You can call me Miss….

I got home tonight, dripping wet after being caught in a rather unexpected hailstorm, to find a letter on my doormat. This was the letter I have been waiting for ever since I applied to start teacher training seven very long months ago. It therefore contained within it all of my hopes and dreams for the future and despite my desperation to know my fate, I found myself absolutely terrified to open the envelope. What if this was the end of the road? What if my dream of being a teacher was never going to come true? I gave myself a minute before ripping the letter open; then, with shaking hands, I read the line ‘We are pleased to inform you…’. I can’t even begin to describe what happiness and what intense relief I felt as those words sunk in. I jumped for joy, I whooped out loud; to be able to have a career I love, to get to teach a subject that has enriched my life beyond all measure, to get to give children the gift of an education! What greater vocation could there be?! And now it is mine!!!

I have no illusions, and I am no idealist. I know enough teachers to know that my classroom will not be a live version of Dead Poet’s Society. I know full well that it will be hard work, with incredibly long hours, and often little thanks. However, if I can give just one child the confidence and encouragement that my best teachers gave me, I know all the hardships will be worth it. Ever since I was at primary school, I benefited from teachers who spotted my love for literature and writing and encouraged me to develop it as much as possible. In my last year of primary school, my class teacher always read my pieces of creative writing out loud to the class, as examples of excellence. My heart would swell with pride at the thought that something I had created was considered worthy of attention and praise. The greatest joy for me, though, was being asked to read the story to the class on Friday afternoons. I remember the atmosphere in the winter most vividly; school was one of those red brick Victorian affairs, with huge gothic windows, parquet floors and rusty cast iron radiators. We would sit, warm and cosy in our overheated classroom, the big windows dark and steamy, with rain tapping at the glass, while I would read out loud. I don’t think my teacher ever truly knew what that meant to me.

Moving on to secondary school, I became a small fish in a big pond, and my confidence suffered. I was used to being the best at everything and, all of a sudden, I wasn’t. That’s where my English teacher stepped in. She noticed the books I chose to read were rather more advanced and she’d give me reading lists to take to the library to expand my horizons. She too would read out my creative writing to the rest of the class and encourage me to push myself further. As I moved up the school, I became known for my writing and my talent was nurtured, encouraged and given every opportunity to shine. I lived for my English lessons, where I could steep myself in words. In those classrooms I was made to feel special and that I had a great future ahead of me. Obviously my parents told me all this too, but somehow when you hear it from someone who’s not related to you, it means so much more because they have no obligation to find you wonderful! It was my English teacher who pushed me to apply to Cambridge, and gave me the confidence to believe that I could be good enough to study there. I wasn’t, as it turns out, but that’s where another favourite teacher saved the day, recommending her alma mater which she thought would suit me perfectly. She was right; I followed her advice and had a marvellous three years. Without her, I don’t know where I would have ended up.

Teachers are often vilified, criticised for working too little and complaining too much, told that they are not ‘cut out’ for the ‘real world’ and haven’t got two brain cells to rub together. The decline of respect for the teaching profession in England is incredibly disappointing when you consider that really, there is nothing more vital to society than teachers. I am enormously grateful to the good teachers I had, who dedicated themselves to their pupils with a passion and always had time for those of us who needed that little extra encouragement to reach our potential. I owe them so much and I hope to be able to emulate them as I strive to do my best for my own pupils. School is about so much more than exams and grades; it’s where children grow into young adults and lay down the foundations of their futures. To be a part of that process in a child’s life is an immense privilege and I absolutely cannot wait to have a role in it.

So, starting in September, I will be a trainee English teacher. I’m doing a route that involves being thrown in at the deep end by training in a school rather than at university, so it’s going to be quite the challenge. However, after several years of dull office jobs that I can’t wait to see the back of, I’m ready!! Woohoo!!!! Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement while I have been waiting…it has really helped to be able to share the process with you, and I have appreciated your support and faith in me enormously!

125 comments

  1. Many congratulations – from what you have written you seem to want this for all the right reasons – I wish you the very best and hope that it all goes well.

  2. I can’t think of a better teacher! You have already been teaching me through your blog. Not only about wonderful books but about how to find joy in every experience. Congratulations!

