Read about my time as a teacher and why I won't be going back!
Rebecca Bamfield is a Recruitment Consultant at Fellows Finance. She has written this article so that you can learn a little bit more about her.
I’m not sure when I decided I wanted to be a teacher, it just seemed to be a decision I made at college. The teachers at my sixth form really pushed everyone to apply to university but from what I remember, not many people really knew what they wanted to do. I liked the idea of being a teacher, I was good with kids, (what else really mattered?) it was a respectable job and my wage would be pretty good eventually. I began applying to universities and attending interviews. I remember being so nervous and awkward at my first interview. We had to read a section of The Gruffalo (if you haven’t read this you need to!) aloud to a circle of strangers. I was so embarrassed; some people were putting on their scariest Gruffalo voice and I wanted the ground to swallow me up. One thing I came to learn was, acting silly in front of 30 children is fine, acting silly in front of any number of adults is humiliating. It was safe to say I didn’t get a place at that university.
Some time passed and I received my A Level results, I was going to Manchester Metropolitan University to study Primary Education. How exciting! I’d been doing some work experience beforehand and loved being in schools, I couldn’t wait to be a teacher. The first day of university was a little daunting, I didn’t know a soul and didn’t live in the usual halls of residence so had no friends to travel with. I spotted a girl on the bus, I’m not sure how but I just knew we were going to be friends. I did the only thing that I could do in this situation – made sure I found a seat next to her inside. It worked out well for me, she happened to be in lots of my classes and is going to be my bridesmaid later this year!
The university course was strange. We would have 3 hours long classes instructing us on how to clap rhythms or how to make puppets and clay models. What I learned didn’t correlate with the money I was paying for the course, the tutors seemed to teach us how to be children rather than how to teach children. I would have rather have been in bed most of the time. After all, I could have easily searched on line on how to clap ‘frog, tadpole, frog, frog.’ Although this was the case with my course, we were able to gain practical experience teaching children on a variety of school placements. Looking back now, they did not prepare us for the hell of the real thing.
After university I moved back home to Pontefract for a month where I continued my student job as a lifeguard. Rather than applying for teaching jobs like my friends, I was preparing for a 4-month trip around South East Asia. It was the best time of my life, I came back more than a stone heavier and was so sick of sleeping on mattresses slept on by an average of 5000 people, I thought I was ready to settle down and get a full-time job. I arrived back from the trip in January and began working as a supply teacher. Obviously, I needed money after the trip so when an opportunity came up for a long-term position at a school, I jumped at the chance. A recruitment consultant set me up for the job, failing to mention that I was about to be teaching the worst class out of the 21 in the school. Three teachers had left them since September due to their behaviour. I had no idea what I’d gotten myself in to, and I’ve definitely learnt a lesson from that recruitment consultant!
As a new teacher there’s a million and one things to learn, this school was not the place where I was going to learn a thing. I only had a TA for the mornings, which would have been fine if there wasn’t a child in the class who regularly produced number twos during class time, or another child who threw chairs at people at every opportunity. I found myself regularly hanging out of the door hoping that someone would walk by and rescue me from the disaster unfolding. After around three weeks and at least 10 crying sessions after school, the local authorities came to visit the school. This, and the dreaded Ofsted visit, are when even resilient teachers begin to crumble. Everyone was panicking.
I had a strong word with the children that morning, bribery is usually the way forward to get what you need from them. Obviously, the visit was falling on an afternoon when I had no TA so I explained to the class how they could benefit from great behaviour when our ‘special visitors’ arrived. What was I thinking? They didn’t care. I honestly remember looking up at this class in front of me and completely surrendering. I may as well have held my hands up and told them they’d won. One child was throwing rubbers across the classroom, another swearing, another about to start a fight with a child across the room. I could see the visitors’ faces in absolute horror and felt so helpless. I sat down at one table and pretended I couldn’t see what was happening with the rest of the children. It was such a terrible approach to teaching, I had no idea what else to do. I think it’s pretty obvious that I left that school that night.
Now this could have, and should have, put me off teaching for life. However, I’d spent four years at university for this career, I needed to pick myself up and search for an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) job to start in September. I was low in confidence by this point but somehow, at my first interview I managed to bag myself a job in a year 3 class which was super close to my home.
Perfect, I could finally be a real teacher…