Recently I stopped to reflect on my seven years of teaching experience and it dawned on me that every new year I have taken on a new role. Not once have I started an academic year with the same exact same job description as the year before. For someone like me who get bored easy and loves a challenge it’s been great. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been given the opportunity to gain experience in a wide range of roles both academic and pastoral. Applying for an Assistant Head of Year role in my second school filled me with dread I have to admit. Although this was only my second year of teaching I firmly knew I wasn’t the ‘pastoral’ type. However, I knew I was ready for more experience and had to take my chances when they arose so I went for it. Yes, I found it challenging at first – everyone is different, every situation novel, and I hated not having a set formula to follow on how to deal with this things (that’s the mathematician in me). But as the year progressed, and I worked closely with the Head of Year and Key Stage Manage,r I began to love the role. I was able to get to know the students as individuals, to make a difference, to support them through tough times. Without this, I would never have had the confidence or skills required to apply for a Head of Sixth Form role, a role I carried out for three years and absolutely loved.
Whilst Assistant Head of Year I was also appointed More Able and Talented Co-ordinator. This was my first real taste of whole-school teaching and learning and I relished the challenge of working with Heads of Departments and analysing data. This I’ve come back to in my Assistant Head role and I’ve drawn on that experience when creating our new Assessment and Tracking system and the new ‘Excellence Pathway’ which offers enrichment opportunities for all.
This year I have volunteered to teach key stage 1 and 2 PE. Three weeks in I can definitely say it’s a completely different experience – but in a good way. I’m learning where the students I normally teach started, how to teach brand new skills and how to adapt my language. It’s great fun and I hope the girls are enjoying my lessons too!
All of these experiences: pastoral, academic and even my one year stint doing cover(!), have given me a greater understanding of how a school operates and I believe they have made me much more effective in my role now. I think it is important not to just take any role offered to you but my advice would be – don’t close doors too soon, gain as much experience as you can in a wide range of school settings. It makes you a much well-rounded teacher and you might surprise yourself!