Ian Jordan

Ian Jordan, MEd Education

Ian completed and MEd in Education and worked as Head of Transition and Head of Year 7 in a secondary school before taking early retirement to turn his thesis into readable book form.

I chose Exeter mainly because of it's excellent reputation for education courses. I was aware that all the lecturers really knew their stuff and as I progressed through my MEd this certainly proved to be the case, as they were both extremely knowledgeable and inspirational.

To a lesser extent it is also my 'local' university, so access to facilities was really easy and even now I hold an 'external borrower' ticket for the university library, in order to carry on my research.

As my course was a three year, part-time commitment, my enjoyment came from interacting with my fellow students and the stimulation of the lectures which led me to wanting to try out new ideas. I also enjoyed the feeling of learning something new and being challenged to use that newly acquired knowledge for a practical and useful purpose.

I was in a slightly different situation to most students who complete their studies, as I was thirty years into my career.

Having said that, the research I did and resulting dissertation had a great impact on the way in which I and other staff dealt with behaviour problems for those children with challenging disorders, such as Asperger's, Attachment Disorder, and ADHD.

My position within the school as Head of Transition and Head of Year 7 in a secondary school meant that I was able to implement a behaviour programme for the children as soon as they entered the school, so that vulnerable youngsters could be supported and mentored right from the outset. The programme is called SEEB (Self Esteem, Expectations and Boundaries).

As I have just taken early retirement, I am currently busy turning my thesis for my recently acquired PhD into a readable book form.

One thing that is for certain when embarking on a career in teaching — there is no such thing as a typical day. That, in essence, is what is so fantastic about the profession. While there are times when you think, 'That lesson could have gone better.', or 'I don't think I handled that situation quite right.', the inner feeling of fulfilment you get when a child learns something new, or understands a concept for the first time, in my opinion, far outweighs any minor negatives you will come across. The fact that as a teacher you are changing, supporting, encouraging and enhancing young lives for the future is just as rewarding as when the exam results come out and you see the pupils gain the grades they want for their future.

Another great thing about teaching, as I'm just discovering, is that at the end of it there really is quite a good pension!

My studies at Exeter taught me to look at education problems in a different and broader perspective. I have learned how to take a wide view of a topic, then gradually hone in on what is the most important aspect, and then investigate any research and tried methods of dealing with it. I have since continued to use these skills in the further research that I have undertaken.

When my Head of Sixth Form first leant that I wanted to become a teacher, his advice was that you have to start by being tough. You can always ease off, but you can't become tougher if you start weak. That nearly put me off completely, but that was 1975!

Basically, know and love your subject, be passionate about it, because that often rubs off on the children. Respect the children for who they are and what they are capable of doing and make sure there are classroom rules and stick to them. That way the children will respect and listen to you; just think back to the teachers you liked and respected, think of why that was and follow their lead. That way you will have a wonderful career ahead of you.

I am writing a book on behaviour management in secondary schools, although I'm still trying to think of a snappy title for it. I already have three children's books out at the moment, so I might carry on and add to the series. Alternatively I might get a part-time job to avoid my partner using my 'spare time' to get me to muck out her horses!

Make sure you stand out from the rest in some way, especially on a CV. When you apply for a job your CV will be with loads of others, almost all saying the same sort of thing, and probably showing similar qualifications. Therefore it has to be something else that makes you stand out from the crowd — it could be an interest you have or an unusual sport, or if you have achieved an exceptional standard at something, try to find something that will set you apart from all the rest. If you can't think of anything, it's never too late to start something new.