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Making the transition into teaching;
Samantha Ibbotson

What did you do before becoming a teacher?

I worked as a sales account manager and was responsible for selling a portfolio of technical instrumentation. This involved prospecting for new business, working with key accounts and negotiating sales for new contracts and instrumentation purchases. Working across numerous sectors including the pharmaceutical industry, petrochemical companies, academia and clinical markets enabled me to gain extensive experience in building relationships with scientists, management and procurement. 

Which skills from your previous career will be useful in the classroom?

Presenting to customers at sales meetings, both regionally and globally, gave me confidence in speaking to people from all walks of life and at a variety of technical levels, giving me an understanding of the need to customise my material to the target audience. I'm used to building professional relationships founded on trust in my sales career. Communicating with students with different needs, both socially and academically, will require me to understand their learning styles, as you would understand a customer's needs, and is essential in gaining their respect. I have also needed to be organised and to report succinct data, and these skills will help me manage a busy schedule and to record my reflections as a trainee teacher. 

What inspired you to get into teaching?

My inspiration to get into teaching came from watching my two daughters progress through their school. I volunteered to take part in UCAS preparation evenings by assisting sixth form students with mock interviews. Seeing the students' enthusiasm for science and feeling the sense of achievement in helping them to realise their own potential ignited a passion in me. I also participated in the Royal Society of Chemistry's (RSC) Top of The Bench competition by marking quiz papers and this, and other RSC events, inspired me. 

How has Transition to Teach supported you so far? 

The Transition to Teach programme has given me vital additional support which has been essential in growing my confidence as a trainee teacher and a career changer. Changing my role later in life was not a decision I took lightly and knowing that I have support from Transition to Teach, and that there are other trainees in the same position, helps me feel valued and appreciated. The support I receive from regular webinars and fantastic resources gives me a real sense of community. Having a dedicated Guidance and Development Adviser (GDA) with a wealth of experience allows me to ask questions - and there are many when starting out as a trainee teacher! My GDA has been a brilliant support, especially when I came to tackling my academic essays and her advice is always relevant and gives me the confidence to try new strategies. 

As you move into teaching, what are you most excited about?

Being a creative person, teaching is allowing me to unleash my imagination in lessons - I'm making them interactive, relevant and, where possible, linked to anecdotes. I am looking forward to following students through their whole school career and I'm excited to learn more about how I can make an impact with students throughout their education. Forming relationships with colleagues is also a key part of my role and I am really enjoying taking advice from observations and using this feedback to try new strategies to constantly improve my practice. 

Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

I hope to be a successful teacher, confident in my abilities to engage a class, teaching meaningful and exciting lessons. I know that continuing professional development will be an ongoing process throughout the remainder of my teaching career and progressing into a role as a head of year would be my ambition within the next five years. My main ambition is to be a teacher who is admired and trusted by my colleagues and those I teach, with a passion for my subject, a loyalty to my school and a continuing vocation to influence and create ambition in the scientists of tomorrow.