  3. Oh, Rachel! I am absolutely over-the-moon delighted and overjoyed for you! This is fantastic, wonderful and brilliant, brilliant news! You are going to be an amazing and inspiring teacher, my friend. But…what am I saying? You’ve already taught and enlightened me so much through all of your reviews and blog posts.

    Well done, Rachel. Go to the head of the class! For real! Congratulations. If we lived closer, i’d take you out for a celebratory drink of your choice. Then again, we could always meet up in Dublin one of these days…Lots of love to you, and again, fair play and very well done! – June

  4. Enormous great big congratulations Rachel, I am so pleased for you, you will love it because you are motivated and have seen some life first. My daughter has just landed her first teaching job in the school where she has been doing supply, she will be teaching English as well as developing the innovative use of new media in the classroom across the whole school and demystifying it all for the staff (!)..it’s been a tense few months going through interviews but she loves the job and it’s clear the profession needs the enthusiasm that you and she share for it all. Good luck, you’ll be fab!

    1. Congratulations on your accomplishment of this part of your dream. You are already an articulate, bright, well-read lady who is such a pleasing educator to those of us who read your blog. Best wishes for continued joy and love of literature.

    2. Thanks so much Lynne! You made me feel so positive when we met before so I really appreciated that! I am THRILLED for your daughter – good for her. I hope the job is every bit as fantastic as she hopes it is.πŸ™‚

  5. My congratulations too (of course!), but do you know what was my first thought, based on how you framed this news in your post? It reminded me so strongly of what Anne Elliott thought when she received Captain Wentworth’s letter. Do you remember the powerful words, which (as Cassandra Austen said in another context) ought to have been emblazoned in gold? The words were: “On the contents of that letter depended all which this world could do for her.” Wow. And for Anne, that was true. For you – how interesting, isn’t it, that the fateful letter, for a young lady of the 21st century, is one about a career! That women’s chances in life now are based on work, and not a man choosing you for marriage or not. I’m so tickled to be able to offer you a “literary” congratulation! Warm regards, Diana

    1. Thank you so much Diana! I love that analogy – it’s always an honour to be compared to Anne, and yes it is so interesting that nowadays a letter containing career news should be so much more important than any other – how far we have come!

  6. congratulations .hope you enjoy your work .best wishes . am waiting for a review of emma by austen

  7. I have forwarded this to my Leslie and Lauren and my son Jonathan, all of whom are teachers. This will cheer them when the going gets rough when you are a teacher in a NYC public school. I am so happy for you.

  8. I’ve only just come into the blogging world and therefore only just discovered your blog, however, if there is one thing I know about it’s teaching and training to be a teacher. I was seventeen years in the classroom and then spent nineteen years training people to specialise in English in the primary classroom and early secondary years. I loved every minute of it. I can’t imagine any other life that would have been so satisfying, so I am so pleased, for you, for the profession and for the lucky children who will eventually be taught by someone with so much enthusiasm. But, next year is going to be hard, very hard, as I’m sure you realise, so if there is anything I can do to help at any time then do please get in touch. I love helping students.

    1. Hi Alex! Thank you so much for your endorsement – it’s always so wonderful to hear from other teachers how much they have loved their time in the classroom. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying either! I am sure it’s going to be a struggle next year and I have no illusions – I will appreciate all the help I can get so thank you for your offer and I am sure I will be in touch!

  9. Congratulations! I’m happy for you.

    I have worked as a teacher some years ago. It’s a very demanding job. But in every class, there will be one or two pupils that really ‘get’ what you are trying to teach them (much more than your subject – mine was history b.t.w.) and they make it so rewarding. All the other pupils were lovely too, of course, but you know there are always one or two that really need a role model at that time in their lives.

    1. Thanks Elke! Yes – that’s what I can’t wait for – I think it will be really special to be able to help those children who really need someone.

