Where are they now: Inspiring the next generation

Hani James, MRes 2012

Hani's research involved studying mum and pup behaviours.

My masters research involved studying mum and pup behaviours.

Since leaving the fantastic Seal Squad I’ve taken a break from research and moved into teaching – secondary science. This career move was actually entirely thanks to the opportunities presented during my time in Sean Twiss’ lab.

 I was never entirely sure what I wanted to do at the end of the masters, but I had a PhD and funding lined up so I guess I was planning on heading down the academic route. And then we had a few school groups come to the department and were in charge of teaching them about biology…… it was absolutely amazing! Their energy and enthusiasm was utterly refreshing and helped me to remember why I love science so much! Along with the chance to do some demonstrating for the first year practical course, this solidified my excitement for the idea of a career change.

 From that moment I was hooked. Once my time in Durham was done, I joined a teaching agency in London and was given a job at a school in Bethnal Green. For anyone who knows the area, I’m sure you can imagine that this was really a step into the deep end! It certainly wasn’t without its challenges, but if research taught me anything it was that challenges are there to be faced and beaten. Giving up isn’t an option! It was so worth it! I was put in charge of groups of utterly wonderful but in many cases completely misunderstood students, some on the verge of prison, most for whom it was their first or second year of living in England, a very small minority who had spent their entire lives in the area and had never left the road that the school was on.

 It was one of the steepest learning curves I have ever found myself on, but at the same time I was getting to watch the kids build in confidence and start to enjoy their work, I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience. Some showed a complete turn around in the year and watching them develop their self-motivation and enthusiasm for the subject made me buzz every day. That’s what the job is about!

 At the end of my time in Bethnal Green I was absolutely sure that teaching was the career for me, I moved to Exeter to complete a PGCE and have been working in my training school ever since. It’s very different down here, the behaviour and backgrounds of the children are nowhere near as difficult as some of those in London, but there are always new challenges!!

 I certainly miss the seals! As Charlotte said, I’ll use any excuse to sneak them into my lessons (not in the physical sense…there are undoubtedly rules about seals in lessons!!) and will happily spend hours talking about the amazing experiences I had on Donna Nook with Amy while we were collecting our data! I’m still ‘umming’ and ‘aaahing’ about going back into research at some point, but for the time being I have handed in my resignation to my school and am about to take a year off to head around the world and see what opportunities present themselves! This career has opened up the world to me, there are jobs all over the place for teachers at the moment. And I’ve got the Twiss lab to thank for pointing me in the direction of my passion!

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