What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join Teach First?
I heard about Teach First through somebody at university and their mission really caught my attention. I have always been passionate about working with people from a variety of backgrounds, especially those that may be disadvantaged and I knew that this would be a very colourful life experience and a half! At this point, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do career-wise, so the fact that the programme is only two years and that it opens up other opportunities after this time was a huge selling point. I also thought that it looked to be the highest quality and most efficient teacher training programme going, through which I would learn so much, so quickly. It did not disappoint!
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment; what are your day-to-day tasks?
At the moment I am the deputy safeguarding lead (DSL) at a school and teacher of science (mainly year 11’s). The teaching role involves the obvious planning, delivery and marking but I also work to develop colleagues through modelling and sharing best practice, mentoring and coaching. My DSL role involves me safeguarding our students both inside and outside of school. Working in inner city London, this definitely keeps me busy and on my toes. I often deal with gang involvement, child sexual exploitation, mental health issues and e-safety around social media. I love collaborating with professionals from so many different agencies within this role e.g. the police, the council and social services, nurses, counsellors, drugs workers, the youth offending team… the list goes on! But most importantly, the students.
How do you manage your dyslexia at work?
I do tend to work longer hours but it’s because I love my job and take on so much! The main thing I try to do is prioritise though, make cutbacks where I can afford to and set myself time limits for tasks. I utilise the wealth of talent around me in my colleagues, share resources wherever possible, keep organised and even do smaller things like bullet point documents instead of writing in prose which I feel is easier to read anyway. Be ruthless where you can be.
What is Teach First’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Teach First and my school worked together to develop a personalised disability support plan for me which included things like deadline extensions for assignments. However, I was fortunate that all my mentors were always incredibly personable and supportive anyway. Within my current school, they ensured that I doubled up on lessons i.e. taught two classes the same content which significantly reduces my planning time, really making a huge difference that I massively appreciate.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
Don’t see it as a disability or ever use it as an excuse, see it as a strength and be bold in choosing pathways and methods that mean you can excel. Be confident in yourself and don’t compare yourself to others, but to the standards you set for you.