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Why I chose physics teaching

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Image: Shutterstock/Bimbim

I’d always had one eye on teaching, at least since graduating from Durham University in 2011.

After plans to study for a masters in history or the philosophy of science fell through, I worked in a few administrative jobs – business development manager, accounts manager/bookkeeper for several small businesses. While I was reasonably well paid, learned a lot of skills, and was pretty good at these jobs, I was never happy. They were simply jobs – not careers.

I felt that I should be doing something a lot more interesting, more intellectually stimulating and more relevant to what I had studied. The chance to be involved in physics again was one that I longed for.

I was told that I had a good way with words, with explaining science, and especially for enthusing people in physics. I really loved talking to people about science, and I’d enjoyed – and seemed quite good at – tutoring GCSE students. I wanted to put this talent and the skills I’d learned from my degree, along with my communication skills, to a relevant use. I also knew that being a teacher would give me that intellectual stimulus I craved, and that the skills required were many and varied. The image problem that physics has – that liking physics is often talked about pejoratively – was another thing I really wanted to do something about.

Another factor was the positive impact a teacher can make. A teacher’s purpose is to help young people achieve their potential, as students and also as human beings. This is a serious responsibility and the stakes are high, but this is what drives me to succeed. Being a teacher, I’ll be able to hold my head high and say that I am doing something genuinely worthwhile that will benefit all the young people I’ve taught and also society as a whole.

I was also really excited to be back at university, although just for a year and in very different circumstances to my undergraduate days. My time at university was the highlight of my life, so the chance to once again meet so many new people, learn new things and explore hobbies and interests in a new city really appealed to me too.

Most, perhaps all, of these reasons for wanting to become a teacher have stayed with me throughout my training year – and they’re there as a motivational reminder whenever there’s a tough day at school.

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Ghassan Al-Sammari

Ghassan was awarded an IOP Teacher Training Scholarship in 2015/16 and is currently training as a physics teacher the University of Manchester.

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