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Q&A with Najma Khan

Najma is a trainee Maths teacher and a mother of two. How does she find time for it all?

Najma Khan, trainee teacher

What did you do prior to starting your Teacher Training programme?
I finished my studies in Maths and Islamic Studies in 2017. I studied at the Open University, via distance learning. As I am not from the UK, I didn’t have the GCSE qualification I needed to progress onto PGCE in 2017. I did my GCSEs in Maths and English so that I could start my PGCE in 2018.

What are your motivations for training to teach?
I care – I have compassion and understanding. I have a good subject knowledge of maths which I can combine with compassion within a school environment. I want to give children a chance – I can work with any group of children, particularly low attainment, so you can really see the reward.

How has the programme helped you to prepare for your time in the classroom? 
I have had no prior classroom experience before this. The way in which the tutors use language (e.g. by speaking calmly and slowly), they are modelling themselves on how a teacher should be and act. They make you ask, what would you need to consider if you were to take a lesson plan to a classroom? Things such as room size, seating plan, and equipment – it makes you think.

The tutors hammer home how much organisation and preparation and providing scaffolding is necessary, and they teach you to put yourself in the position to think about different responses – plan ahead with regard to different responses and how you would react to them. They prepare you to find out how to get the most out of students. These are things that I had never considered until I was taught.
 

If you could give advice to someone about to start teacher training at UCL Institute of Education, what would it be?
Don’t be put off by the narrative that it is very intensive and too tough – every job is tough but teacher training is very rewarding and worth the effort. You need to prioritise your tasks and stay organised. I’m a mother of two with many responsibilities and I manage to juggle work, family time and hobbies. I don’t have much extra time for much more socialising but I prioritise what is important and know my limits.

Najma Khan, trainee teacher

How are you finding the experience overall and has there been an element of your programme that has impressed you or been particularly valuable? 
The tutors are really worthy of praise. They are absolutely specialist in their field. The secondary subject leader worked behind the scenes and the department administrators work together so brilliantly. I have never heard complaints from other students which is very telling.

The tutors are always engaging – we are not just sitting back and listening to them. They provide a perfect model for teaching. They touch on different aspects of teaching and about how to put different theories in practice. Students are in constant communication with the Programme Leader Pete Wright and he always has taken complaints on board (such as providing microphones in class following a student’s suggestion). 

What is it like to train in a London school and how do you think it has benefited you?
It is so multicultural – such a diverse group of nationalities. Colleagues give each other insight into different lives and different education systems – they bring perspective from different countries, which enriches our own experience (students are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, China…). It shows us that we can bring/adopt something from different cultures. A useful skill when working with children in multicultural London is the ability to relate to and empathise with children coming from different cultures.

What impact do you think your time at the IOE will have on your future career – and where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I am greatly inspired by my tutors and plan to do a PhD in good time (maybe not for another 10 years). The tutors are inspirational and enthusiastic and have such a broad knowledge which helps their practice. 

Were there any challenges and how have you overcome them? 
Personally, I have had no challenges apart from finding time for everything, so having to remain organised and rigid in your routine, much like any other type of work.

How did you find your study modules?
Very good. The Professional Practice module was more about reflecting on your journey and developing teaching practice. In Maths Curriculum in a Wider Context everyone has the chance to approach this differently – everyone is able to choose their own research topic.

Is there anything else you would like to say about your teacher training experience at the IOE?
I would like to emphasise that there is really good support here. You never feel that you are left alone. Today I had a meeting with my tutor and they were very approachable and helpful. The IOE is doing its best to provide the best support possible. It’s very important to acknowledge this.