Since this blog post was first published, the term newly qualified teacher (NQT) has been replaced with early career teacher (ECT). This describes a teacher in their first two years of teaching.
Becoming a teacher
I always enjoyed maths at school and had the opportunity to take my maths GCSE early. I went on to study Maths and Management at university, always with the idea that I would go into a leadership or management role, but with no certainty of what industry I would enter.
A few years after I finished university, my old school sent out a letter to former students advertising the School Direct route into teaching. Around the same time, I went to meet one of my friends who was working at a Get Into Teaching event and got chatting about a career in teaching. It seemed like a great opportunity!
I really enjoyed my teacher training. Although I had no experience in the classroom beforehand, I found I settled quite naturally into speaking to pupils at the front of the classroom. I also had a lot of support from my mentors and the maths team.
The numeracy coordinator role was a new one in the school, so I could really make it my own.
In the January of my newly qualified teacher (NQT) year, my school advertised a numeracy coordinator role. The role was all about embedding numeracy into subjects across the whole school. Despite being an NQT, I was keen to progress and had a lot of ideas for the role, so I decided to go for it. I worked hard to prepare and I was so pleased to be offered the job!
The numeracy coordinator role was a new one in the school, so I could really make it my own. I decided to cement numeracy into form time, coming up with activities pupils could do to improve basic skills, and I worked with teachers in different departments to make sure we were being consistent in the way we were teaching maths. I also introduced a maths mastery homework competition across key stage 3. I had a lot of support and encouragement from my mentor and from teaching staff across the school.
My influence and decisions are ultimately impacting on our pupils’ lives and the experience that they have at school.
In my third year I was promoted to second in department and took on more responsibility. I lead meetings, manage the budget, conduct appraisals, and organise ‘learning walks’ to ensure teaching is consistent across the department. This extra work is reflected in my teaching schedule, with reduced classroom hours so that I can manage all the additional tasks.
What I like most about being in a leadership role is having more responsibility for key decisions, improving pedagogy and empowering others. My influence and decisions are ultimately impacting on our pupils’ lives and the experience that they have at school.
The main goal is to help pupils leave school with the best possible GCSE results. Yet teachers are also responsible for producing confident, caring, respectful and well-rounded individuals ready to take the next steps in their educational journeys.
This year I’ve been doing the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL), which has involved running a project across the whole school. This has given me the opportunity to work more closely with the senior leadership team and has helped strengthen my relationships with colleagues in other departments in the school.
My advice for anyone thinking of getting into teaching is to remember that you will make a difference, even though it might be challenging at times!
The best thing about teaching
The best thing about teaching is having a positive impact on pupils’ school experience by helping them to understand maths and enjoy learning about it too! I also enjoy being a form tutor and looking out for pupils’ wellbeing.
Building good relationships with pupils so that they are keen to learn and keep trying even when they find topics challenging is really rewarding. Pupils can have mixed feelings about maths, so it is great when they try really hard and master a new concept.
And finally, I do love the holidays! I try to switch off outside of term time and travel as much as possible.
My advice for anyone thinking of getting into teaching is to remember that you will make a difference, even though it might be challenging at times! When pupils are in your classroom, you have the opportunity to grow their minds and improve their understanding of the world. You are responsible for helping pupils achieve the best possible outcomes and for inspiring them to build their resilience and determination.
If you’ve been inspired by Abigail’s story, find out more about career progression opportunities and teacher pay scales. Or, find out more about becoming a maths teacher.