Supti Akhtar – Oxford University History BA, Teach First English Teacher 

Joining Teach First has been a whirlwind of a journey and one that I am so thankful for. After I graduated last year, I did consider going into the corporate industry for work and as the eldest child of my family, I knew I wanted my family to feel financial stability. On the other hand, I love working with children – the energy, joy and challenges they could bring to my everyday work life is something I wanted to jump straight into so Teach First sounded like the best pathway for me. I have learnt something new almost every day, from the way children learn and retain information to never leave a cup of coffee on your desk – accident waiting to happen. 

To me, I am not doing anything revolutionary, just a teacher trying to teach. Hundreds of years people have been doing the same thing right? Over time though, I realised what my presence as a brown, proud Muslim, female teacher does for my students. Almost every lesson in my own classroom I greet students in Bengali – because why not, unapologetically say my everyday Islamic phrases out loud in and around the school (like Alhamdullilah), and freely talk about the struggles and hardships in my university experiences. Conversations with my pupils in KS3 up to Sixth Form have shown me that my unapologetic nature on my identity and who I am makes a difference to them, for me it is nothing new but for children developing their mindsets in their teenage years, they need teachers/role models like this. What students are taught about the world in the classroom are 100% important, and my next professional goal is to do as much as I can within my school community to de-colonise the English curriculum I teach. Students learn a lot about British war poetry and classic British authors but it is up to me to expose them where possible to a richer history in our curriculum and a wider-global perspective. 

It is just as important to remember how much our own presence and behaviour as teachers could affect what our students will be like beyond their school community. Are we shaping our children to be curious, social and kind humans? Are we modelling this sort of behaviour ourselves? I take pride and happiness in the person I was during my studies and who I am at the start of my career – unapologetically proud of my religion and culture, so I hope that one day my students, whatever background they come from, feel the same in the future. 

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