Make a difference to young people

A photograph of Sarah Birt

Sarah Birt,
Career changer

Having completed a degree in psychology, my initial plans were to be a clinical psychologist. I had never really considered teaching as a career option. It was only after becoming a mental health researcher and discovering how much I enjoyed working with young people that I realised I might be even happier in teaching.

I loved working with young people and loved building relationships with them. There were adolescents that were suffering from quite bad depression and anxiety disorders and I loved helping them. I also really enjoyed training people, so I thought if I became a teacher I could get more involved with young people at an earlier age, motivate them and get them more engaged in school.

When I decided to become a teacher I thought I’d better make sure that it really was what I wanted to do and I thought there’d be no better way than going into some schools.

After a few weeks observing lessons and speaking to students, I was convinced and decided to teach maths. I successfully applied for teacher training, but was advised to first complete a subject knowledge enhancement course (SKE) to make the transition from psychology to maths smoother.

It was 6 months and online, which was good because it meant I could work at the same time as studying. I took part in online lectures and completed practice questions to buff up my knowledge. This made me feel better prepared for what lay ahead.

I recommend getting experience before making any decisions. Go and suss it out; go into a school and see what it’s like. It’s not for everyone. Make sure it’s definitely something you want to commit quite a lot of your time to, before you take the next step going into it.

I am already leading GCSE classes with confidence and responsible for a tutor group. I couldn’t be happier that I pursued teaching as a career. I love being a tutor. It’s amazing. The children are so smiley in the morning. I love seeing them in the corridor, when they are really happy to see you.

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