Why I became a teacher

Added: Over a year ago by Royal Society of Chemistry

Marina Mavrou, an RSC teacher scholar, talks about how her passion for science led her into teaching chemistry.

I studied BSc. Biotechnology at University College London. During my studies, I volunteered as a Science mentor, supporting students from disadvantaged families with their homework. As part of my final year’s research project, I had to investigate whether a newly formed drug-protein interacts with another highly important protein in the immune system. Being stuck in the lab for long hours made me realise that working in a lab is not something I particularly enjoyed. I always loved interacting with people. Hence, I was looking for a job that could combine my passion for science and my presentation skills. Straight after my studies, I found a job as a chemistry academic mentor in a state school in East London. Chemistry was one of the A-levels I really enjoyed studying and I felt very comfortable teaching it. I absolutely loved working in a school, it reminded me of all the core values my school education has taught me.

Two years later I came across an advertisement of available scholarships from the Royal Society of Chemistry to complete the Post-Graduate Certificate in Education. I applied and got offered a scholarship to study at the Institute of Education (UCL) and qualify as chemistry teacher. Since then I have been teaching chemistry at Kensington Aldridge Academy to students from the ages of 12 to 18. Looking back I would not change a single choice I made. I am fulfilled with this job and I find it extremely rewarding. I wake up every day having a clear purpose. Being a teacher carries a huge responsibility. Teachers have an impact on students’ lives and can inspire them to achieve their goals. They can change young peoples' future.

Working in a school, however, is very demanding as I am constantly on the move; prioritising jobs, teaching, mentoring, planning lessons, contacting parents, marking books and tests… Jobs are never-ending. Funny enough, this is what I love about my job. There is no chance of getting bored and it has nothing to do with a typical 9 to 6 office job.

I cannot think of another job as rewarding as teaching. The moment your students are smiling because they feel confident; the moment they understood a challenging concept and they are able to explain it to others; the moment they see that their grade has improved; the moment they come into the classroom full of energy; These are moments that make me proud to be a teacher and help me want to be the best teacher I can.

My best experience was when I spoke to a student I had been teaching at KS4 who was definite back then that chemistry would not be one of her choices at A-level. Two years later she told me that 'I won' as she had chosen A-level chemistry after she got an A* grade in her exam. She said: 'I would like to thank you for being such an enthusiastic and passionate teacher who believed in me when I didn't. This was what made me work for this grade.' I never expected such words. I was blown away.

I am grateful for the choice I made to get into teaching and for joining the Royal Society of Chemistry as it has supported me a lot with chemistry specialised mentoring sessions from very experienced chemistry teachers and classroom materials as well as online courses on key concepts that are being taught in chemistry. All the training sessions I have attended helped me teach more carefully planned lessons, especially tackling common misconceptions. Being an RSC member also shows clear determination to be an outstanding chemistry teacher. I find it vital to be part of this chemistry society and have links with specialists in my field. This is how we evolve in the field we are. Employers always look for people who aim to constantly develop.

Marina Mavrou | Teacher of Science
Kensington Aldridge Academy

Click here If you would like to find out more or apply for a teacher training scholarship.