Job Title: Secondary Science Teacher
What exactly is that?
I teach science at KS3 level, and Biology at KS4 and KS5 level. As well as being a learning mentor (form tutor) for KS3 girls.
How did you get there?
I got a good set of GCSEs (10A*, 2A, B), studied all three sciences and maths at A-Level (AAAB). I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school so applied for a degree in Biochemistry, as that’s what I loved. When I got to uni it was a lot harder than I’d expected so switched my degree to Molecular Biology (the bits that I truly loved, just without the chemistry!). During that time I was a mentor to other undergrads which I adored, and knew from that moment on that I wanted to help people. So I applied for a teaching assistant job, but told I was over qualified and they let me apply for a teaching job instead. I then had to do a year as a trainee teacher, followed by a year as a Newly Qualified Teacher. It was blooming hard work, there were a lot of tears along the way but I’m grateful for every moment.
Give us a picture of a typical day for you.
I wake up at 6am, shower, prepare a lunch that I can eat quickly (normally a wrap and a smoothie), get ready and then have cereal and juice for breakfast. Time-saving options are key!
I leave the house at 7am and walk to work (20 mins) to make sure I fit in some exercise each day. On the way to work I think about the lessons I have that day, any meetings and worrying about any students that I have concerns about. When I get in to work I ensure my lessons are prepared and then start preparing lessons for the next day or marking books and homework. I’ll teach for 5 hours a day, I have a 20 minute break which I try to spend with staff and then during lunchtime I am usually mentoring a student, running science club or running eco club.
After school I will stay for at least an hour preparing lessons, marking, contacting parents and other teachers about any concerning students.
When I leave I walk home, cook dinner, finish lesson planning and then normally have time for some TV or reading. I’ll go to bed at 10pm ready for the next day!
If it’s a Friday then I will go to an exercise class straight after school and then go out with my teacher friends to let off steam. I’ve learnt that Friday’s are for relaxing, not stressing about school!
What’s the best thing about what you do?
The best thing is seeing that light bulb moment in students – seeing them finally grasp a difficult concept and see their faces light up with pride. It’s that and the little smiles or ‘thank-you’s that make me keep teaching.
What’s the one thing you could change if you could?
I would reduce the amount of testing and assessment, so that students were less stressed and I did less marking. I think lessons would be much more creative that way.
What did you want to do for a living when you were a kid?
I thought I wanted to be a doctor, until I fainted when someone was describing a wound in detail… That was my unfortunate career end!
Tell us about one thing you were insecure about when you were at school.
I was always insecure about the way I looked, I would always try to wear makeup the way the ‘cool’ girls did. In sixth form I just gave up and tried to be me instead, I was a lot happier that way.
What advice would you give yourself at 18 if you could have?
- Say yes to everything you feel comfortable with, it’s better to be out making memories with friends than sitting at home using social media to contact them.
- Life takes unexpected turns, don’t plan too much, just see where the journey takes you!
What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
Spending time with friends and family outside in the sunshine, nothing can quite beat it!
What’s the name of the last book you read?
Give us one beauty tip you have learned.
Wash your hair less often, it grows so much quicker! I used to wash it every day but now wash it every 3 days and the difference is amazing.
Give us one money tip you have learned.
Always have enough saved up for a couple of months rent, just incase an unexpected turn crops up.
Give us one life lesson you have learned.
Life’s too short to be unhappy, make choices that make you happy – they may not always be the most sensible ones!
What’s your favorite recent purchase for under £25 and why?
My colouring book, it’s so peaceful and gives me a chance to just shut off from work.
Where can people find you online?
Twitter – @nikkisunshine25
Instagram – @nikkisunshine25
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
E-book, Life after Lessons available now!