Meet the Teachers

Posted on: 02/02/2017

Student have interviewed some of their teachers and this month we have featured Miss Mok, Mrs Peacock, Dr Aron, Miss Sheridan, Mrs Antoniou, Mrs Cohen.

Hi, I’m Miss Sheridan and I currently teach Biology at A-level, science at KS3 and KS4 and BTEC Health and Social Care here at Copthall.

I haven't always wanted to be a teacher. Throughout school, I wanted to be a doctor, like many people, but when I was applying for university I decided that this wasn't the career path I wanted to follow and instead I studied biomedical science. Once I finished university and got my degree , I still wasn't sure about what I wanted to do with this degree I had acquired but, personally, I found meticulous research boring. In addition to this, I knew my strengths were my ability to interact with people. I then decided to get some work experience and become a teacher and since then there hasn't been a day that I've regretted it!

I decided I wanted to become a teacher because I really wanted to help people and benefit others so they can fulfil their potential and their ambitions. I believe in a growth mind set in which students can build on their knowledge and ability. The brain is a muscle and it can be worked to improve its ability. Even before I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, my friends at university referred to me as 'the teacher' because I led the study lessons and when they failed to understand something I would be the one to explain it.

I really enjoy biology and I feel that it's important because it's based on life and life is everything!  Biology is defined as the branch of science concerned with the study of living things, or organisms. However, biology doesn't just include these two major sub branches; but biology also poses other challenging questions such as defining what life is. When I was a student I particularly liked biochemistry and how science works. My perspective has now changed that I've become a teacher and I really enjoy ecology and how different species interact with each other.

I believe that positivity is an important aspect of learning and if a particular student struggles to engage with the lesson I'm teaching I just try to understand where the disengagement stems from and try to produce ways in which the subject would appeal to that student. In my personal opinion, I feel that the needs of every student is different and varied and as a result my educational approach needs to be flexible, in which I believe it is. I've had several cases of students struggling with my subject and I feel that I broke through to them by making sure that they know that they have the ability to do it and show them that there are no barriers in stopping them to achieve. I've had students that have expressed an inability, "I can't do it" and "I don't understand it" are common phrases that I hear as a teacher, but these issues are easily tackled by showing a desire to help and relate the information to them.

Describe myself in three words? I'd say I'm passionate, positive and friendly. Therefore, I feel that I'm approachable; this is an essential quality for a teacher to possess. I feel very passionately about education and the right of every individual to have a good education. I attended a good comprehensive school and received a phenomenal education. There I learned valuable skills, made great friends and so many other things!

Science is something that is extremely important in the world we live in today. One reason is that science is responsible for innumerable advances in modern medicine. A second reason is that it is responsible for human use of electricity, a vital component of modern life. A third and most important reason is that it allows us to describe, define, investigate and ultimately try to understand the world in which we live and how it works. However, it's staggering to me the gender inequality in the world of science and technology; women make up just 12.8% of the stem workforce. This motivates me to educate young girls on the wonders that science has to offer and show them that science isn't what was considered to me a 'man's subject'. I feel that young women shouldn't be repelled from a subject because of the way a subject has previously been portrayed and marketed.

On a final note:  Interesting fact -  some crocodiles only eat once a year!

Miss Sheridan was interviewed by Ellie Costello in VI

Dr Aron

Head of Psychology-Dr Aron                   

Q1.Tell us about your journey-how you came to teach psychology?

Oh well, surprisingly I never studied psychology, nor did I have an interest in the subject area! One day however, I was in the careers room in school when I came across a university prospectus, and in this prospectus I saw that they taught psychology, so I read about it and increasingly became interested in the subject. This was quite intriguing as I never really heard about such a subject.  So, I found myself taking an interest in the subject and immediately informed my parents about this. They encouraged me to undertake this subject at university. So I studied psychology at the London School of Economics for three years and found myself enjoying it. After that, I thought to study market research, however did not enjoy the subject so I decided to go back to university complete masters in psychology and continued on to study it a PhD level. During this time I wanted to earn some money by teaching undergraduates psychology since I had a passion for audience interpretation. Following this, I then completed a PGCSE at the institute of education and then received my first job teaching at Copthall and I have been teaching here for 14 years!   

Q2. What do you enjoy about your role as both head and teacher of psychology?

Well the most important thing is that I love the subject and adore helping others learn the subject. I have a desire for them to develop a passion for the subject. I enjoy helping others who may be struggling with subject as well as tutoring trainee psychology teachers who would to take up teaching in this area. On a more serious note, I have high expectations of A-level psychology students and have an ultimate belief that they themselves have their own expectations of them self within the subject. I ensure that all the students meet their target grades through the monitoring of their progress throughout the year.

Q3. What is your advice for students who want to pursue psychology as a degree and as an A-level?

