I was 14 years old and knew I wanted to teach. However, at the time I also wanted to work in Papa New Guinea with Orangutans and go to the Congo to work with Silverbacks ... but bear with me.
All the teachers I used to model myself on all shared two things in common - they were super-duper easy to relate to and were intensely passionate about what they taught; without knowing it, they became my role models. My first 'favorite' was 'Ms I' from high school. A tall and beautiful woman with a slightly odd-matched Bradford accent, she has a wicked sense of humor and a perfected death-stare. She taught me Media Studies and Drama and I have no question what so ever that it was her role as my teacher that had a huge impact on me achieving some of the highest grades I got at GCSE (A/A*).
Her delivery was thorough and wide in scope, transporting us outside the classroom without leaving our desks. Her discussions were informative, considerate and relative to us, as young women of the world and her feedback on any submitted work was extensive - I can remember an essay on the social connotations of Billy Elliot being handed back to me again and again, each time with more annotations so I could achieve the grade we both knew I wanted and was capable of getting. I admire her determination not to let go and her self-sacrificing nature to any cause she's involved with.
'Mr M', from my 6th form college was again, so dedicated to what he did. A tall northern lad who grew up in Benchill, he sounded and spoke just like us - 'proper manc, init'. His classes were always punctuated with a wit that I miss. A standard that I have mistakenly judged all my classes since his with and none, sadly, have managed to meet. He was the person who really sold Sociology to me. He'd just hit you with so many instances where it was relevant even when your mind was far from social stratification and family statistics. He used to get really into some issues in class, that if I was lucky enough to sit at the front (!), I could see tiny bubbles of saliva leave his mouth and happily find a place on my handouts - his words could not leave his mouth fast enough.
He was the teacher with the stories, like real funny stories. I felt like I knew him, his fiancée, his mum, dad and brother almost personally - he was so open and appropriate at the same time. At the same time! I find it incredible that then, so early in his teaching career, he had already mastered the skill of giving but not giving too much of himself away, making him incredibly easy for me and my peers to relate to and approach. I respect him for that.
'Mr M' was also the tutor that first suspected my dyslexia and did everything he needed to get me screened and diagnosed and then went way further than was required of him, for me to have the support I needed. Needless to say, I left college with good grades and enhanced confidence in my own work, thanks to Mr M's input.
Training to teach now, I see all the effort and time invested by both my teachers and as I've gone through education, realised that there is nothing else I would want to invest myself into more; the development of learners into free-thinking and passionate individuals.
However, my situation isn't the same for everyone. I went through secondary education, college and got to university with very few set backs (I have a marvelous mother to thank for that) but for those that do have set backs and are held back by structural inequalities - What's their reality? Where's their chance to meet and have teachers like I did, who acted as role models for me and offered guidance? That's why I wanted to work within further education.
Students in Further Education represent choice. A choice they made to take up education for varieties of reasons. The scope of backgrounds that students in FE come from paired with my chosen discipline (Sociology) means I would have, upon encounter, chances to become what I once had and will be forever thankful for - a positive role model to others that I hope, represents opportunity.
Posted by Charlotte Forshaw
Click here to read Charlotte's blog Trainee Teacher Tango