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Soma Dey, Primary Teacher

tisdigital 20th November 2020
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Soma Dey is an English as an Additional Language Teacher for the EAL/GDSS Service at Battlefield Primary School. She qualified as a PGDE PRIMARY TEACHER in Strathclyde University.

I was a single mum when I decided to start a BA in Marketing. My intention was to teach the subject after several years in industry. But the experience of going back into education completely changed my life: as my confidence increased I wanted to give back to the community. I ended up, by accident, in a primary school and I decided there and then that the best place to start to have a real impact on the lives of people is by having an influence in a child’s early years.

Studying for my teaching qualification was a stressful and difficult time. I had two young children and decided to cram everything into one year by doing a PGDE. Thankfully, my family supported me. And it was worth it!

My first experience of being in front of a class felt pretty natural. I was super excited to have full autonomy over my own class and I was full of enthusiasm and eager to make the journey fun and full of learning for my pupils.

My headteacher at this time really inspired me. She told me that the children from this school who are in an ethnic minority group would never have seen a young Asian teacher; I was in a position to influence them and be a positive role model. Many of the Asian girls in my class knew nothing more than what their mothers did, which was to be a homemaker. My position may offer them the notion of trying new avenues.

I brought my South Indian Pakistani culture into schools whenever I could link it to an area of the curriculum and add value to the learner’s experience; I sought School Management Team (SMT) support in doing this. I arranged visits to Gurdwaras, opening up the learner’s experience; I did Diwali Assemblies; and arranged International days. I wore my saree at any given occasion, which sometimes shocked, but I was not afraid to show who I was. In fact, I was proud.

Glasgow City Council have always been supportive of taking religious days off – you are entitled to three – and most of my schools were open to this. However, very often I used to feel like I was not entitled to my full three days, as I might upset the other staff and SMT. I do not feel like this anymore.

My advice to people from a BAME background who are considering entering teaching is to be yourself, be proud of your culture, have a voice. Use your ethnic background, culture and knowledge to engage, broaden and add depth to the learner’s experience. It took me a long time to assert my voice but when I did I felt liberated, valuable and part of the team.

Why I love teaching challenges

Scott Sibson 10th December 2019
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“I graduated with a degree in engineering, and was working in sports development and then in sales. I really wanted to challenge myself in an interesting and varied career and I thought ‘what about teaching?’. You need to keep on top of developments and the curriculum, and you’re challenged every day by the great questions young people ask. The job does have its difficulties, like being super organised and keeping on top of work. But it’s ultimately great fun, really interesting and very rewarding whenever you see some of the pupils having a light bulb moment like the great scientists before them once did. Teaching a STEM subject is a great career and I love almost every minute of it.”

Teaching wasn’t my first career

Scott Sibson 10th December 2019
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“I came to teaching after having worked in other jobs and this gave me many transferable skills I could bring to the classroom. I had always enjoyed imparting knowledge, training and counselling staff and knew I wanted to work with young people so teaching felt like the ideal career.

“Being a Home Economics teacher is very rewarding as you are teaching young people essential life skills, giving them the opportunity to learn to cook healthy meals from scratch and, most importantly, showing them the enjoyment this activity can bring.

“If you are considering a career in teaching I would say take some time to come into a school to see what it is really like and speak to teachers about the profession. It is a varied, fast paced job which allows you to work with and have an impact on a large number of young people.”

Teaching is incredibly fulfilling

Scott Sibson 10th December 2019
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“I originally graduated with an honours degree in Fashion Marketing and worked in retail management. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my years working in the fashion industry, I never felt I had the chance to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. I therefore made the life-changing decision to become a teacher and I have never looked back.

“Being a teacher is an exciting career and brings me a real sense of fulfilment. In teaching Home Economics, you are providing valuable lifelong skills and promoting prospective success for all. It is important to me that every pupil I encounter feels valued. I aim to be a role model, encouraging, motivating and inspiring the pupils to become the best version of themselves. If I can make one small difference to their lives, whether that be academically, socially or personally, then that’s something to be celebrated.”

My tips for keeping them interested

Scott Sibson 10th December 2019
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“I worked as an administrative assistant before becoming a teacher but found office work tedious and knew I had more to give. I chose teaching because I really enjoyed working with people and wanted to make a difference to young people’s lives.

“Teaching history can sometimes be quite challenging as students often ask why they need to learn about the past. Once I explain the skills they learn in class are invaluable and show how they’re relevant to future jobs then they do get on board.

“I’m enthusiastic and hardworking and I genuinely care about the students. I’m not just their History teacher but also someone they can confide in and come to if they’re worried about anything. If you’re willing to work hard, can time manage well and are committed to young people then I’d recommend teaching to you. It’s an extremely rewarding career.”

A rewarding and secure career

Scott Sibson 10th December 2019
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“I switched from a career as an electrical engineer to become a Computing teacher after being made redundant. I found the job security very attractive and I also knew I would enjoy the social aspect of teaching, the interaction with pupils, and the variety that their personalities bring to my work. Even after 15 years in the role, I’m still happy with my decision. It’s very rewarding to see pupils develop their skills over their time from S1 to S6. Pupils don’t all learn the same way, which keeps lessons varied as you have to adapt your teaching style for every class and pupil. This makes each day different. New technology also means the Computing course has continually changed over the years and this has driven me to develop and learn new skills in my subject as well.”

Transferring skills from my previous job

Scott Sibson 10th December 2019
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“I’ve always been interested in teaching even when I was working in my previous job as a Marketing Manager. When I did decide to change careers, I was surprised at how many skills were transferable, for example being able to present to big groups of people is the same regardless of the audience. It also helped that my family were very supportive and now they can see the satisfaction I have and understand I couldn’t get the same pleasure from another role.

“As an English teacher, you help develop a young person’s core skills of reading, writing, talking and listening by engaging them with fantastic literature and by embracing and dissecting current affairs. There is so much discussion in an English classroom and, when it’s taught well, pupils love it.

“If you love working with young people and you have a passion for an academic area, do it. Being a teacher is an enormous privilege.”

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