Live, learn, grow.

I have been teaching now for the past 17 years in inner London schools.  I feel that my experience within the teaching profession is not one of any special circumstance, but rather the life of a normal (my normal) ethnic person teaching other, mainly, ethnic learners in London.  My path has lead me to work in many inner London and suburban London schools and at the moment I am choosing to work in the fixed term supply capacity.   However, at the start I was also enthusiastic and full of creativity and ideas to help learners and I actually had a plan for career progression.  That is where the delusion of working hard, being recognised and promotion ended for me.  I have been racially victimised, abused and used in order for another person (be it a WASP or another ethnic person) to be promoted and gain increases in salary at my expense.  This is not a new phenomenon, however, it is one that many people have to endure and live with.  

My advice to all teachers that are now living with this reality and the mechanics of being a BAME and a female BAME, that they never expected is as follows.  Believe in yourself and live life, enjoy your lessons and ignor the jealousy that surrounds your shining light.  This may seem simple, however, it is the hardest to do.  I have learnt that as an ethnic teacher people well try to use me and keep me down, but the quality of my teaching and relationship with learners is what keeps me sane.  Go back to basics.  This does not mean that you should not fight for your rights.  An older African teacher once told me "know your rights, even if they don't like you, they will respect you".  This has kept me in good stead.  Know this, education is a business, and certain members of staff are only interested in remuneration increases. Simple.  Everything I do in the class room is for the benefit of the learners, everything outside the class room is for my own external and internal benefit.  I do not want to disadvantage anyone, at times you need to fight for your own rights and for the learners.  As supply now I charge for SoW, for any administration I have experience, for any extra hours worked and to attend meetings.  Another strong piece of advice is to constantly learn and stay relevant.  As a BAME or female BAME you need to be on top of your game or you become irrelevant.  This has helped me to demand increases in my pay and to negotiate my working conditions.  I am trying to beat the system designed to fail us and to keep us down, and I am much happier knowing that I can defend my right to work in a supposed equal setting.  I am now master of my own destiny in teaching and in this environment it's a teachers market.

Author Profile

Mehmet-Ali Ahmet

Mehmet-Ali Ahmet

Teaching in inner London schools for 17 years

1 story


Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 6 months ago
Mehmet some great advice here for #BAMEed and #WomenEd - self-worth and salary negotiation are a recurring theme. Are you following @womenedLondon as they have events arising too?
Mehmet-Ali Ahmet Mehmet-Ali Ahmet @maa1975 6 months ago
Thanks for reading. It's time to take our destiny back and not leave it in the hands of others
Allana Gay Allana Gay @allanag13 6 months ago
A strong sense of self worth and continuing to improve is important for BAME teachers to maintain education careers. Thanks for raising the issue
Pran  Patel Pran Patel @mrpatel 6 months ago
Mehmet Ali you again have been a source of support and strength here. Thanks for sharing this (so others may also share in your awesomeness)
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