Daniel Jones is a lecturer in maths, English, personal development and work-related studies for construction learners at Walsall College.
He talks about his passion to make a difference to his students’ lives and of the power of FE to transform lives and opportunities.
I come from a teaching family – my mother, sister and father have either taught or are currently teaching. Although it wasn’t my initial intention, working as a national vocational qualiﬁcation assessor led me towards teaching. In fact, I always seemed to be on the periphery of teaching, whether it was training care staff or helping to teach self-defence with my old Krav Maga class.
I studied at Birmingham City University and was particularly inspired through my research project on the achievement rates of disenfranchised young people. For me, choosing to work in Further Education was an opportunity to contribute to the education and learning of young people, and in particular to support those from different ethnic backgrounds to achieve their potential.
Work is hard, but it’s fun, and that’s made possible not only by my colleagues, but also by my students. They come from all walks of life and all bring their own unique personalities, cultures, beliefs and backgrounds to share.
Those influences can impact people’s learning styles, so as a teaching team we’re always thinking of innovative approaches to help our students relate to the subjects we’re teaching.
I admire the fact that we’re so forward thinking. We look to history, philosophers, and sociology theories for inspiration, weaving new and interesting ideas into our lessons.
It’s amazing to see how a subject like maths, which someone might really struggle with, suddenly becomes relatable.
The thing that inspires me most is all my students. The fact that I know I have the opportunity to influence someone’s life is so important to me. I like to talk to my students about aspirations and to inspire them to work hard to achieve their goals – whatever they may be.
Working in a deprived area of the country means that some of our students may not be focused on learning or motivated to succeed. This means that we must ﬁnd new and innovative ways to ensure that our learners are able to achieve positive outcomes.
Many of our students come to us with low confidence and low aspirations, and they leave us as adults who are full of ambition and hope. Once that change happens in a student’s life, you then see them start to transform. Having an influence in their lives and helping to shift their mindset is why I love teaching so much.
It’s important to have a passion for what you do. With passion and honesty, your intentions become clear to those you wish to help, which helps me to get student buy-in as I’m very passionate.
I like to think that I’m approachable and focus on making my lessons as engaging as possible. This is not to say that we must become entertainers, but certainly there is a space to add humour to lectures or incorporate games into lessons.
Most important of all, learning should be inclusive, no matter the circumstance, so teachers have a huge responsibility when ensuring that all voices in the classroom are heard.
Whether you’re improving your own knowledge of your teaching subject, or challenging yourself to learn something completely new, it’s so important to keep learning and growing as a practitioner.
I want to be the best teacher I can be. The better I am, the more opportunities I create. The better I am, the more of my students succeed.
The practical tools and resources that the ETF and SET offer are invaluable. I have the ETF Professional Standards printed out and pinned next to my desk, which acts as a brilliant reference tool when I’m establishing areas where I could develop my competencies through further CPD.
The peer support aspect of my SET membership is a lifeline. Reading other people’s experiences, and feeling reassured that I’m not the only one to have experienced that challenge makes me feel connected. It gives me the confidence to try a new approach, and most importantly it reminds me that we’re all working towards the same goals. It reminds me that there’s a whole network of people who want to share ideas and learn from each other.
Regardless of the subject or the sector, we’re stronger together. I love that feeling of community.
Find out more about our Together we transform initiative, and view other case studies, highlighting the transformative impact that the Further Education and Training sector has on lives across the UK.