Case Study: Primary Teacher - Ramon

What do you do?

I'm a primary teacher who teaches Year 6. I teach the National Curriculum, maintain control (you can't teach children if they're not under control) and try to provide a cheerful atmosphere in which to learn. I also mark the pupils' work and tests, and report their progress through written reports and parents' evenings.

But, teachers are responsible for more than just teaching the National Curriculum. They teach a wide range of skills that enable young people to become good members of society.

What is your background?

I did all kinds of jobs before and during university. I worked in a fast food restaurant, as a car park attendant and in a theme park.

When I finished my degree in maths, my thoughts kept returning to my own school days. Even though most of the children in my school were from ethnic minorities, there were very few non-white teachers, and I recognised the need for more teachers of African descent in our school system.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

Students have a variety of backgrounds. They behave differently in social situations, and have different rates of learning. Patience is needed to manage this and to make sure no one is left behind. You have to get to know them and understand them.

Of course, to do that, you have to really like children. Otherwise, it can be hard to get through the day.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

There are other ways to work with children apart from being a teacher, even within the school system. After they have gained more experience, some teachers go on to become head teachers.

Teaching is partly communication of information and partly organisation of activities. With your experience of getting children involved in activities, you could become a co-ordinator at a community centre. You could also use your managing skills to move into administration.

What changes will there be in the future?

There will undoubtedly be more use of computers and the internet. But I don't think this will replace teacher-pupil interaction.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

It's difficult to keep one or two pupils focused and behaved, let alone 30! Some of them don't want to be there, and it's hard to keep them on one task long enough for them to learn something. That's my daily struggle.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

You need to get a teaching qualification to become a primary teacher. The contacts you make through teaching practice on your course might be helpful in getting your first job. These contacts can act as references when you're looking for work.

What do you like about your job?

I really like spending time with children in class. You see them develop and learn, and you enjoy their success.

And it's also good to know that you're affecting their lives in a positive way. Some children aren't given a lot of positive feedback, so it's good to have somebody at school that can really make a difference by being there for them.

Even if you don't get through to them academically, you can sometimes help them in other areas of their lives where they have problems. And helping children to develop life skills is really important.

What do you dislike about your job?

One thing I don't like about the job is that you have no time to yourself. From the second you step into the building, you're in demand. You have 30 pupils saying "She hit me, he teased me, can I have help with this, can I have help with that?" And it never stops, so you don't really get time to sit down and think.

Also, the social work aspect of it is difficult to handle. I spend time breaking up fights or sometimes dealing with children who haven't been fed properly, or are in an abusive situation at home. And these things are really hard to deal with.

And the last thing I'd have to say is marking. It can get tedious and very time-consuming.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

It's really important that you have a purpose and that you love working with children. If you don't, you won't survive for long in this work.

A day in the life

8:45 am - 9:15 am

Greeting students and taking the register.

9:15 am - 11:45 am

Teaching three 50-minute classes in maths, English and science.

11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Lunch and supervising the dining room.

12:45 pm - 3:00 pm

Supervising a reading period in the library and teaching students how to do book reports.

3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Planning for the next day: planning classes, making photocopies and marking essays.

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