I just knew I wanted to change lives – Emmanuel Awoyelu

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My journey into teaching hasn’t always been smooth sailing, partly because I didn’t always want to be a teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved working with young people, I love teaching and learning new things but the job profile for a teacher (especially after working in a mainstream school for four years) just never appealed to me.

I guess I always doubted myself because of my own expectations of a teacher. I was convinced not many teachers had left school with four A-C GCSE’s and believe it or not, I just thought I didn’t fit the profile of a teacher. A young black male who has a bit of an East London twang to his talk and GCSE certificates that might as well have said “Thanks for turning up to the exam today”.

What I didn’t do was look at myself and see all the qualities I had to bring to the table. I was young; yes that is a quality thank you very much. I was relatable to the pupils I was working with (Important when working with inner city kids), I had a passion to make an impact in the lives of young people and I was willing to learn, to develop myself and be a better version of myself every day.

Up until the day I started my NQT year in September 2017, I still doubted myself.  Fortunately for me, I was employed in a special behaviour school. Sounds crazy but this is exactly where I wanted/needed to be. It was an opportunity to work with the children who were disadvantaged and to some extent written off, just like myself when I was a child. The role also suited the qualities I have to offer and I can only be grateful that a special school was crazy enough to employ an NQT to teach children with behaviour problems. That faith shown in me has contributed massively to my personal development.

Another key factor in my personal development is my participation in the development programmes that are available for teachers. I went into teaching wanting to make an impact on the lives of young people but through my teacher training I never considered with serious thought ‘how?’ - I just knew I wanted to change lives.

Now I have moved to the Diverse Leaders programme funded by the Department for Education (DfE). I am fully reminded that the teaching profession is one of the best, if not the best job, you could have. A career that allows you to make a positive impact on the lives of our future generation, by teaching and inspiring them using the ideas, talents and brains we have. WOW.

In education there is a whole community of people that not only shared the same goal, but a community that made me authentic. My experiences, values and knowledge of BAME communities provide experiences for others, some common some new. I can shape curricula to widen the experiences of my students. In a sector where only 7.4% of teachers are BAME, it is important that students get that chance to understand that diversity matters not only as a theme but as an evolution of society.

How can we create more diversity? Well for one, I am doing it now by encouraging more students from BAME to get into education careers. I know there is a cultural discord where teaching is not regarded in the same way as engineering or medicine but the reward of this career is far greater.

The #BAMEed network will guide you to a community to develop, coach and nurture more diverse teachers and leaders within our education system. From Head of departments and Head of year roles to Head Teachers and CEO’s of Multi-academy trusts there is support to advance careers. The impact that you can have in orchestrating diversity in education should not be underestimated.

Let’s transform education, together.

Emmanuel @MannyAwo


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