My name is Avenesh Mahtani and I graduated from QMUL’s School of Business and Management in 2010 with 1st Class Honours. Since 2010, I have been working as a teacher in Germany. Having worked in adult education until 2016, I changed to primary school teaching in 2017 and have worked at an international school teaching various subjects in English since then.
Although I am not a parent, I spend my day taking care of multiple young dependent individuals who look up to me. Having spent 6 years teaching Business English, the move into primary school education was a big one. However, it has also been a beneficial one, as it has allowed me to further develop my skills. Below I share my experiences of what to expect:
Qualifications: In addition to teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree, useful qualifications to have when teaching abroad in English include a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification and a variety of teaching qualifications offered by the British Council, which are specifically tailored for teachers looking to work abroad.
The Role Model: Children need good role models at school who can help them differentiate between right and wrong, as they continue to develop their moral compass. This means that as a teacher, you need to be more aware of the examples you set. Having good role models at this age can help children get through their formative years better if they have been provided with a solid foundation and it is something of which you can be a vital part.
Feminine/Maternal Influence: Working as part of a male minority in a female-dominated environment causes some male teachers to feel isolated. However, male teachers can also provide a vital paternal influence to the school environment. In a society in which many households are led by single mothers, this can be a very positive contribution to children, who do not grow up with a father figure in their lives.
Patience & Nurture: Being a teacher requires an abundance of patience. Young children are very clingy and dependent, while older children start questioning the decisions made by teachers. Nurturing children is also part of the job and for those who consider becoming parents one day, it is a great way to determine whether parenthood is something you should seriously contemplate. If yes, it gives you a great head start should you ever become a parent compared to your friends, who have never dealt with the tantrums and tummy aches which you tackle every day. Additionally, being more patient and nurturing makes you a better person when facing life’s daily challenges.
Stability: As organisations continue to cut costs by downsizing, school teachers, to a large extent, still have job security. Not only do teachers provide the next generation with numerical and literacy skills, their supervision of children allows parents to go out and work. Additionally, a better educated generation of children provides a better economic future for all, which makes this job more worthwhile, as you are also investing in your own future.
The Job Identity: Being a teacher creates a unique job identity, which will change you both within and outside the classroom. Working with children is a job that requires great discipline, focus and organisational skills, similar to running an organisation. These are all valuable life skills and being able to handle demanding parents and children (including playground and canteen fights) is also a great way of improving one’s negotiation and customer relationship management skills, skills typically used and valued by people in various business sectors. Therefore, working in a primary school can also provide an opportunity to develop both job-specific and transferable skills. The skills that I had learnt in my degree, both practically and theoretically, have stood me in good stead in my teaching roles.
There are moments in this job when one is confronted with perceivably silly comments, such as: ‘He sneezed or she yawned’ and you are inclined to reply: ‘What should I do?’ However, there are also those penny-dropping moments, which really make the job very rewarding. If you try it, you might even find you have a knack for it.
To find out more about the routes into teaching, see this helpful overview from AGCAS.