From Behind the Camera To The Front Of The Classroom

I can remember the first time I ever considered teaching as a legitimate career option. Before this, it was as if teachers were from another planet; their career wasn’t a job, they just… existed. 

I was 16 and studying my GCSEs at school and I was fortunate enough to have rough ideas of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I think my main ambition at that point was to be an actor and I was part of all sorts of acting groups. 

The reason I first thought about teaching as a possibility was because of my drama teacher. In him I saw somebody who enjoyed coming to work to do the thing he enjoyed the most and I could see myself in his position, teaching drama to my own class. He was passionate about sharing his experience with other people, something I very much enjoyed doing as well.

The crucial time came in which I had to make my choices for A-levels which were, at the time, very limited. Remaining interested in drama, I chose to study Theatre studies and Media studies which looked equally as fun. Additionally, I chose maths because I’d always had a particular interest in maths and English as a tactical choice; I knew that it would be useful for any career path I may choose in future. As time went on my growing interest in filmmaking was becoming a priority and my attention to amateur dramatics was slipping. 

I have to admit, by the last year of studying A levels, my enthusiasm for learning had almost vanished. For whatever reason, perhaps the pressures of choices at this age, I was rapidly losing interest in my own education, I was becoming lazy and lethargic and my grades were dropping. 

Regardless, I applied to study Film, Radio and Television at Canterbury Christ Church University, leaving my initial plans with drama behind and got accepted onto the course. This was a fresh start for me, I was finally moving away to focus on the one thing that retained my interest throughout my later teens. University was such an important part of my life; the independence and higher level education taught me more about myself than ever before. 

I finished my degree with an upper 2:1, a mere 1% from a first class degree! I quickly started applying for jobs, work experience and internships within the media industry and was lucky enough to gain some freelancing work with a local production company. I also kept a job at Tesco, a job that I’d obtained in the summer after my A levels, in order to keep the money coming in regularly as a permanent job in the media industry eluded me. 

However, around Christmas time of 2013, I thought I’d hit the jackpot as I managed to get myself a 3-month unpaid internship at a special effects editing company in London. Ironically, it was this experience that forced me to sit down one evening and re-think what I really wanted to do. This wasn’t the dream I was expecting it to be. Was I enjoying this career path or was I just doing it because I’d devoted three years at university to it? I was so unsure of myself.

I’d had it so set in my mind that teaching was for later in life when you had gained experience in your field and had a wealth of knowledge about a particular subject to share. It took me weeks to even realise it was a viable option for me right then because I had never considered primary teaching, opposed to teaching a specialty at secondary level, until I spoke to a friend who was studying to be a teacher herself. 

Upon this epiphany and with little hesitation, I contacted the primary school that I attended, only down the road from where I lived, to see if I could volunteer in the school. I had no idea how I’d feel, my prediction was that I’d find working with lots of young children quite unnerving and perhaps not within my comfort zone. My only experience of primary education was the time I spent there as a child, so my memories of it were warped and biased towards being a young child. 

Within two weeks of volunteering as a teaching assistant I had overcome the initial nerves of working with children and felt a happiness and satisfaction that I had not felt since I lost the drive in my last year of A levels. I was lucky enough to be working in a classroom with a fantastic and supportive teacher who told me exactly how it was (no sugarcoating), and provided me with the confidence I needed to push myself in what, for once, felt like was the right direction. 

After a few more months of volunteering my mind had been made up; I applied to go back to university and study the one year PGCE to become a teacher myself.

I believe that without the volunteering experience I had gained, I would not be where I am today. If I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone and just do it, I would still be convincing myself that I wanted to follow a career path that perhaps I didn’t. 

Not a day has passed by since I applied for teacher training where I have regretted the decision. Regardless of what we hear in the media or on social media sites, teaching is the most fantastic and rewarding job I can think of. Yes it’s hard, yes the hours are much longer than you think and yes the marking isn’t always fun, but to see the smile on a child’s face after you teach them something they never knew before is worth it, every time.

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