To do an A-level well I must say that they should have interest in the subject as well as checking the specification as to what the course entails. They are to achieve the highest grades possible in English, maths and science as they all apply to the subject. They must be prepared to work hard for the subject and have dedication to do the best that they possibly can and be ready to listen to feedback and complete all work to the best of their ability.

To study it further at a degree level, students must undertake work experience related to psychology. This could be at an old people’s home or a hospital. They must have relevant work experience, so for example if a student wants to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist they must have some work experience in a hospital! Not only that, they must read books that are interesting to demonstrate their commitment for the subject area during the interview. They should speak to individuals who already have a career within this field so they can gain an insight into the paths that psychology can take you and the experience of study. Lastly to say that obtaining a psychology degree is a good way into other career pathways.

Q4. What help/support do you offer for the students who study psychology?

I can say for sure that our psychology teachers are approachable and are on stand-by to offer 1:1 help. Personally, after every test that my students take I give them detailed feedback, targets to achieve and improvement questions. This will enable them to flourish as psychology students and emerge out of this course with the highest possible grades. After every assessment, my lessons are solely dedicated on feedback. I ensure that as the year goes on, towards the summer exams that I provide my students with practice exam questions.

Dr Aron was interviewed by Aqsa Rabbani Year 12.

English teacher - Mrs Antoniou

Why did you want to be an English teacher?

I spent 15 years working as a magazine journalist and I wanted to share my skills, which I acquired as a journalist, to children and I had also wanted to do something different with my life. I have two children and at the time, my daughter was half-way through primary school and my son was starting secondary school. When my son came home from school he showed me his homework and I found his English work very interesting, so I volunteered at his school for a while and did a teacher training course so I think my children really inspired me.

Do you think that girls excel more in only girl’s schools rather than mixed schools?

Most girls focus better at single sex school as in mixed schools they tend to not contribute as much as they care about a boy’s opinion and think ’If I put my hand up then I will be seen as a know-it-all,” which restricts their learning.

What jobs require English?

I would say that most jobs require you to do a lot of written communication and will need a good standard of English: Journalism, lawyer, copywriters and teachers for example.

What are the best aspects of being an English teacher?

I have an interest in the subject and I try to share my enthusiasm of the subject with the students I teach.

What characteristics of each year do you favour the most?

Well, Year 7s are very sweet and I find that they are hanging on to primary school which makes them enthusiastic. Year 8 are beginning to mature and move on from primary school while year 9s are developing as individuals and finding a sense of who they are and they are also quite humorous. Finally Year 10s and 11s are more mature; focusing on their GCSEs and you can start to talk to them as an adult.

Mrs Antoniou was interviewed by Melisa Ak and Trinity Ota 9H

Head of Humanities Faculty – Mrs Cohen

1)      What made you to decide to become a teacher?

‘’ I decided to become a teacher originally because I really enjoyed school a lot and when I did my degree in history I really enjoyed studying it  and finding out different things about different periods of time and I found the whole subject interesting, that I wanted to do something  with it when I left university. My brother and my sister in law also are both teachers and my closest friend is a teacher, so I decided to be a teacher’’.

2)      What do you enjoy about working in a school environment?

‘’What I enjoy about working in a school is that I do enjoy working with young people, and as I got older I certainly enjoyed it more and I think having children  has made me enjoy it even a lot more. Just understanding young people and wanting to help them and wanting to make their lives better or inspire them with the choices that they want to make in the future, and having conversation with them about their future and what I can do to help them make the right choices, and seeing them happy and achieving, so I very much enjoy that part of it. I enjoy working here in particular because I do love the students here as the girls are particularly positive, kind, respectful and hard working. I also like working here because I have made lots of very good friends here over the years and some that have left school already. But overall I am very proud to be working at Copthall School’’.

3)      How long have you been a teacher for and have you taught in any other schools before Copthall?

‘’ I have been a teacher for probably about 22 years and I have been here for about 16 years which is the same time as Miss Brennan joined. Before that I was a teacher at a school in Tottenham, which was much more difficult but I enjoyed working in a mixed school. And before that I just started my teaching career in different schools for about a term’’.

4)      What are your memorable moments about teaching in Copthall?

‘’I know that this may sound terribly clichéd but every year is a memorable moment  because it’s as though we just work over a long period of time for many years on jobs and then we move on. We start with every exam group at the beginning, so we are on a journey with you every time we take an exam class of GCSE , A level and an AS class. We are on that journey and the journey is the same for you in a way as it is for us. So  there’s never been anything that has stood out above that, just that every year I try as hard as I can to get the students ready for their exams as best as I can.  Students’ memorable moments are our memorable moments’’.

