Name: Christopher Baker
Job Title: Teacher of Mathematics and Computing
Organisation: Monks Walk School
Number of years in current position: 0
Qualifications: Mathematics BSc, Management PgDip, Computational Physics EngD, Mathematics PGCE
Briefly describe the organisation you work for. I work for a large secondary school in Hertfordshire. At the school I am employed in, I teach from year 7 to sixth form.
Explain what you do on an average day at work. There is no average day as a teacher and most days vary. I can go from teaching a low year 7 set to further mathematics A-level and all lessons can be changed from outside influences (such as weather, holidays, etc) and this is what most teachers like the most about the profession.
What do you like most about your job? I like that I teach a variety of levels over the year groups. I enjoy stretching pupils studying further mathematics at A-level and inspiring the pupils I teach at Key Stage 3.
What stimulated your interest in maths, and when? I enjoyed the problem-solving aspects of mathematics and the satisfaction when you get a correct answer. Later, I enjoyed how areas such as number theory were studied for its purity before applications were found in cryptography. During my doctorate, I become interested in applied mathematics and using computers to solve complex equations that governs the way fluids work or neutrons interact.
What influenced your career choice? This is my second career, after working in the nuclear sector for a few years (both industry and academia) before teaching. Both aspects of my career come from my enjoyment of mathematics.
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job? To be a mathematics teacher, the most important skill is to love your subject and use this to inspire pupils to understand that mathematics is more than arithmetic. I talk about my mathematical career before teaching frequently to help pupils understand the uses of maths in industry and academia.
Any advice you may have for other individuals considering your career path. Personally, I think having outside experiences help. Having work experience outside education brings an extra dynamic into teaching. However, whichever your path into teaching takes, the most important thing is to read about your subject and develop a deeper understanding of the mathematics used at school. Spending a week in school helps to understand whether you can see yourself at the front of the classroom, and most teacher training providers have this as a requirement.
Your future career plans. I have not been teaching long, but I aim to become head of department in the near future. I also enjoy educational research and improving mathematics education so I am tempted to become an academic again, but this time in education rather than nuclear!