The Head of Science inspiring students in Blackpool

Published 9 February 2022
By Jessica Walmsley

Jessica Walmsley, Head of Science.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I wanted a job that would have a genuine impact on the lives of others. As a teacher you have the opportunity to greatly influence the path a child takes in life and this is particularly important to me working in Blackpool. I wanted to share my love of learning and education and give the children I teach in Blackpool the best possible start to their adult lives. I wanted to help prepare them for their futures, find their passions to set them on a career path, and give them the confidence to pursue and achieve their goals.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I work better in the morning so I arrive at school between 7:15am and 7:30am. School starts at 8:50am with my year 11 form, followed by 5 lessons during the day. As Head of Department, I’m lucky that I get time to go in to science lessons throughout the day to experience the learning taking place and to talk to the students. I also spend a lot of time during lesson change overs welcoming students to their lessons and checking if they are having a good day. Those little conversations and being visible to students are so important.

How do you bring your passion for science to the classroom?

For any subject, particularly at secondary, I think it’s important to show students how the subject is relevant to their everyday life. In science especially, the discipline outside of school is always evolving and changing. I love bringing real life science stories into the classroom so students can have discussions and build knowledge of the world around them.

What are your biggest challenges?

Being a teacher does not simply involve being in the classroom teaching – you’re a mentor, a counsellor, a shoulder to cry on, a mediator, a first-aider, a role model. It is a challenge at first to become effective in all of these areas on top of your everyday role. It eventually becomes just part of your job and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to support students’ wellbeing as well as providing them with a quality education.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the job is being in the classroom, without a doubt. There’s nothing better than those light bulb moments when students just ‘get it’, or when they are successful at a task or score amazingly on a test and they’re really proud of themselves. Making progress with some of your hardest to reach students is also one of the main reasons I love my job. Often when year 11 leave, they thank you for your help in getting them the grades to go to college or get an apprenticeship, and you know that all the hard work was worth it.

Who is your science heroine?

Rosalind Franklin, who made huge contributions to the understanding of DNA structure yet received no recognition for her work until after she died. Her data was used as the basis of another study by other scientists who went on to receive a Nobel Prize. Also Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who worked on NASA’s space missions. She solved equations by hand for rocket launches and trajectories to get them to launch and land in the right places, and I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that would be!

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