  10. Congratulations, Rachel!!! How thrilling! Actually, your post really warmed my heart – your writing is always so evocative and I look forward to every single pageπŸ™‚

    I think you will be a fantastic, inspiring, and charismatic teacher. Your passion for literature is contagiousπŸ˜‰ Also, I think the only way of learning how to become a teacher is to dive in and do it. Nothing can really prepare you for it so the best way to learn is actual experience. My first year of teaching (primary!) school children was rough and classroom management was challenging, but with time and experience it became easier and more enjoyable. Now it’s usually quite fun!πŸ™‚

    Also, I think it’s important for us to remember exactly what you said about the important role of teachers and how big of an impact they have on their students. I still remember all of my teachers and how much they influenced my world view and who I became as a person. Even though they are not valued highly enough in many places, teachers have the job of leading students, opening their minds, and nurturing them to fulfill their potential. It’s an enormous responsibility. In Korea, teachers are soooooo highly respected! It’s amazing to witness. Getting a job as a teacher is a big deal. Of course, education is the number one priority here so that’s not really a surprise.

    Lastly, I also received some good news – I will be going to Brighton, England this September to get my masters in applied linguistics at the University of Sussex. I get to live and study in England for a whole year!πŸ™‚ I love England so I’m super excited and also terrified. I hope I can still remember how to studyπŸ˜‰

    Once again, congratulations!!! And sorry for the length of this comment, oops! I’m excited for you!

    1. Hi Lucy, thanks very much for the congratulations and I’m so pleased you have been influenced by marvellous teachers and are now enjoying being one yourself!

      Coming to Brighton, eh? How exciting for you! Congratulations! It’s a very lively place to live and the Sussex coast is beautiful. If you need a friend while you’re here, you know who to call – I won’t be far!πŸ™‚

  11. Brilliant — you will be terrific. Many congratulations — of course they’d have been crazy not to accept you but I so related to that experience of not wanting to open the envelope in case it was bad news.

    1. Thank you Harriet! You can’t help but doubt yourself and dread bad news, can you?! Though in my job most envelopes contain bad news so I have got used to that shaky hand experience!!

  12. Brilliant news! I am so happy for you despite the sadness it brought to me on a personal level. I did apply for teacher training this year too, and didn’t get even a consideration for my first choice which because I have children was my only choice. But I feel happy, and terribly excited for you! oooooooooooooh! What a brilliant teacher you will be! Please keep up your beautiful blog – I can’t contemplate the thought of next year with out your wonderful insights of literature and life.
    Well done!

    1. Thank you Vicky, that means a lot.πŸ™‚ I am so sorry you didn’t manage to get a place this time. I really am. This isn’t the first time I have applied for teacher training – it’s third time lucky for me, so I know exactly how you feel and it’s horrid. But don’t be discouraged – if this is what you want, you can make it happen. I tried all routes this year and got a GTP and PGCE place in the end – I am doing the GTP because it suits me better. Have you looked into the GTP?
      I probably won’t be able to post as frequently – I have accepted that now – but I will still be writing as often as I can, so don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!πŸ™‚ Thank you for valuing me so highly!

      1. Thankyou for your kind words and advice. I will definitely be applying for GTP this time round! Look forward to hearing all about it….

  13. Excellent news! You will make a marvellous teacher. I am a 62yr old woman who studied English Literature at A-level at school, but I have learned more about literature and the key to analysing books since reading your blog, than I did at school. I now have the tools to study any book. Thank you and good luck in your career.

    1. Thank you so much Wendy – that is so lovely to hear and I am really touched. I am thrilled to have had such an influence! You are more than welcome – it brings me such joy to know that other people get something from what I write, so thank you for telling me that!πŸ™‚

  14. Love the image of you finding that envelope and staring at it with absolute fear/delight, Rachel. I knew it was going to be a big ‘YES’ from the panel the whole time, how could they possibly refuse the likes of you? A huge hug of congratulations for your exciting news and well done you for all of your hard work, effort and positive attitude which has resulted in this fantastic opportunity!

  15. I am so happy that your dreams are coming true! You will make an excellent teacher. Your students will be lucky to have you. Congratulations!

  16. My smile is so huge I’m sure it is sending ripples of waves across the pond, Rachel. Congratulations! I could feel your excitement in your words; the tense moments before opening the envelope, the belief and perhaps disbelief, as you read it one more time, the thrill and anticipation of achieving your goal. Well done. There is no finer profession than to teach youngsters. Yea!

