Foto: David Meulenbeld

Suddenly you know: you're becoming a teacher

Redactie VU Magazine27 November 2023

Faye Best (29) radically changed her career: from working in sustainability to becoming a maths teacher. „I haven't regretted a single day.”

From her classroom in a secondary school in Zaandam, Faye shares her career move via Zoom. „Oops, hold on,” she laughs as the school bell rings, drowned out by the excited shouting of children.

So, how does one shift from sustainability to teaching maths?

„As a child, I always wanted to do something meaningful for the future. I was interested in sustainability but wasn't sure in what capacity. The broad bachelor's degree in Science, Business, and Innovation at VU Amsterdam suited me well. After graduating, I started as a sustainability pioneer at Zaanstad municipality. It sounded great, but it turned out to be a lot of organising with little substance. Later, when I worked at a consultancy dealing with data, the work was more substantive, but it still wasn’t the right fit for me."

„During the pandemic, I found myself working alone in my attic, missing human contact. After returning from maternity leave, I realised that this wasn't it for me."

Was it hard to make a new career move?

„Definitely. It's strange when you've been fixated on a certain path and once you reach your goal, you realise it's not what you wanted. At first, it was hard to admit that to myself. It led to burn-out symptoms, and I had no choice but to act. Through coaching, the idea of becoming a maths teacher emerged. I was apprehensive and wondered if it was too late or if I’d missed my chance, especially with a young family and going back to school. But I haven't regretted it for a day. There’s nothing worse than doing something you don’t enjoy and that doesn’t energise you."


Was it obvious for you to pursue a teaching degree at VU?

„I found VU a pleasant university during my bachelor's. It was compact and well-organised. Moreover, I liked the structure of their teaching programme. Unlike other universities, VU's programme is practically oriented. On Mondays, I had a full day of classes and peer meetings, and I could apply what I learned during the week while working at a school."

„Knowing why you’re doing it makes a difference. Everyone in the programme was very motivated. We could share our experiences, like how to manage an unruly class, deal with unresponsive students, or the feeling of sending a student out for the first time."

What do you enjoy about teaching?

„I love it when I see a class actively engaging with an assignment. It often works best when I connect with their world. For instance, I created a lesson series on Spotify. The students had to analyse a dataset and write a report for a fictional emerging music label interested in the music industry's development over the years."

„Sustainability is slowly finding its way back into my life. I recently developed a practical assignment on wind energy, where students had to work with a dataset and do mathematical modelling on the computer. It shows how all the pieces eventually fall into place."