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What it’s really like to be a…

Amber Bothwell has been a teacher for 15 years
Amber Bothwell has been a teacher for 15 years

Teacher, Amber Bothwell, Cayman Prep & High School

By Lindsey Turnbull

What are your main duties as a teacher?

Classroom teaching, of course, but also planning lessons and assessing learning (marking), which actually takes up more time between them. We also have to spend time on medium and long-term planning, sometimes looking a year or two ahead. Tracking data from tests and other assessments has become increasingly important, as we try to monitor students’ progress to ensure they are improving over time.

How long have you been a teacher?

15 years

What qualifications and training did you need to get your first job?

I needed a bachelor’s degree in my subject area (English and linguistics) and a postgraduate certificate of education, which is a one year teacher training course that includes about 60 percent classroom practice. It is helpful to have further qualifications, especially if you want to move into management or a specialist role: a master of arts in children’s literature has been useful for my field and I know many teachers who decide to pursue a master’s in education or a related field, often while they are on the job.

What do you love most about your job?

I love those “lightbulb moments” when a child makes a new connection or discovery and you can see how proud and excited they are. They make you feel like you have done your job successfully. I also really enjoy hearing about my students’ successes in sports, clubs and other subject areas – sometimes even years later, after they have left school. It reminds you how talented and capable they are in so many ways. Plus extracurricular events often have a wonderful atmosphere of togetherness and enthusiasm.

What are the low points to the job?

With record-keeping, reporting, budgeting and so on, there is a considerable amount of paperwork involved behind the scenes of teaching. This administrative work is essential but it is hard to balance it all and sometimes it can feel like it takes you away from your core job – teaching! We also occasionally have very emotional moments when our students are facing struggles in their personal lives and need support.

What advice would you give a young person considering becoming a teacher?

Try to get as much classroom experience as you can as a volunteer or teaching assistant so you understand the realities of the job before you commit to it. Then look for a rigorous teacher training course as it makes a very big difference in preparing you to face the challenging aspects of the job. Also, it is important to remember that, while teaching can be tough, there are many rewarding aspects and a chance to have a big impact on individual students as well as your community.

 

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