Why I became a science teacher

James Hannan, Science Teacher at Chelmer Valley High School (not pictured), on his decision to become a teacher.

“Some may think that it is an odd choice for someone with a degree in astrophysics to go into teaching, but it is a decision I have certainly not regretted.

Initially, I wasn’t too sure about becoming a teacher.  After finishing university, I found myself in an odd position; I was at the culmination of three years study and felt like the world was my oyster.  I felt like I could do whatever I wanted and started to think about all the possibilities that lay in front of me. I had always had teaching in the back of my mind, but had reservations about whether it was right for me.  I decided that if I went down that road, I wanted to be fully committed – it’s certainly not the sort of job you can go into half hearted.

So I got in contact with my old secondary school about the possibility of going in for a few days.  After sitting in on some lessons and speaking to some old teachers, I started to realise that I was made for teaching and that any reservations I had would just help towards making me a better teacher.

I have found teaching to be an amazing profession, where I get to spend every day promoting the subject I love and, hopefully, inspiring students to be as passionate as I am.  What other job can you turn up dressed as an astronaut, go outside to observe wildlife, shoot off a water rocket and make parachutes, all in one day?  I can remember what it was like to be at school and I use that memory every day to make lessons interesting, offering students the possibility to expand their minds.  Every time I step into my classroom, I am aware that sitting in front of me there may be the next Einstein.

It is my responsibility to inspire and nurture my students’ interest, turning it into a passion and a bright future. The variety is what makes this job so special; every day is so different from the next, which you would not get with the average 9-5 office job.  There is also the other side of it; sometimes being the only person your student can talk to; being that person that will listen to their problems and help in any way possible.  Being a teacher is not just about educating the students about your subject, but about life as well.

This is why organisations such as the Institute of Physics are so important; they are instrumental in encouraging people into teaching.  They offer support and information every step of the way and with the introduction of the new teacher training scholarships programme, there is a fantastic opportunity to encourage those top graduates into teaching.

I am one of the few people I know who can honestly say they love their job. Teaching is not a career for everyone, but if you can enlighten while being determined; encourage while being patient and creative, while being flexible, then you should not be considering any other career.  Teaching is a career you will not regret entering.”

The IOP has now launched a scholarship programme, which will support 100 outstanding individuals wishing to embark on a physics initial teacher training course. Find out more here.