5)      Tell me about your educational journey in becoming a teacher and the head of humanities

Well I did my A levels and then I went to university to do history, and I did history with drama at Winchester University. I didn’t do well as I wanted to do in my A level and that was because my mum became very ill. But I was determined I went to university and I enjoyed myself a lot as I also met my husband in university, and then from there I did a PGCE at the Institute of Education (which is teacher training for a year) and so I was qualified as a history teacher when I was at my job in Tottenham. Then when I came to Copthall, I came as the Head of Faculty. But overall I enjoy teaching R.E. a lot more than teaching history’’.

Mrs Cohen was interviewed by Charlotte Schlichter VIC

Mrs Peacock, Head of Dance

When asked about what is the most exciting part of her job at Copthall as a Dance teacher and the Head of Dance, she says that it's the girls that she takes pleasure in teaching. She says that the students are "very enthusiastic, enjoy the subject and are happy to try out new ideas." She says she enjoys teaching because she is able to "teach dance at a very high level" to many students, from the starting-out Year 7s to the experienced A Level Year 13s.

Throughout her lengthy, twenty-four year career at Copthall, she says that her favourite memory that stands out the most is "the current Year 12 students performing on stage at Sadler's Wells Theatre with ENB". ENB is the English National Ballet, and Mrs Peacock is proud because of the effort that the hard-working girls had put in in order to succeed. They worked for three months for that performance, investing two hours a week, which is a huge commitment. "During the February half term, their well-deserved time off, the girls were rehearsing every single day!", she mentioned. Once the performance was closer, the students were forced to sacrifice their weekends for practicing, and it was worth it - their performance was absolutely amazing and Mrs Peacock was extremely proud of their accomplishment.

When asked about how she became a teacher, she answered - "I attended Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, which is one of the top dance colleges in the UK." Later on, she succeeded in getting a PGCE after a year. Once she received the teaching certificate, her first school was based in Leicestershire - her second in Manchester, and then came Copthall as the third. Very fortunately, she chose to remain at Copthall. "I settled here because I got married, and my husband lived in London - thus I decided to stay here. I have been teaching in Copthall as a dance teacher since 1993 and I completely love it!"

Mrs Peacock was interviewed by  Karolina Anna Kowalska, 10L

Miss Mok – Maths Teacher

Interviewers: Have you always aspired to become a Maths teacher?

Miss Mok: “Yes, definitely. From a young age I’ve always loved Maths and have wanted to teach the subject. I think around when I was in Year 11, I made the decision more solid. So, as a result, I studied Pure Maths at university and got my degree, then I worked for my dad to pay for my PGCE (teacher training) and eventually ended up here! I really wanted to give everyone equal opportunities to learn about Maths and to feel confident about the subject. I always had to work hard to achieve this and so I believe anyone can do it”.

Interviewers: You went to Copthall when you were our age. How was your experience then compared to now?

Miss Mok: “When I was younger, I loved it here! It was the best time of my life. I didn’t have many worries at the time, apart from GCSEs. Now, as a teacher, I can understand how stressful it was for my teachers, and I find that I can appreciate how much effort they put into teaching.”

Interviewers: What aspects of being a Maths teacher do you enjoy most?

Miss Mok: “I enjoy teaching the students and I really love it when my explanation of something helps someone understand it, or when I hear a student say ‘Oh, Maths isn’t that bad!’. Also, I feel that with all my students I have a great relationship with them, which makes the job worthwhile”.

Interviewers:  What inspired you to be a teacher?

Miss Mok: “In Year 11, my friend was struggling with Maths, so she asked for assistance so I offered to help her on Sundays. When her results came in, I felt a sense of pride because rather than my friend getting her expected D grade, she achieved a B.  That moment really inspired me to become a maths teacher.”

Interviewers: 70 million children can’t go to school. What could we do about this?

Miss Mok: “Lots of people focus on children’s education, which is great because children can fulfil their goals through what education gives them. To help the children that are unable to go to school, whether due to money or gender, I think that we should have more Mufti Days in order to raise money”.

Interviewers: Do you think some children take education for granted?

Miss Mok: “Yes, some children do take their education for granted and don’t understand that education is crucial. In fact, recently it was Armistice Day/Remembrance Day and it really touched me. I thought about how it had been 100 years since the war and how girls weren’t entitled to the same things. I appreciate the education girls have been given because now they can really achieve their aspirations. Now girls are supported by everyone and by their schools. Sometimes I find that girls think they’re not capable of Maths or of getting where they want, but they really can achieve whatever they want and I’m happy about it”.

Interviewers: What jobs need maths?

Miss Mok: “There a variety of jobs that require Mathematics, such as a game designer, engineer, accountant, roller coaster designer, jet fighter pilot, sports announcer and professional photographer.  Maths is an essential aspect of our lives!”

Miss Mok was interviewed by Melisa Ak 9H and Trinity Ota 9H