Today we’re catching up with Sally-Jayne Braisby of SJB Teaching, who we first met on 4 August 2012. Where did Sally-Jayne want to be in a year’s time? She was pretty specific: “There are some subjects I enjoy teaching more than others. I like languages, English, maths, science, history and geography. I loathe PE and music. In a year’s time I would still like to be working with such a wide age-range as now, but I would love to be in a position where I can teach more of my favourite subjects and less of my least favourite ones. I’d also like to be doing more private tuition, as this is the most rewarding type of teaching: you can really see children growing in confidence as their understanding improves“. Detailed, specific plans can be very good for focusing the mind: let’s see how Sally-Jayne did!
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
I’m exactly where I hoped I would be. I wanted to be teaching more of the things I really enjoy, such as languages, and this year I have. I was invited back for the second year running to teach on a French course at one of the universities in Birmingham, and I spent half a term working in a private school teaching just French and Spanish.
I’ve been doing a lot of private tuition, which is another thing I wanted to be doing more of. At one point I had a waiting list, but happily I have now managed to fit everybody in!
I also said that I hope to be teaching less of the things I don’t enjoy, and I haven’t had to teach a single music lesson this year!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I’m still providing a supply service to schools, and I’m still doing intervention work and private tuition. However, my client base has changed slightly. When you interviewed me last year I was studying for my BSL Level 2 exams with the idea of working with deaf or hearing impaired pupils in the future. I’m now providing a lot of cover in a specialist school for deaf children, so that’s quite a big change!
The money I’ve spent on dyslexia workshops and the time I’ve spent doing my own research has also paid off, as I am doing more work with individuals who have dyslexia.
The age range for my private tuition has changed too. When I first set out I tutored just Year 6 pupils for SATs. Then because families were so happy with the progress their children were making, I was asked to tutor younger siblings, so the range grew from 10-11 years to 6-11 years. This year I’ve been asked to keep many of my pupils on to support them through their first year in secondary school. At the moment, I will only keep pupils on to the end of Year 7, as I’m not familiar with the curriculum for maths or English beyond that, but I’m planning to become familiar with it so that I can continue to support my pupils for as long as they and their families need me to. In fact, I spent the long summer holidays brushing up on GCSE maths!
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
The new experiences I’ve had this year mean that I’ve become better at what I do. For example, working with deaf children has taught me not to talk so much!
I wish I’d know that networking is easier than I thought it would be. I’m quite shy, so I’ve always steered clear of conferences and such like, but this year I have discovered that because everyone there has similar interests, it’s really easy to strike up a conversation. I’ve made some good contacts this year, and who knows where they could lead.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Be professional at all times, and don’t ever feel that it’s a waste of time giving advice – it’s amazing how much work comes from recommendations, not just from clients, but from the people you just took the time to chat to and help.
Also – don’t be afraid to spend time researching areas you find interesting – even if it’s time you could spend doing paid work. The effort I made learning about dyslexia and BSL has really opened up some exciting new avenues to me.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
If I’m still in exactly the position I’m in now, I’ll be happy. If I could change anything I’d like to do more language teaching in universities, and more work training primary school teachers ready for languages to appear back on the curriculum in 2014. That is all dependent on me finding time to get in touch with primary head teachers and university MFL departments, letting them know what I can do though!
Sally’s update provides a VERY good example of how important continuous professional development is, whatever your profession. She’s put that time in to update her learning and skills – as she says, devoting time to it that could have been spent on paid work – and has reaped the dividends in terms of new client bases and more diversity in the services she can offer. While it’s important not to dilute your brand, it can be very useful to widen the services you offer within your specialised area, and this is what Sally-Jayne’s been able to do. In my own work, I’ve bitten the bullet and bought some translation software to use in my localisation and translation editing work, and am spending the time I need to learn how to use it, so I can work with my clients using the software they use. Time spent learning will hopefully pay me back many times over in better workflows and happier clients. I hope Sally-Jayne’s in the same position she is in now next year, too! See how Sally-Jayne was doing in 2014.
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