No man is an island and neither is a Teach Firster. Once you’re part of our community you’re never short of a friendly face who knows exactly what you’re going through (the good bits and the not-so-good bits). We found out how some of our ambassadors are staying in touch.
Harry Spencer hits the slopes
“I made some pretty solid friendships at Summer Institute so we stay in touch and meet up regularly. I am in a football team with a few and we go on a ski trip every year. It’s something we all make sure we can make, as it's so good to catch up with old Teach First friends we don't see very often.
“There have been so many standout moments from the trip. For a start my friend Luca always turns up in a Sunderland shirt that’s four sizes too small. He also once complained about the quality of the snow before immediately losing control of his skis and ploughing into a queue waiting for the ski lift.
“Staying in touch is so valuable. It helps keep the job in perspective and it’s really useful to hear how other schools do certain things, especially if like me you’ve stayed in the one school for your whole career.” Emma Goddard makes for the stage “I’m part of the Primary Network which offers fantastic continued professional development (CPD) opportunities to teachers beyond the two year Leadership Development Programme, as well as informal events where you can make new friends and share ideas and best practice. It’s nice to have people to talk to who know all about the highs and lows you might be going through.
“We’d heard about a play about autism in children called We Live By The Sea, that had been at the Edinburgh Festival and travelled to New York, Australia and London. A lot of our teachers work with young people with autism, and we wanted to offer some CPD on this topic, but in a slightly more alternative and enjoyable way. So we organised for 20 primary teachers to see it in London. “The way in which autism was brought to life so vividly during the performance was incredibly moving and made the teachers really understand what a huge role they can play in the lives of young people who are dealing with these challenges.”
Ed James goes back in time over dinner
“The history dinner is one way I’ve stayed in touch with my friends in the 2009 history cohort. We were idealist historians who bonded at the Summer Institute over the lack of success of our initial teaching efforts, a Battle of Hastings re-enactment and frequent renditions of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire (don’t ask).
“We stayed in touch through subject studies days and then someone had the brainwave of creating our own history dinner so we could still get together, talk shop and sing Billy Joel. They’re still going strong and are as vibrant/geeky as ever (we’ve introduced a favourite Horrible Histories clip feature). They’ve also led to really useful collaborations and sharing of resources, showing that social networks like this allow people to combine in unexpected and exciting ways.”
Jyoti Carswell gets involved in punctuation kung fu
“Teachmeets are informal professional development meetings organised by subject or region – usually involving wine and nibbles – where teachers can share experiences and network, as well as catch up with old faces and meet new ones.
“I help run one for English teachers, so we might chat about a good text or poem we’ve used or arrange for a speaker to talk to us – Phil Beadle who taught on Channel 4’s The Unteachables recently came in to chat to us about punctuation kung fu [a game that combines martial arts with apostrophes and semi-colons].
“It’s great to have that network to fall back on, which people who haven’t been on the Teach First programme don’t necessarily have. If I am having a challenge at school there is usually someone who can help me deal with it and if, say, I’m interviewing for a job at a new school, I’ll ask if there’s anyone who works there already who can give me the lowdown.”