  17. Firstly warmest congratulations. I did teacher training in the early 1980’s but I didn’t have anything like the passion for the profession that you have. But I loved it as a career and have been fortunate enough to be a Headteacher in 3 schools. In that time I met many trainee teachers – and the very best of them always had that sheer delight in working with young people. You seem to have that same passion and dedication in abundance. When I started my training a very wise Professor greeted us on our first day by telling us they would equip us with the techniques of teaching but that this would only make us satisfactory at best. “To be outstanding” he told us ” you need that spark of natural talent. If you haven’t got it there’s little we can do. But if you have got it, we’ll show you how to use it to make you the inspirilatipnal teacher you were meant to be!”. I’ve never forgotten those words and I believe them still Something in the way you write and in your passion for teaching tells me you’ve got that natural talent. It’s the best job in the world. I wish you every success and happiness in it.

    1. Thank you so much Col! One day I would love to be a Headteacher!πŸ™‚ But before that I do very much want to be an outstanding teacher and I entirely agree that it is about having natural talent – I hope I have it within me! Thank you for your good wishes – I hope I can have as much success and joy in what I do as you have!πŸ™‚

  18. Congratulations! I look forward to hearing all about your experiences as a teacher. I think English, especially, is a subject which needs enthusiastic teachers – they’re lucky to have you.

    1. Thanks Simon! I agree – as it’s compulsory up to 16 you often end up with a lot of grumpy kids who don’t want to be there so you need to be able to get them interested somehow…hopefully my enthusiasm will win them over!!

  19. Congratulations and well done! It makes a huge difference to have a teacher that cares and nurtures your interest and I look forward to hearing about your experiences!

  20. Yay Rachel!!! As I wait for my train home tired I know I have worked hard & made a difference to children’s lives. Well done & enjoy the journey.

  21. Great news. Congratulations. Though I don’t fancy the chances of any of your students getting an A for an essay that argues Fanny Price is Austen’s most admirable heroine!

    1. Thank you so much David!πŸ™‚ I will always mark fairly – but will warn that disagreeing with me is probably not the best way to an A!πŸ˜‰

  22. Many congratulations, Rachel! I think everyone who has a passion for books – or indeed any subject – has a teacher in their past who encouraged and inspired them. I certainly did. Now I’m watching and encouraging my own children to discover books, and I just hope in their school lives they are lucky enough to have teachers with as much enthusiasm for reading as you share on your blog. Best of luck to you!

    1. Thank you Cathy! I agree – literature lovers always tend to have people they can look back and say – ‘yes, if it wasn’t for X…’ which is a testament to the power of enthusiasm and passion! I’m glad your children have a mum like you to inspire them! Thank you very much for your good wishes, they are much appreciated!πŸ™‚

  23. Congratulations! I am a primary school teacher (teaching Year 5 at the moment), I started my PGCE four years ago and am coming to the end of my third year teaching. It’s a hard job, mainly because you can do everything right and still have lessons go wrong because of factors out of your control, which can be hard if you’re a perfectionist like me. But it’s also an incredible job with so many moments that make all the negatives worth while. The PGCE is tough, so if you want a moan about it, you know where I amπŸ˜›

    1. Wow I admire you Sam – I haven’t the patience for primary teaching! I’m glad you’re enjoying it thugh and think the negatives are worthwhile – people have been trying to put me off and my answer always is, every job has crap bits and I think in teaching the best bits are so good that they make all the other rubbish more than worthwhile! I’m doing the GTP rather than the PGCE but I’m sure it will be no less stressful so you’ll probably get stressy emails from me at some point – thank you for offering your support, I appreciate it!πŸ™‚

  24. Congratulations! All I can say is brace yourself, it is a roller coaster! I have 2 weeks left of my placement, a week of uni and then I am qualified, which is a scary, but exciting thought. Training to teach is pretty hard, but for every ‘pull your hair out’ moment, there are moments of sheer hilarity; it is definitely never dull. And, speaking as an English trainee, you have picked the best subject to teach. I’m sure the passion you clearly display in your blog will come across in the classroom.

    1. Thank you Lindy! It’s so good to hear from another English trainee – good for you on nearly finishing – you have made it! I am excited AND terrified of starting as I have absolutely no idea what awaits!!

