Jenni Mailley is a 24 year old primary school teacher working and living in Glasgow. She tells us what it is like to be a teacher in Scotland, how she realised she wished to be an educator and the importance of being a ‘hoarder’.
What is it you do?
I tried to compose a short list of things that are important in my day that have an impact on the pupils in my class. A normal day could be; welcoming each pupil, listen to stories from home, sort arguments, comfort those in need, tie shoes, fix hair, find missing stationary, stop fights, dry tears, babysit toys, reunite missing clothing with pupils, put names on clothing, sing songs, hold hands, read stories, get called mum maybe four times, write to the tooth fairy about a tooth that has been lost, provide wet paper towels to sort a number of ailments and finally teach.
Teaching in Glasgow poses so many fantastic opportunities for the young people in the city and further a field. In my experience, describing how a teacher ‘teaches’ differs from individual- to- individual. Personally, I love utilising the resources Scotland provides whether it be natural or man made. The museums in Glasgow have a wealth of learning within their walls and provide centuries of culture to explore.
What’s it like being a teacher in Scotland?
Teaching is the profession that I have always wanted to go into. Primary school hosts some of my fondest memories and it was my teachers that created the environment for these instances to happen. Being an educator enables me to generate experience that will be remembered long after my name is forgotten. The holidays are good. In fact, they are great. Also, finishing work at three o’clock every day allows me to squeeze in all of the extracurricular activities ever other professional wishes they had time to do. Life is somewhat bliss. This utopia is the opinion shared by many. Most of which have only ever had to deal with one child at a time, who also happens to be their own. I take work home. I leave school at half four most days. And well without the kids, I wouldn’t enjoy my job. I will admit that teaching is a stressful job but if you do what you love, it is said you will never work one day in your life.
What’s the best part of your job?
I feel teachers are there to show young people ways to reach their full potential. Each pupil has different goals and dreams that begin to be fulfilled at primary school. Educationalists have a duty to acknowledge these talents and challenge pupils to reach their full potential. Over the last few years, Scotland has been pushing to close the attainment gap in education, ensuring everyone has equal opportunities regardless of their background. The people at the forefront of this are all the hardworking teachers that dedicate their weekends, evenings and homes to ensure the best for the people in their class. I know you will read homes with slight confusion. Ask anyone that lives with a teacher – they’re hoarders!
Being a hoarder myself, it was only right that I went into the teaching profession – I fitted the bill. I know it will sound very cliché but the main reason that I got into teaching was because I wanted to make a difference. I am in the opinion that if enough people try, just a little bit each day to make a difference, the overall outcome can be fantastic. There are small victories that happen in classrooms each day that nobody hears about, yet make a difference to someone’s outlook or life. You also get to laugh a lot. Each Sunday when I go to my Mum and Dad’s for dinner, I narrate (and occasionally act out) all the hilarious things that have happened in my class throughout the week.
Who do you look up to in your life, male/female, and why?
Both my Mum and Dad stressed the importance of learning to myself and my siblings. I have to say that my family are my biggest role models. Each generation telling a a different story of success in their own way. The idea that ‘if you want something enough you work until you get it’ was repeated time and time again by my parents. And here I am, with a degree under my belt and my dream job.
I know you come from a very active outdoorsy family. Did Girl Guiding play a big part in your life?
Being involved in Girl Guiding has played a massive part in where I am right now. At the age of 5 I joined the rainbows, the first stage in the girl guiding movement, and never left. I have been brought up in a Scout/Guide based household as both of my parents are active members of both movements. I owe a lot to guiding. The opportunities that I have had through guides have allowed me to grow in confidence, make new friends and travel the world. I have seen some of the worlds most amazing landscapes through camping and it is these memories that I share with the children I work with to inspire them to do the same.
Any advice you would give to people before they enter the teaching profession?
Being in this job has matured me. Being a teacher in your early twenties poses a lot of decision making that normally results in serious FOMO*. I can no longer have the wild night at Buff club on a Thursday because teaching with a hangover is a fate worse than death. However, being the only one in the group chat the next day that is feeling fresh is a bonus. If you are thinking of going into the teaching profession then get some work experience first. See if it if the job for you. You must be able to tolerate a large number of children and if you can do that then you are about half way there.
You will learn to have the patience of a saint. I don’t know how many times I still laugh at the “guess what…what?….good guess” joke with true enthusiasm. So to round this off, if you want to be a teacher go for it. There is no job that rewards you quite the same and the holidays are pretty class too!
*Fear of missing out