Compassion is the key value I try to teach students

Jan 11, 2014 by

After two years of Teach First, Hannah Mathews took a break from teaching but supply work brought her back and helped her see the job’s potential for making a difference

Hannah Mathews teaches health and social care at The City of London Academy. Her scheme to send students into care homes for older people is bridging the age gap and helping students from deprived backgrounds into employment.

I left teaching after the first two years of Teach First but came back. I never went into the scheme thinking I would be a teacher. I just thought it would be a fantastic opportunity, a chance to make a difference and a challenge. I just wanted to try something else. So, I did two years in marketing instead, working in an office. But that wasn’t quite satisfying me either so I meddled around with a few other things. I did a masters degree in psychology, as well as policy work, coaching, and supply teaching to keep the funds going. To my surprise it was supply work I enjoyed the most. I was given a longer placement at my current school because of the ash cloud in Iceland in 2010. Somebody noticed me teaching and asked if I would stay. There was a full-time position to teach psychology and the idea of seeing students more consistently drew me back. Then the post for a teacher in health and social care came up. It’s not really what I was trained to do, but I took on the job.

The idea to send students into care homes came naturally. Health and social care is a BTEC, a vocational qualification, so I try to give students as much hands-on experience as possible. One thing we do is work a lot with a local nursing home. Going to a care home and talking to an elderly person can be really daunting for a teenager. They have no idea what they’re going to say or do. Initially they are not very excited, but as soon as they are faced with the challenge, standing outside the front door of the care home, they become very nervous. The adrenalin kicks in and they realise that talking to an elderly person is not easy. Afterwards, however, they cannot stop talking about it for days, weeks, or even years after their visit.

Health and social care really meets the needs of my students. Most students at my school who study health and social care are white, working class girls – one of the most underachieving groups. If I was teaching them psychology, they wouldn’t be enjoying it. But health and social care is a subject they can achieve in and experience. I can take them down to the care home tomorrow and they can get a real sense of accomplishment. It’s about widening those comfort zones just a tiny bit and opening them up to the possibility of getting a job afterwards. A lot of them do get work because they’ve got the right attitude – they’re caring, compassionate and are willing to get stuck in.

Compassion is the key value I try to teach students. If I can teach that to students at this age, hopefully that will underpin everything they do in the future. My students get an awful lot out of showing compassion to somebody else. It makes them feel much better, more powerful and able to bring about change. It’s lovely for the elderly people as well to see that teenagers can be caring, can be compassionate and they have a really good giggle together a lot of the time. It widens everyone’s horizons.

Caring for my dying dad fired my passion for health and social care. Dealing with elderly relatives was probably the extent of my social care experience. More recently, however, my dad had cancer for quite a few years and sadly died six months ago. I was very involved with his caring, which we did at home because of my mum’s nursing and social care background. I was home every weekend, helping my dad – moving him, sitting him up, lying him down and feeding him. I of course came into contact with an array of health care professionals and the difference a compassionate cleaner can make to your day is astounding. I pass that on to my students every day.

If you’re working with someone more vulnerable than you, it doesn’t matter what your job is – whether you’re a cleaner or a surgeon – if you show compassion, you will make a massive difference to that one person. You have the power to change their day, no matter who you are.

Every single day you’ve got a potential to make a difference. In reality it probably only happens once in a blue moon but at the end of every day I go home and think maybe that little pep talk I gave will stick in student’s head and help them. Or maybe that activity they did in class will help a pupil get that A in an exam. At the end of the day, you always think you might have made a difference in someone’s life, which I didn’t get in the other jobs I tried.

via Compassion is the key value I try to teach students | Education | Guardian Professional.

Education News
by Education News
Find us on Google+

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.