I love my job. I tell my colleagues and other people this quite often, but it was not what I initially wanted to do.
Years ago I was desperate to work in the voluntary sector but couldn’t get a job, I knew that I couldn’t afford to learn to drive but most jobs in the sector called for a driving licence. After many kickbacks, and a list of unpaid jobs which were supposed to give me access to the unofficial networks, I desperately needed to make myself more attractive to employers. As an alternative I decided to get a training qualification as many voluntary sector jobs seemed to value that qualification.
I applied at college and discovered that I should have started in September – it was now almost Christmas. I was accepted on the proviso that I caught up with the work, partly because the person who interviewed me knew me as a former mature student before I went to university. I was a bit dubious because it meant that I had to find some teaching practice and I didn’t really want to teach just get a bit of training experience, but she suggested a colleague who might offer me some extra-numary slots.
I found myself getting quite interested and was almost looking forward to it, but then found that my very first teaching session ever would also be the one that was to be observed, due to the lateness of my start date. I was petrified that I would not be able to start the lesson and rehearsed the introduction over and over again . I knew my subject, my lesson was planned to the minute, I had audiovisual material, and I checked the video for quality. The class entered, my observer sat in the back, and I started to teach. I flew. I loved it. The sound on the video failed, so I had an extra half hour to fill and still I coped. My observer found one or two things to comment on, but then asked how my other sessions had gone and was amazed that it was my very first session.
I never looked back. I realised that I wanted to teach, just that. I would do it for free if I couldn’t do it for pay. I found a string of temporary teaching jobs.
The problem was that the classroom experience is not the be all and end all of teaching adults. The politics, the lack of funding, occasional workplace bullying and insecurity caused me to question what I was doing, but I knew that I just had to keep on sharing my knowledge. Teaching is vital to me. I think I am good at it.
Now I work in the NHS as an IT trainer. Some people might say that training isn’t teaching. Technically they are right, but I know that I still have that commitment and I think that I use very similar skills. There is no explicit pre course assessment, our training needs analysis is perfunctory at best, but I am now pretty good at assessing the needs of my learners before even a one hour course. I use different training methods, I paraphrase, I plan, I evaluate, I reflect and consider my courses very carefully. Even when I have trained the same course hundreds of times, I still do it with freshness and enthusiasm (in many ways more so).
The tutor who once interviewed me for the teaching course eventually became a colleague, and she once said that you are only as good as your last teaching session – she was very right. Most days I feel that I have done a worthwhile job, reasonably well. Some days I am filled with happiness, though occasionally I get very down if a session is not up to the standard I feel capable of.
Tonight I got the chance to train people who are new to computers and I enjoyed it immensely. At the end of the session I used a technique that I sometimes do when the subject matter is very theoretical. I asked each of the learners what they felt they had learned (one example each) and one thing that they did not understand, given that many people find the subject quite difficult. I was pleased to iron out all the misunderstandings and fogs. Yet again I felt the joy of job satisfaction. I felt very lucky that this is my job, that I get paid a decent wage for doing something that I love so much, and feel is so worthwhile.
I pondered whether this is really a vocation? Is it only teaching of children that is a vocation? If I improve the lives of people, give them confidence, enable them to function better in the modern world, am I not adding quality to their lives? I try to take the love and the values from my life as a Friend into my job. I try to do the job to the best of my abilities, because I think it is right to do so. I understand that the word vocation to mean the career one feels called to. I feel that I am called to do this, and I feel blessed to that calling.