Case study

Cover teacher — Henry Eakins

Henry did his Initial Teacher Training with the Wessex Schools Training Partnership before landing a job teaching years 7, 8 and 9

Why did you decide on a career in teaching?

I've always had a love of history and knowledge, and teaching was a way to surround myself with history and give that knowledge to the next generation.

How did you get your job as a secondary school teacher?

I saw on social media that Teaching Personnel needed more secondary school teachers, so I sent them an email saying I was interested.

There was a bit of back and forth with CVs before I had a one-on-one chat about what kind of position I was after.

What's a typical day like as a secondary school teacher?

I turn up at school at about 8am - though when I was doing my teacher training, it was about 7.30am. Arriving early gives you the time to prep your lessons, print off everything and make sure you know what you're doing for the day. Then you've got the first lesson and then the next one, and so on and so forth, while trying not to break down crying halfway through.

What qualities are important for a career in teaching?

Definitely patience, because no lesson will ever go the way you want it to and if you're easily frustrated or flustered, then no lesson will ever go anywhere close to the way you want it. You've also got to know your subject, because the kids will always throw you a question completely out of left field to try and catch you out.

What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

If there's a student that's been struggling and you've seen that they've had difficulties with a particular concept, and you explain it slightly differently and there's a lightbulb moment, where instead of their eyes just glazing over they light up like they've finally got it. That's really satisfying.

What are the challenges?

You will never feel like you have enough time in the day. There will always be something that demands your attention. You can plan your day as much as you like, but you will always have to change and adapt. Teaching is certainly a profession that requires some constant evolution.

How do you strike a work/life balance?

I ensure that the moment that I leave the school gates, my work is done for the day. So any work that I need to do, I do it at school. Then the moment I leave, that's it for the day.

What are your career ambitions?

I'd like to become a full-time history teacher, eventually becoming head of department. Then, like most teachers, I think the highest aim is probably running a school as a headmaster or a deputy.

What advice would you give to other aspiring secondary school teachers?

Always pick your battles and don't look for a win in everything. Pick when and where you choose to do things because there's no way you'll be able to do it all, and you'll drive yourself mad trying. So choose carefully when you do that marking or when you assign that piece of coursework and take it from there.

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