Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Teacher Voices: Tyla Elworthy

Here is the third of my series of blog posts celebrating the achievements and progress of former students.

Tyla Elworthy (@TyElworthy on Twitter) graduated from Plymouth University in 2015 with a 1st Class Honours Degree and moved to London. It was there she began working in a wonderful school in the middle of Angel, Islington. Since joining the school she has had some amazing experiences, including arranging a successful Teachmeet and becoming ICT Co-ordinator.

Tyla says she loves working in London, because it's very different to the schools she trained in while at university and she thinks that is why she enjoys the challenge. She says she is looking forward to another year at the school next year! Here is her interview:

1) What made you decide to become a teacher? What/who inspired you? What were your motivations?
I have wanted to be a teacher since I began teaching the alphabet to my teddies in my bedroom when I was about 7 years old! I grew up in a child-orientated familial home, as my parents are foster carers and so I always knew I’d grow to do something in childcare or provision. When it came to the time to make a decision about university, choosing a degree in primary education was the most natural choice and I am so glad I made that decision! 

2) What is the best thing about being a teacher in a primary school? What gets you out of bed in the morning? 
My goodness - there are so many positive aspects to being a teacher, it’s hard to isolate one! I think for me, the main thing is being a positive, optimistic and relentlessly consistent role model in the lives of children who need the stability and routine. I love being one of the people in their lives who they know they can rely on to be there and be smiling as soon as they arrive first thing in the morning. To be among one of the first smiles in a child’s day is a privilege indeed. 

3) What does it take to become an excellent teacher? What characteristics do the best teachers have? 
From the incredible teachers I have met so far in my short career, the successful teachers are the ones who are in it for the children. It’s a personality trait which I think you tend to have or you don’t and when you do, no matter how hard the workload or how late the nights are, you’re still powering through with a smile and enthusiasm. Excellent teachers have the incredible ability to enthuse a child with a passion for learning a subject, no matter how dull it may have initially appeared to them. I have witnessed teachers turn even the most boring of topics into thrilling learning which enthrals even the most resistant of pupils. 

4) What do you consider your greatest achievement to date as an educator? 
When one of my pupils came up to me and said ‘Miss Elworthy, you’re the reason I love coming to school, you teach me interesting things, thank you’. There’ll be no greater moment than that for me, turning learning into a passion is something I am very proud of. 

5) How can we improve education? If you were the Secretary for Education, what would be your first priorities? 
It would absolutely be funding. I work in the second highest borough for child poverty in the country. Our children miss out on experiences and support which would help them flourish and it’s all down to cuts essentially. I understand the need to cut back on expenses but cutting back on children’s futures? Not OK. 

6) What are the most innovative uses of technology in education (that you have done yourself, or have seen)?
I was lucky enough to take my Code Club children to an amazing Computing Celebration recently near our school at the Emirates Stadium. There we saw some incredibly innovative uses of technology and we particularly loved the use of Virtual Reality technology to bring literacy to life. 

7) What is your favourite story or memory of teaching children you would like to share? 
Last year I bought caterpillars for my class and we spent weeks diligently giving them sugar water and watching them grow in hope and anticipation that they would emerge into beautiful butterflies. Eventually they did and the time came to release the butterflies outside. It was a gorgeous spring day and we all gathered around the cage. As I opened the enclosure and the butterflies began to fly away, the look on the children’s faces was amazing, they were staring in total wonder. I was proud to have given them a life experience I know they will never forget. 

8) What advice would you give those who are just about to start out on the pathway to becoming a teacher? The same advice my sister gave to me when I became a teacher - your workload will never end. You could do 12/13/14/15 hour days and still never reach the end of your 'to do' list. Always keep one week day evening and one weekend day to yourself, no work! Be strict on keeping that you-time, you need it. 

9) What are the most significant challenges facing education right now? 
The constant assessment of teacher performance really puts a strain on our ability to provide stimulating and exciting experiences for our students. The pressure schools are under to produce amazing data at the end of each year is increasing week by week and it just isn't sustainable, either for staff or pupils. 

10) What will schools of the future look like? What would you like to see happening in the next 10 years? 
Children will be leading the schools of the future with any luck! There won’t be a whiteboard at the front of the room and the adults will whole heartedly be facilitators, not controllers. We will have the freedom to follow a child’s interests and plan the learning around that, ensuring the children are passionate about their learning. 

Photo courtesy of Tyla Elworthy

Creative Commons License
Teacher Voices: Tyla Elworthy by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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