Deidre Stains, 44, is a primary school teacher at Maple Tree Lower School in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
She holds a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) qualification. She also has a BA in Education Studies which she did in two parts – first at University College Northampton, with further study at University of Luton (now the University of Bedfordshire). The opportunity to undertake the HLTA qualification came about at the end of her foundation degree at Northampton. It was part of the pilot scheme that gave students the chance to undertake the assessment free of charge. She did a basic three-day assessment route, with three training days, putting together evidence from school, and was then visited by HLTA assessor. She then obtained qualified teacher status.
Why did you want to go into teaching?
My first career was at a high street bank. Then, once I had my own children, I developed more of an interest in childcare and became a child minder. Then, I began helping out at a nursery. I started off as unqualified assistant, then took small steps to qualification.
How do you cope with negative classroom behaviour?
Most schools do have some behavioural problems – and you won’t find any with none at all. The whole-school approach is to work with children, and try to get them see the positive side of good behaviour. There is nearly always an underlying cause to negative behaviour, so we do our best to help them work through the issues.
What are the best parts of teaching?
Undoubtedly it’s seeing the children you work with make progress – particularly younger children who seem to take on board things at an amazing rate. I like seeing them develop through the year, knowing that I have helped them along the road to learning. Another enjoyable factor is that no two days are ever the same, children are such individuals it makes every day different. A child might do something they couldn’t do the day before. Of course, it might not always be something good, so you may be despairing at times, but then something else falls into place and it’s good again.
What are the worst parts?
The workload is pretty hefty, so you really need to have good time-management skills. It can be a bit daunting at times; you can be working six or seven days a week, but you do have the holidays and you can use them to catch up with work.
What advice would you have to someone considering becoming a teacher?
Getting qualified status is not easy but it is worth it. Anyone interested should go into a school. And, if possible, more than one to see different age groups. There really is no substitute for experience. You also need to pace yourself and don’t expect it to be easy. But the rewards more than make up for any downsides.