February is my favourite month! Guess why! Both of my parents celebrate their birthdays in February! Some of you may be aware of my dad’s passing in December. Next week, he would have been celebrating his birthday. As I went through his belongings, I came across a page on which he had written a bit about himself. Although he had told me a lot about different aspects of his life numerous times, I was deeply touched when I read his story which revealed his passion and I want to share this with you as his personal experiences helped shape me into the person I am today. My mother also contributed to this.
Teaching has always been my first love. In fact, my professional career began as a Primary School teacher with the Government of Montserrat where I taught from 1970 to 1980. I was inspired to teach my own experiences at school. I was privileged to be instructed by teachers who were enthusiastic, dedicated, hardworking, patient and friendly. I was intellectually challenged and motivated to learn. Some of those exciting lessons are still etched in my memory. My teachers always encouraged me to “persevere” and strive to achieve my highest potential. My teaching experience commenced when I was fifteen. I received in-service training and performed with distinction. Teaching was both a challenging and rewarding experience but I enjoyed it immensely. I had opportunities to work with students and help them improve academically as well as emotionally. Even to this day, I feel a sense of pride when I am notified of the accomplishments and achievements of my past students. I sometimes had to counsel and advise students. I developed a good working relationship with all students, parents, the headteacher, other teacher and ministry officials. In addition, I maintained a keen interest in extracurricular activities. I took students on hikes and organised field trips and leisure activities. I gained a lot from teaching.
I developed good written and verbal communication skills, organisation and planning skills, management and negotiation skills, listening and reading skills, observation and assessment skills. Moreover, I learnt to work well as a team. It was disappointing when I had to leave teaching to take up an administrative post in the Civil Service. It was considered to be a promotion but my heart was still with teaching. I was so concerned about some students who had learning difficulties that I offered free tutoring from my home after work. The offer was accepted enthusiastically by both students and parents. I worked in senior management positions with various Government Ministries for more than twenty years. During that period, I acquired many qualifications. I lectured and trained other members of the Civil Service. The training was in office and financial management as well as Human Resources. In order to be promoted to the top management positions, I had to demonstrate certain competencies. This was done through effective teamwork and commitment. I was able to command the respect and support of staff members. I conducted my work and managed my staff competently. I was often praised and admired for my strong organisation and management skills, problem-solving skills, negotiation and interpersonal skills.
In 1999, I graduated from Middlesex University with a Master’s degree in Human Resources. Although this is not a teaching qualification, the knowledge gained could be applied in teaching. My research has helped to broaden my perspective in various ways. My recent experiences as a student have made me more determined to continue in the field of teaching. Due to family commitments and the ongoing volcanic crisis in Montserrat, I had to relocate to the United Kingdom. On arrival, I registered various courses to upgrade my knowledge and skills. I have been employed as an insurance consultant and a trainee/manager of a residential home. However, my ultimate goal is to teach. I am currently registered as a part-time student on the FE Certificate in Teaching stages 1&2 at the College of North East London (CONEL). I hope this course in Literacy will put me on one step closer to my goal. I am confident that I can be a successful and effective teacher in Literacy. I have participated in teaching during placement while on the course and the response from the students was encouraging. I want to be an active participant in the team that is working to help students improve their Literacy skills.
I have the ability to tutor students with differing skills from diverse background. I am dedicated to helping people achieve their dreams and improve their academic skills. What a better way to accomplish this than through teaching? It is hoped that I will be given the opportunity to pursue my career in teaching.
Teaching was always my dad’s first love. He was passionate about teaching and this was reflected at home. He spent a lot of time with me. He made me do extra work at home straight after school. If I did not understand something, he found different ways to teach me and help me understand. Even on weekends, he made me read 2-3 books to help improve my vocabulary and be prepared for school on Monday. I always loved going to school. My dad impressed on me the value of getting a good education. I loved learning and he made me love learning. I tried to learn something new every day. He also took me to different places which helped me to improve my learning. For example, he taught me how to read maps and find my way around London on buses and trains. I always looked up to my dad but wondered if I could be better than him. I just wanted to be a little smarter so that he would be proud of me. My dad never allowed my deafness to prevent me from achieving my dreams. He was a well-educated person and he wanted me to follow the education system and do well at school. I was not the sort of person who wanted to throw away my education. I knew it would be difficult as a deaf person attending school and university. My childhood was like a roller coaster but my experiences made me more determined than ever to follow my dreams. I will continue to work hard and aspire towards my highest potential. Though the future looks daunting, I will continue to do my best and give of my best!
My mother taught me a great deal about life. She showed me how to have fun; encouraged me to make friends and participate in sports activities. If I was stressed with work, my mother either took me out for a meal or she advised me to go out and socialise. She also wanted me to do well at school. For her, my school work was always to take priority! When I did not complete my school work and wanted to play with my friends, she said, “Thomas, your friends already finished their work before they go out to play and have fun! You have not finished yours so you cannot have fun!” This made me think, “If I finish my work quickly then I would be able to hang out with my friends!” Sometimes I sat down and did my work. I had to make sure all my answers were correct and the work was done properly! My mother and dad checked my work and made sure it was correct before I was allowed to go and play or socialise with my friends.
My mother is intelligent, elegant, quiet and charming but strict when it came to school work, discipline and manners! She liked things to be done quickly and if she asked you to do something she wanted it done immediately! You never knew what went on in her mind. Sometimes, she did not have to speak but the look you got made you scramble to do what she asked! Whenever I need advice, my mother is the perfect person to ask because she had a way of giving me different perspectives on things if I asked general questions about life. Though my mother may be unpredictable at times, she was never afraid to say what she thought. That is one of the traits I apparently inherited from her. I am a quiet person by nature. Some people may consider me vain but I think highly of myself! I like to dress well and look handsome! I like to think a lot and think outside the box.
Both of my parents influenced and inspired me in many ways. I will do my best and continue to make them proud. Even though my dad is no longer around, I know he would have been proud of me! In the coming weeks, I will post videos and blogs about the experiences of being a deaf person in higher education. Recently, I did a lecture at St Mary’s University talking to students about deaf Sports and deaf people in higher education. I will share that experience and many more. Be sure to look out for my upcoming blogs!