Sarah has unlocked her potential as a successful Secondary school teacher, after her ambitions to own a dance and drama school were sadly quashed due to injury. We spoke to her about how she now shares her passion for performing arts within the classroom to inspire her students.
Sarah joined CER at the height of the Covid pandemic, working across all subjects and specialising in dance, PE and Drama. She has had a very different teaching experience at the start of her career compared to others.
She said: ‘’I qualified as Covid started, which is quite unlucky really! But I have had a different insight into how schools work and how differently they have handled the changes, but they have handled them really well. It’s been a real eye-opener.’’
Although Sarah has always wanted to teach, she didn’t aspire to do so in a school setting. However, she was inspired to follow this career path after her best friend sadly passed away. She adds: “It was always her dream to go into teaching. So when my dream of teaching dance was ruined, I wanted to take her experiences and change the face of performing arts within education.’’
Sarah stands to make an impact on her students and allow them to believe in any student that felt they weren’t listened to, or who couldn’t achieve their dreams.
“I wanted to be THAT teacher that believed the student could achieve whatever they wanted. You can do it so go and do it! I do want to teach, I just want to be a different type of teacher – not the stereotypical teacher that you would expect.’’
Supply teaching has always been a great option for Sarah, using it as a stepping stone in her career and opening doors to a range of different teaching environments. One particular class stands out for her as a big achievement.
“I had a student who hated maths. For the first 2 weeks, she didn’t survive one hour and she kept getting kicked out of lesson. By the last 2 weeks of my placement, she was present in every lesson. It was about creating a different view for the student and preventing distraction so that if she sees it this way, she might be able to get it.
It got to the point where the Head of Year came to me and asked ‘What have you done with her? She hasn’t sat in a full lesson in the 2 years she has been here’. It was nice to see something click. It doesn’t matter how long I am in supply, or how long you are with a student, it could only take an hour to inspire someone.’’
Seeing the children blossom and leave a class happy is something that Sarah particularly loves about her role. She incorporates a lot of her dance and drama background into her teaching, allowing the children to express themselves.
She said: “It’s a great way during PE lessons to give the children time to express how they feel, get out their emotions. I couldn’t write in school, so if I could dance I was great. It was my escape. It’s nice to see that they could express themselves without the use of anger or violence. You don’t need to be a bully. If you need to be a different character for a moment, you can be here.
“The theatrical side of me gets them up and out their seats which they really enjoy. It’s nice when they have enjoyed the lesson so much that they’re not looking for a clock.’’
CER has been Sarah’s agency from the beginning of her teaching career and she doesn’t feel the need to go anywhere else, due to the constant support and advice she receives from her consultant, Matty. CER has provided her with roles that have boosted her confidence as a teacher and provided her with the tools to create her own individual learning style.
“The communication and support you get from CER are fantastic. No matter what time of day they are always here to help. I didn’t go to other agencies because CER grabbed my attention from day one, as they were the most beneficial. Everyone recommended supply and CER specifically. They were praised massively, so there was not much debate about working with them.”
As a young teacher, Sarah has learnt to incorporate a comedy element to her teaching, so that she can relate to her students, using techniques that have even been passed on to other teachers due to their success.
“Science is not my strongest subject and I am honest with the students about that. Most of the time they say ‘Well that’s ok because as you learn we’ll learn’.
“I created the ‘Knowledge bus’, so anyone can jump on if they don’t understand part of the topic or lose concentration. Then we will go over and over it until there is no one left on my bus and they all understand. Don’t belittle anyone if they struggle. Have a laugh in a sensible way. Most get the bus to school, so it’s something they can relate to.’’
By relating to her students and taking on a more honest approach in the classroom, Sarah has achieved a lot in her short career and has gained the respect of many pupils, inspiring them to work hard and focus on what they can improve on for the future.
‘’If you can achieve that in a supply role, to see them change every day as a full-time teacher must be amazing! You can leave the school and say ‘Yes I’ve made a difference today’. Let them know they don’t have to know everything to get somewhere in life. I struggled in school, so I give them the knowledge that you can get somewhere, you just have to work for it.’’
After hearing from other teachers about their positive experiences with CER and how supply has benefitted them, Sarah is happy to remain on supply and broaden her skills.
“I look differently at things compared to other teachers. You have to look at things in a whole new manner these days.
“Supply is the best way to gain experience. Schools and students are so different. Find out where you are happy working and where you work best.’’