing teaching – because every child is capable and it would be really nice to have that effect on someone that had an experience like mine.
I didn't go to uni until I was 25, because I didn't think that I was capable of going to uni. There is a child in my class that reminds me of me.
I did applied theatre and education, I did a lot of theatre work. A lot of teaching is theatre – you are acting the whole time. It's nice having small people rely on you rather than shouty adults.
I couldn't have done a course where I wasn't paid, I'm a mature student. I'm 30 years old and can't change my career and earn 15-16 grand – I wouldn't be able to live. I think it encourages people from poorer backgrounds like myself to pursue these things.
I was going to do pharmacy and I had my place ready when I was in my final year of A levels, when I was sitting in a chemistry lesson and thought 'I hate this'. So on that same day I spoke to my career adviser, changed my course and went to do English at Kent – I couldn't believe how relieved I was. All that time I was so stressed and it was because I actually wanted to do English.
I thought I was going to apply for teaching at that point but I talked myself out of it – I'd heard it was too intense, and about the workload. I ended up getting a job in a tuition centre. Alongside management, I did a little bit of tutoring, which I really enjoyed. Then I got promoted but with the promotion, I couldn't work with kids any more. I thought I would enjoy it but I didn't, so I changed jobs and ended up at a school as a business manager, doing the same things – handling money, going to meetings – and I hated that even more.
I remember going to lunch with one of the teachers and talking to her and saying, "I really miss working with kids." She said, "It sounds like you want to be a teacher", and I had the same feeling I had when a friend told me that I didn't want to do pharmacy, I wanted to do English.
I remember going to lunch with one of the teachers and talking to her and saying, I really miss working with kids.
A teacher can make a difference to a child’s whole educational experience. Where they are doesn’t really matter, it is just whether the teacher in front of them cares enough to give them the education that every child deserves.
I worked in an office and you would sit and watch the clock. I quite like being on my feet and engaging with students and adults so the days now fly by. Having worked before I think I was a little bit more prepared for the early hours than I would have been straight out of uni, but I've realised that the pressures on teachers – not necessarily me at the moment – but having looked at what other teachers do, the amount of time they put in, you realise that it is a profession of people that just care. It's opened my eyes a lot to what education actually means to my students.
having looked at what other teachers do, the amount of time they put in, you realise that it is a profession of people that just care
When I was at university I was an engineering student and a STEM ambassador, and we used to do outreach programmes – we would take 20-30 students from local schools and they would try the wind tunnels and other equipment, they would see the 3D printers, and they used to love it. I couldn't believe I was getting paid for it, it was the easiest job I ever had because I am very passionate about engineering and you have all these kids coming in and they ask you questions and get all excited and that's when I first thought, "I actually quite like this." I had a manager there who pointed me in the direction of Teach First.
I try to give it (learning maths) context. The most common question I get is "why are we doing this?", so in a lot of my classes I've challenged students and said you can ask me at any point what job this is for and if someone challenges me I will always come back and give an example of a job it could be used for.