Anne-Marie Lawlor, 53, From Civil Servant to Secondary School Teacher
I joined the Civil Service straight from university (where I had studied French) and I loved my job. I was involved with public policy and spent time working with politicians, which was fascinating. However, after a period of serious illness about seven years ago I did start to re-evaluate the direction my career was taking. After a lot of soul-searching, I left my job and began an Open University degree in psychology. I began to do charity work as a trustee and a volunteer helping children with reading in primary schools. I also ran parenting classes for another charity. Then I read the founder of Now Teach’s article in 2016 and it reawakened a thought I had had on and off for a long time about teaching. I made some initial enquiries, one thing led to another, and here I am.
When I read about Now Teach, everything clicked into place for me. It demonstrated that someone somewhere wanted people like me (i.e. not brand new graduates) as teachers, and it offered a structured way to train, and a cohort to belong to, which felt reassuring.
Less than a year since I first looked into Now Teach, I’m in the classroom teaching French to year sevens (age 11-12). I’m based at the wonderful Walworth Academy in south London and on Thursday afternoons I’m with the cohort I’m training with. I’m also studying for a PGCE on Fridays, which is great because it brings together your classroom practice with the more academic side of teaching.
Now Teach is pitched at people who’ve had a career already so the age range of the students is about 40-60. I find the young people we’re training alongside are very generous. Once you start the course, you’ve all got so much in common you forget about age.
At the moment, I’m learning to manage a classroom and whilst some students are excited about learning French, others are quite daunted. One student I had was very bothered about having to say words out loud in class and I finally got him to speak in the lesson. Afterwards he came up to me and said, ‘Miss am I good at French? ’ and I said ‘You are!’. The fact he believes he could do something he couldn’t do before will have a knock-on effect on the rest of his life. You really do feel like you’re changing people’s lives and that’s very exciting. To be doing something completely new when you’re in your early fifties and having a whole new adventure is great. What I really enjoy about the job is that the feedback I get is instant. With students, you know immediately if you’re teaching it in a way that they’re not understanding and you can put it right.
I have three children of my own and they have all been curious and supportive. My husband is fully behind it. As soon as I said it was something I was interested in he said, ‘It’s obvious! Of course you must do it.’
I like teenagers and I feel very passionately about the importance of education, especially for children from disadvantaged families. I also enjoy explaining things and getting the best out of people. Latterly, my civil service job was all about coaching and developing people.
I’m far more resilient and less fearful than I was in my twenties and, as well as that, I have all that experience from my previous job behind me which I hope at some point will be helpful and useful in my new career.
For more information please visit: https://nowteach.org.uk/