Teaching Personal Statement

After spending almost two decades enjoying the challenges and the rewards of a career as a nurse, in recent years I have been looking for a new career challenge in which I could combine the expertise that I have acquired with a vocation in which I could additionally fulfil my passion to make a positive contribution to society and make use of my enthusiasm for science.

My realization that teaching chemistry would be the ideal new career for me came about as a result of two experiences, one of which was professional and the other personal. In 2002 I took up a post of science technician at a British-curriculum school in the United Arab Emirates. The technical side of the work rekindled a love of sciences that I had harboured since school, but which the everyday demands of being a nurse and mother had somewhat pushed to the side.

Around the same time, I gained a sense of the satisfaction that can be derived from teaching through helping my twin daughters overcome the difficulties that they were having with A-Levels. After months of difficulty struggling with certain core concepts, I found being able to nudge them towards the moment of the ‘penny dropping’ to be tremendously rewarding. This experience also made me interested for the first time in pedagogical questions; I was struck by the fact that, although my daughters are identical twins, their approaches to learning were markedly different, and as a consequence responded to different teaching methods.

I believe that my work experience has equipped me with many of the skills required to have the makings of a chemistry teacher, both in terms of my practical scientific background and my interpersonal skills. In addition to my two years of working as a technician in the UAE, I have been enjoying life as a chemistry technician at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, since 2009. I have enjoyed several aspects of working as a technician, from the obvious pleasure of assisting teachers in carrying out scientific demonstrations that elicit surprise from the students to preparing materials in line with the demands of the syllabus. Working in secondary schools has clarified in my mind that the eleven to eighteen age bracket is the one that I am most interested in teaching, because it matches my skillset, my temperament and my wish to have a subject specialization.

A career as a nurse has also equipped me with several skills that will be valuable for a career in teaching and for studying for the BSc in Chemistry Education. Following my initial three years of training as a nurse, over the following years I took specialist university-level courses at the universities of Northumberland and Manchester. I also took a certificate in teaching in the further and adult education sector, which was then put to use in training student nurses in anaesthetics. Nursing has also been an ideal field for developing communication skills. Through working in a fertility unit I gained experience in counselling couples, a responsibility that required empathy and discretion. Working in an accident and emergency unit revolved around coming into contact with people from a range of backgrounds, and has given me ample experience in offering support to those in distress as well as dealing with aggressive individuals. I am enthused by the possibility of consolidating and developing the skills that I have developed to date through studying the BSc in Chemistry Education at the University of Sunderland.

During my future teaching career I look forward to being able to make use of my wider interests and hobbies to contribute fully to school life. I enjoy playing tennis and badminton, and having been involved in tennis coaching at my school in the UAE I would welcome the opportunity to be involved with helping to coach children in these sports in future. I also enjoy singing and music, and would be enthusiastic about being involved with any school music activities.

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Carl Johnson