I started my GTP application statement with the sentence "I have always found mathematics difficult", which is possibly a weird way to sell myself as a trainee maths teacher. I found GCSE straightforward enough, but really struggled with A Level Maths and Further Maths, compounded by the fact that we did the A Level in Year 12 and Further A Level in Year 13 on half the teaching time; I remember my teacher covering the fairly hefty integration chapter at the end of Core 4 in about three hours, which left me completely mystified.
Despite this, I'd always really enjoyed maths; I liked pattern-spotting and the rush of working through a challenging problem and getting the correct answer. The little bits of mathematics history I got from my dad (not a "mathematician" or maths teacher, just interested in everything) kept me ticking over through the boring bits of the syllabus.
With a vague notion that having a Maths degree would make me infinitely employable, I picked a Joint Honours Maths and German degree, with a year in industry. At this point, my goal was still getting onto a graduate programme for some unspecified big company at the end of my (then) four-year course.
As the first summer break was looming, my mum increasingly started nagging me about getting some form of work experience. I started exploring internship options and reading through the role descriptions - worryingly, none of them sounded like something I'd be interested in anymore. The idea of sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day wasn't particularly appealing. Furthermore, I'd already decided to switch from Maths/German to Maths/Philosophy at the end of my first year, possibly decreasing my employability on paper but massively increasing my enjoyment and the value for money I was getting out of my time at university.
A few weeks into the summer employment hunt, my mum emailed me a link to the Student Associates Scheme - they offered quite a hefty sum for three weeks spent in a local school. I decided to give it a go, and loved every minute of it. I looked forward to getting up in the morning, enjoyed my day thoroughly, then went home and told everyone who would listen what I'd discovered or learned that day.
After that, I was looking for any possible opportunity to get back into schools and do more mathematics. I volunteered at my old middle school that summer, I chose a module called "Maths into Schools" during my second year, which linked me with a very challenging comprehensive in the middle of Wakefield, then did some more volunteering at my old high school that summer. It sounds cheesy, but I didn't feel like I had a choice when I was offered a GTP place after graduation - I honestly couldn't see myself enjoying anything else more.
I found my GTP year really, really challenging - as I was salaried, I was essentially used as a maternity cover for the year, and had my own classes from October half term. Fortunately, this meant that my NQT year was relatively straightforward.
Following a move to Yorkshire at the end of my NQT year, I've now spent four years at my current school, taken on some extra responsibility and set up my website. I still enjoy teaching, but I know it's important to keep challenging myself; I had a big blip early in this academic year when I stopped looking forward to going to work in the morning (an experience I'd never had before) and half-considered a career switch, but I realised that I'd let myself get bored with the job. Joining Twitter, developing my website further and attending the conferences reinvigorated me, and I'm pleased to say that I'm feeling good about the looming start to this academic year.