Why I changed career direction and retrained as a computing teacher

This is a guest blog by BCS teacher training scholar Martin Smith who explains why he decided to change direction and retrain as a computing teacher following a successful 10 year career as a web-designer.

The launch of the BCS scholarships last year coincided with my decision to re-train as a computing teacher – so it worked out really well for me. Everything lined up at the right time.martin_smith_pic_for_bcs.jpg

The BCS scholarship has done exactly what it is designed to do. It helped me financially and got me through my teacher training course. As a career changer, I’m doing this later in life, so the scholarship has been brilliant as it has meant that I can concentrate on what I am doing, without turning my family’s life upside-down.

I decided to switch to teaching as I felt it would be very rewarding and would really make a difference in terms of giving something back. I remember having a lot of help from one particular teacher when I was at school. Later in life, I realised what an effect this had on making me the person I am today.

I did a degree in Geology, and that’s when I started doing a bit of HTML. I spent a lot of time coding my dissertation and enjoyed it. After graduating, I got a job as junior web developer and went on to work for a search engine optimisation company. In 2010, I won a Digital Entrepreneur Web Developer of the Year Award. I’d worked long and hard to reach that point in my career and it was around that time I realised that I wanted a change. I had been doing the same work for quite a while and wanted a fresh challenge. Although it would be a big change for me, I felt that I could bring plenty of industry experience to the job. I heard about the BCS scholarships, so I applied, went along for the interviews and did the tests. I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship.

Working in web development has given me a very logical way of thinking which will help when it comes to teaching computing. Thanks to my previous roles, I’m used to presenting ideas to lots of people, questioning them, persuading them, talking to them and getting them to think about things from different angles. So there is plenty of cross-over from this to my new role as a teacher.

I am doing my course though Colchester Teacher Training Consortium (CTTC) and have been very fortunate as I have already found a job (at Philip Morant School in Colchester) which I start full time in July.  It will give me time to find my feet ahead of the new intake in September when I will take on a form as well. I’m really looking forward to being in the classroom and teaching. The new computing curriculum has more of a focus on computer science and logic. It’s going to be great in that I can use my knowledge to help shape and mould it.

We live in a time where everything depends on technology, yet children don’t have much of an idea how things work. I want kids to realise that computers are not just consumables and I hope to get more of them interested in computing. When I was a kid we thought computers were new, cool and cutting edge, but today kids are born in to a digital world and take it all for granted.  We need to get people to think about technology differently and develop an interest in it from an early age.

The computer games industry is worth billions and kids play them, but may not realise that it is actually someone’s job to create them. This industry could dry up if we don’t do help to spark an interest and encourage people to go in it. That’s true for all technology jobs. We need to nurture and develop talent.  We need to make kids realise that what they learn now will potentially help make an important contribution in the future.

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