John Cook (1994)
A Year 4 Class teacher at St James Junior School, John talks about what he loves about his work, from investigating slime to teaching rugby.
I started teaching 11 years ago having spent 10 years as an account handler in advertising, starting at Saatchi & Saatchi on their graduate advertising programme. I loved the buzz of advertising but then, when I turned 30, I realised I wanted a new challenge so, despite having two kids, made the move into teaching.
I converted to teaching on the graduate teaching programme which allowed me to learn on the job and start on a salary which covered the mortgage....just! I had lots of ambitious plans when I started out but I struggled to even make the children listen so had to be patient with my goals.
I had to become more organised, calmer, more creative, more skilled at everything and quickly! In advertising if you made a mistake, you ended up with a poor TV ad but in teaching you could end up with an unhappy, under-confident child which is clearly much more worrying.
I had three big questions which loomed in front of me: why were some children under-confident? Why were they not succeeding? What should I be doing differently to help them? I realised that I needed to try and improve my teaching skills but also who I was, so they had a better example.
My personal ambitions are to try and be a brilliant teacher and maybe a Headteacher if the stars align.I would encourage everyone to go into teaching (particularly at St James Junior School) because it’s an amazing environment to work in where you have freedom to be your best and inspire the children by pursuing your own interests.
I also love the breadth of learning which a primary school teacher facilitates: going to Forest School with Year 1s, learning about the Roman Empire, investigating slime in science, making nightlights using electrical circuits, reading ‘Harry Potter’ or teaching rugby on a rainy Thursday afternoon in Barnes. Every part of the day is brilliant and inspiring.
St James helped me to understand the importance of being in the present moment through the practise of meditation. I love meditating at home and also with my class on a Tuesday morning. Being mindful is the ultimate learning from St James.