Name: Sean Pickles

Teacher at: Immanuel College (BDAT)

Subject: Science

What made you decide to be a teacher?

Whilst at university studying medicine, as part of my course, I got the chance to go into schools and teach anatomy and physiology to year 9 students. I loved it! I found the experience extremely enjoyable, sharing knowledge about my subject with young people. So I changed my career path and have never looked back. I have always worked in this city and i am currently working in my third school. I started here as the head of science and I am currently a Deputy Headteacher.

What is your proudest achievement since you have been teaching?

As a teacher it’s always the personal stories of student success that give me the fondest memories. Enabling students to achieve their potential is a rewarding privilege. It’s always pleasing to hear about success of former students. Recently, one of our students who had faced great challenges both inside school and out, wanted to thank the teachers and support staff for their extra special support. She achieved a first-class degree and had improved her life significantly. Now she has a lifelong career that she is passionate about.  

What is the most challenging aspect to teaching?

The relentless pace of the job! We are always pushing forward to enable our students to be the very best that they can be. This makes the job both exciting and challenging in equal measures. It’s a job that is never complete; there is always more to do and that makes managing the work life balance challenging but important. You need to keep on top of your school workload and also find time for yourself, so that you can relax and unwind. I think it’s important to take time to reflect on your day, this is not only good for personal development but it lets you put the day into perspective.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into teaching?

Go in to teaching with your eyes open. This job is never boring, it’s hugely rewarding and has life changing outcomes for our students. Make sure you get into several schools to see them working, speak to the students and the staff. Education has moved forward a lot recently so it may be different to how you remember it. This city is an amazing place to educate young minds.

What do you do for fun in the school holidays?

I race motorbikes in the F400 class. My dad and I build, maintain and repair my race bike; (I do a lot of watching and making the cups of tea). He recently gave up racing himself after competing in the Isle Of Man Manx TT so it must run in the family. To be honest I have always had a love of anything that goes fast.

Tell us about the funniest thing that has happened to you as a teacher?

There are so many I’m not quite sure where to start. I want to write a book about the funny things students say. One that comes to mind is a student in one of my chemistry lessons asking if ammonia was, “what you got if you went outside with wet hair.” I didn’t know where to start addressing the errors and misconceptions with that one!

A science department I worked in ordered personalised lollies to be given to primary school children when we visited them with our science roadshow workshop. The order was intended to be for 500 lollies but in the fine print the minimum order was 5,000, so we had rooms full of them for years!

What qualities do you look for in a good teacher?

Most importantly you have to be in the job for the students. You need to be able to make good relations with the students and co-workers; have strong knowledge and passion about your subject and have a strong moral purpose because every child has only one chance at a good education.