  25. Congratulations, Rachel! That is such wonderful news (not that I’m at all surprised). You’re going to be an amazing teacher. Yay!πŸ™‚

  26. Well done. I am actually a teaching assistant – I get to do teaching in small groups – without the paper work, planning, long hours etc – also we have a nice relationship witht the kids. I have never wanted to be “proper teacher” myself – but am so glad there are committed people who do I really wish you luck – it’s fab that you are so enthusiastic. I know plenty of teachers who manage to retain their enthusiasm even after many years – no reason why you won’t too. I expect you will be fabulous!!

    1. Teachers couldn’t function without teaching assistants! It’s a great job and I’m so glad you enjoy it! Thank you for your encouragement – I can’t wait to get going!πŸ™‚

  27. Rachel, that is wonderful news! I can’t add anything original to everyone else’s lovely comments, only that you come across as an absolute natural! As an English teacher myself, I know that any school you work in will be very fortunate to have you. I am sure you will enjoy every minute of your training. Yes, it will be hard work, but when work is fulfulling and creative, somehow it doesn’t seem like such hard work.

    On a completely different note – have you read a book called “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”? I think you might like it. Not only is it a very moving account of Occupied Guernsey, it is also a delightful evocation of the joys of reading, and it put me in mind of your blog…

    All good wishes,
    Caroline

    1. Thank you very much Caroline, I really appreciate that! It’s always so lovely to hear from English teachers and to know that it IS fulfilling and creative, which is what I hope it will be!

      No I haven’t but I do have a copy somewhere and have been meaning to read it for ages. You have reminded me, so thank you!

  28. Dear Miss Brodie,
    Let me say my husband has taught art in a Manhattan high school for 26 years and still finds it fulfilling. i love hearing his stories of students who return many years later to thank him for his inspiration and guidance. Some things money can’t buy.
    Congratulations.

    1. Thank you so much LC – it’s always so heartening to hear of those stories – I can’t wait to feel the same way and that my work has significance and valueπŸ™‚

  29. Congratulations! And welcome to the most wonderful vocation in the world. I am last coming to the end of this delicious, enriching endeavor, throughout which I have remained giddy at the thrill of being paid to read, write, and share my love of words and books. For forty-one years I have taught in independent schools in the United States and overseas. I have been able to revel in students’ discovery of books as different as Bleak House on the one hand and Beloved on the other. This semester my eleventh graders (first year A levels) have read Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Doug Wright, and Moises Kauffman and the Tectonic theater project. In the fall I will open Hamlet for the thirtieth time and feel as both a fresh experience and an old friend. John Donne and Jane Austen will be waiting for me, too, in the fall, but in the spring I will teach an elective on Literature and 9/11. Of all the academic disciplines, literature best provides us with “a frigate…/To take us lands away,/…/How frugal is the chariot/That bears the human soul.” Literature provides a ready opening, too, for important conversations with students about issues that matter deeply to them. Their own struggles will inform their reactions to the characters they meet; their comments will sometimes be thinly disguised autobiography or memoir. They will look up to you and trust you, and you will strive to earn their trust. You will never be bored; you will never stop growing; and you will never again be able to read without noticing, at some subliminal level, how a work is constructed; how it could be taught. Joy to you, then, and many, many glorious years in the world’s most rewarding enterprise.

    1. Wow, Suzanne, what an endorsement of teaching! That made me feel so warm inside! I am thrilled you have had such a wonderful and fulfilling career and I very much hope I will have the same overwhelmingly positive experience and fantastic students. Thank you so much for such a passionate comment – I am so excited now!!πŸ™‚

  30. Oh what fantastic new – congratulations!!!! I never fail to be inspired when visiting your blog, so know for certain that you will be an inspiring teacher – what luck pupils!πŸ™‚

  31. Congratulations – love your passion – I am sure you will be one of those teachers your pupils will remember too! Good luck.

  32. That was a lovely post. Congrats! It’s really special when you’re on a path to something you really believe is your destiny. I’m glad you found it and have attained it.

  33. I’m catching up with all your doings, Rachel – congratulations to you! I truly hope that it will be all you expect and are hoping for!

  34. Keep meaning to come by and say a big CONGRATS on this news! I know a few teachers and they’ll tell you it’s challenging, but they bring so much to those kids that I’m very grateful they went into the profession. I’m sure you’ll do well with your students, despite the inevitable frustrations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s