Do you know a teacher that does remarkable things in a classroom?
This is a new feature on Teacher Toolkit blog and I hope to publish one or two teacher profiles every month. The plan is to interview a teacher with 5 simple questions and explain the work they are currently working on in the education sector.
Meet Mr. Andy Ouma who was interviewed on Monday 12th December 2016. Andy has been teaching for 26 years and currently works as a teacher at Quintin Kynaston, London. He teaches maths to 11-18 year olds.
Question 1: Who/what inspired you to become a teacher?
My cousin called Patrick. He was a mathematician, and a very good one, someone who had completed his degree from Oxford University; whenever I needed help with maths, he inspired me. To this day, I give him credit for my career.
Studying to become a teacher, it was always going to be in secondary education to teach maths. I never considered primary teaching and I did teach geography before, but maths was my first love. I’ve been teaching for 26 years. I’m ‘a lifer’ as they call it and I started in 1990.
Question 2: When the going gets tough, how do you motivate yourself?
It’s a bit of a cliché, but what motivates me is that I know I make a difference to people’s lives. When you’ve taught as long as I have, you’re bound to meet a student who bumps into you and shakes your hands; “you made a difference to my life.”
We often forget, that we are making an impact on their lives in the classroom, and sometimes we all need those reminders.
Andy Ouma in his classroom, marking examination papers after school. Ouma has been teaching for 26 years.
Question 3: What is your no.1 classroom secret (to your success)?
There is an advert on the television that says: “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So what I do in September, is that I lay down my expectations for learning and for behaviour, and throughout the year I am consistent, that come hell or high water, if you breach my simple expectations, there will be consequences. The kids are in no doubt. They don’t have to second-guess. You’ve got to be consistent, day in, day out. You start as you mean to go on …
Question 4: What advice would you give to a new teacher?
As a new teacher, the main emphasis is going to be on behaviour management. Never take anything personally. The students who are rude to you are not doing so because of you as a person, but to you as a symbol of authority. My second piece of advice would be, is to never raise your voice. It generates so much heat and no light at all. It just wastes time; you’ll get stressed, yet you will prevail. Just remind them. That’s my rule. That’s the consequence. That ‘this’ is going to happen.
Question 5: How do you look after your well-being?
Ours is not a 9-to-5 job, but at some point in the evening, you must switch off. You must say, “I’m not going to do anymore marking, or check any work emails.” You can end up working every hour god sends and you end up burning out. At some point you must say, “that is it.”
When you return to work, you arrive refreshed, relaxed and ready to start the battle again! I also love country music and listen to various albums to switch off: Jim Reeves and Porter Wagoner.
Andy Ouma is not on social media, but he is happy for you to get in touch with him if you have any questions.
He is doing brilliant things in his classroom.
This is a new feature on Teacher Toolkit blog and I hope to publish one or two teacher profiles every month. The format is simple, I receive a teacher nomination to feature here and I arrange a time to interview them. If you would like to nominate a teacher you know, use this template and then send your response via Support@TeacherToolkit.me.