Lena Khudeza | Teach First

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Lena Khudeza

  • Studied: Human Biology, University of Birmingham
  • Taught: Science, West Midlands
  • Now: Retail Bank Manager, HSBC

I was the first person in my family to go to university and education has opened up so many opportunities for me. It’s what really drives my passion for teaching and for Teach First as well. I wanted to get something more than just a Qualified Teaching Status. I wanted to gain leadership skills and help a fantastic cause and mission while at the same time shaping my own future. The Teach First programme seemed like the obvious choice for me. 

I think the best days were spent doing ‘practicals’. With science, all the pupils think about are practicals. I also think they’re really important because I’m a visual learner too and I understand the importance of being able to do physical things in the classroom. Some of the experiments we did, like dissections, meant a lot of pupils were quite squeamish at first, but by the end of it they were all digging into the hearts and lungs. I would hear them go around school telling other pupils and teachers: 'Miss Khudeza’s class does dissections. Why can’t we do them?' That was a really good feeling.

I think the ‘out of school hours’ element of the Leadership Development Programme is really important because it enables you to go back to your network and dissect what you’re doing in the classroom, what you’re doing professionally and ways you can improve in those areas. It taught me you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; it’s not about revolutionising teaching by yourself. Learn from your colleagues and people that have done the scheme before you.

In the second year I was able to take my Year 9 pupils to the Jaguar Land Rover factory (where I had done my Summer Project) and show them how chemicals and materials are used and their relevance to the classroom and the real world, because I think that’s where a lot of people struggle with science. They tend to think ‘well, I’m not going to use this once I leave school, so why should I do it?’ However, the pupils were especially excited when they got to see the special vehicles that are made for celebrities! When they came back to school, and were still talking about it, that’s when I knew I had actually achieved something. It was fantastic.

One of the best lessons that I taught was about ‘designer babies’ with my Year 10 class. At the time it was mainly just a buzz word used by the media and my pupils didn’t really understand it. We broke it down within the classroom and I had a starter activity where I got them to choose different features from celebrities to create their own baby. We then went into a debate where they looked at different sides of the argument. They may have had their preconceived ideas on what they thought was right but over the course of the lesson they got to appreciate other points of view.

The Teach First programme organised a coach for me who was a Commercial Manager at HSBC. That was incredibly useful, because I was still a little confused about which direction I was taking in my career. My coach helped me within the classroom as well as professionally and when, after my initial two years with Teach First, I wanted to try something different, he helped me. We analysed the skills I had, the skills I wanted to develop, and where I wanted to go in the future. I am now a Retail Bank Manager on the HSBC graduate programme, which is fantastic. Although it’s completely different from the world of teaching, I am able to transfer a lot of the skills that I used.