Reflecting on her teaching career to date, Kristen has this advice for others: "It is really hard work but very rewarding. Don't judge the rest of your career by the first two years, because it gets easier. Be resilient, and don't worry about making mistakes."
"You have to remember it’s a journey, and not to compare yourself to people who are further ahead in their journey, because it’s not about them, it’s about you."
Kristen now conducts interviews for incoming scholarship applications, and she says some things are just as important as your knowledge of chemistry.
"I remember being really nervous about my subject knowledge, because I had taken a three year break between university and going into teaching. I was scared that I didn’t know enough." Nonetheless Kristen’s preparation paid off and she did pass the scholarship chemistry tests.
During the scholarship interview, candidates are asked to teach a mini-lesson to showcase their current abilities. "What we’re looking for in the interview is someone who can be personable, stick to time, and can aim to teach one thing well in the time they have, as opposed to getting through lots of content."
"Don't make it a lecture. Think about what the kids are doing – as opposed to what you are doing – and think about how you’re coming across, not just about the chemistry."
It's all about relationships
Kristen's favourite thing about teaching is working with young people, and she says that love of the subject on its own is not enough.
"Do it if you know you like young people, because it's actually more about relationships", she says.
"My favourite thing is when pupils ask silly questions or they are sarcastic. It's just really funny. And of course it’s great when they get their results back and they get a good grade. You think 'I did that – if I wasn't here that wouldn't have happened'."