Simone Holland 11 Feb 2020

Why did you decide to get into teaching?

I aspire to be the teacher I needed when I was at school; someone who openly objects discrimination and one who will give up her ‘free’ time to help students further their mathematical understanding should they wish to also give up their time. Approachable with problems; both personal and professional.

What for you is most rewarding about being a teacher?
The moment that the students ‘get it’ – having worked with students of all abilities, this can be the pride of remembering their times tables or deriving the answer to a complex algebra problem. Either way, the pride or joy that they experience when they succeed… experiencing that with them… it’s amazing!

What are the most challenging aspects?
That the goalposts constantly change – not just with new management or a new school – but with Ofsted frameworks, political agenda and ‘the time’. If I were to teach in the same way I was taught, I doubt it would work for my current students and I strongly believe that I won’t be teaching the same way in ten years time .

What do you think are the most important qualities a teacher should have?
Perspective & reflective: to never think that you’re the perfect teacher, there’s no such thing and to keep learning and reflecting on your practice.
Integrity & balance: not to be biased or to prejudge – to be fair.
Pedagogy and love for your subject: If you don’t enjoy your subject, it’s going to be hard for your students to enjoy it too.

How does it feel when you receive thanks from your students?
It feels amazing. When you can be the only adult in the classroom for an entire day, it’s difficult to always retain the perspective that you are making a difference and that even when talking about maths… it’s possible to build those relationships and let the students know that you care about their progress.

What specifically does receiving this thank you card mean to you?
It was humbling and beautiful; knowing that this pupil went out of her way to acknowledge me. It felt incredible.

What do you hope pupils will learn from this initiative?
Do it! It really makes your teacher’s day – week – month – or year! It’s something to keep close on any difficult days to remind you to smile. Your school years are fleeting but gestures like this will always be remembered.

Do you have any tips for a young person looking to get into teaching?
Speak to multiple people of all ages but most importantly, have an open mind. Prepare yourself to experience things your training could never prepare you for, to roll with the punches, to experience all emotions throughout the day… and if you want every single day to be a new adventure… then teaching is a job you need to seriously consider.