ABC Pathways teacher swaps sales for syntax
Stephen Hughes, an English teacher from South Africa at ABC Pathways, was working in corporate sales in the UK when he realised it was the training element of the job that interested him the most. He tells Wong Yat-hei about how this realisation saw him leave the corporate environment six years ago and move into teaching.
What is your academic background?
After finishing secondary school, I studied NLP [Neuro-Linguistic Programming], which is a tool for better communication in both sales and training. I also hold a TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certificate.
What does your job entail?
Unlike in a school, a learning-centre teacher will spend a great deal of their time in the classroom. I spend most of my day teaching, about six hours on an average day. I do some administration, such as lesson planning and report writing, but it’s really mostly teaching.
I teach children from the age of four up to about 15, so each class is quite different. It’s important to make sure that you know what’s coming up and you’ve prepared all the necessary materials in advance. Of course, none of this is possible without my double espresso to start the day.
What are the major challenges you’ve encountered?
A small percentage of my students get private lessons because they are either behind in school, or ahead. I’m not sure which is the greater challenge – to help a child overcome learning obstacles, or to motivate one that has none. There are challenges to be faced in almost every lesson, but if you’re passionate about teaching, you really get immersed in it, and it’s the challenges you relish.
What are your plans?
There are not many tiers to a career in teaching. I’m happiest in the classroom, so that’s where I intend to stay. I’m now looking for ways to put my experience to use in a charitable organisation to help under-privileged children learn how to read, but I think I’ll always be doing something around teaching.
What advice can you give those interested in the industry?
When considering most jobs, you can just tick off the job requirements that match with your skills. This is true of teaching to a point, but what you need to realise about teaching is that it’s not just a job, it’s a responsibility. You have enormous control over developing young minds, and you really owe it to them to do your best every day. Teaching offers incredible job satisfaction, but if you just want a pay cheque, you are doing your students a disservice.