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Thinking about becoming a teacher

(48 Posts)
EnglishWeddingGuest Sat 07-Nov-15 13:06:53

Am in my forties and had a full career - I have four different degrees and think I'm fairly organized - I've been in a very stressful job and done well - worked long hours

Am thinking of retraining as teacher - been wanting to do this for about five years now - teach around middle school age - grades 6/7/8 - - the change in pay will be a shock but one I'm ready for - I want to do something worthwhile

Am interested in views from teachers - what do I need to know - the good and bad and ugly

Leavingsosoon Sat 07-Nov-15 13:07:49

I'm posting so I can grin at the responses ...

Louise43210 Sat 07-Nov-15 13:18:39

I am a teacher - in 40s too. I love it but have several near breakdowns each year. At the moment I'm having lunch but have dine several hours of school work already on a Saturday. I will finish my lunch, sneak in an hour of work, take kids on prearranged outing, squeeze two hours of work in before tea, go to firework display, come back and do work after. Anything I don't do today will be done tomorrow in between ironing and kids homework. Got to do it - there's a deadline! If u don't mind that - fine - because you could be doing that this time in two years. You probably did similar in previous jobs so are aware. I'm not the type of person who thinks work after work is just for teachers! Like I say I love it but it does take over!

rollonthesummer Sat 07-Nov-15 13:26:54

I was going to post a reply, but though it was quicker for me to link to my reply from last week-


noblegiraffe Sat 07-Nov-15 15:39:47

Read this thread first:

Then if still interested, get into schools to observe lessons and talk to teachers.

Why middle school? Why not secondary? If you've got 4 degrees in anything STEM related you'll never be stuck for a job.

rollonthesummer Sat 07-Nov-15 16:31:22

I'm impressed with the 4 degrees! Were they all 3 year long ones?

manicinsomniac Sat 07-Nov-15 17:28:36

Go for it. It's a fantastic career. It can be hard but so can all jobs. Most of the time I love it and I can't think of anything else that would have enabled me to cope as a single mum and earn enough money to provide for them.

But, if I were you I would go into the independent system. I wouldn't consider going back into the state system while employment conditions and morale are what they are. Prep school age (similar to middle; 7-13 year olds) is absolutely delightful and you will get:

*a lot more autonomy
* a lot less paperwork
* smaller classes
* longer holidays
* (if you have children) massively reduced fees and round the clock childcare
* larger budgets

Salary depends on the school. Some are higher than state, most are around the same, some are lower. But even if it's lower I still think it's worth it.

GinandJag Sat 07-Nov-15 17:34:15

EWG, I'd like to encourage you to pursue this career change. I think teaching really benefits from more mature entrants with experience of life outside, as well as those who teach from the start.

I think a lot of complaints that many teachers have won't faze you at all.

laughingatweather Sat 07-Nov-15 17:51:21

I know someone who left a well - paid accountancy job and took a huge pay cut to go into teaching few years ago. He reloacted and works in a 'hard-core' inner city secondary school in London and lives in a tiny flat (had a big house in his home city) and still loves it. Like you, he left a 'better' career because he wanted to do something that he felt was more worthwhile.

A friend of mine left my profession (MH) ten years ago to retrain as a teacher and although she does longer hours in term time now she says; in comparison to MH it's far less stressful. Plus her DP is also a teacher and they have no DC so enjoy the holidays together and have several holidays abroad each year.

Working in MH, I also know several teachers who have been pushed to breaking point and beyond.

It all depends on you, your personality, what you want and expect etc but I think if you want to do it, go for it!.

derxa Sat 07-Nov-15 17:54:18

Awaiting encouraging replies

Foxyloxy1plus1 Sun 08-Nov-15 15:38:41

Don't do it. That is all!

noblegiraffe Sun 08-Nov-15 15:42:26

Interesting that this thread has had so few replies when the one about teachers quitting hit 1000 posts.

Leavingsosoon Sun 08-Nov-15 15:58:09

To be fair noble I think a lot of that was because it was in AIBU.

If OP had posted there she'd have been lambasted with teachers saying how dreadful it is.

chocolateshoes Sun 08-Nov-15 15:59:00

I've been teaching secondary for 22 years. I love my job but it is exhausting. I'm lucky I am able to work part time now which does allow work -life balance. I tend to do all my planning, marking etc on my days off which means I don't have to work evenings and weekends.

Middle school will limit you if you want to move schools as you won't have experience if teaching exam classes so I'd advise a standard secondary.

EnglishWeddingGuest Sun 08-Nov-15 16:21:56

Thanks for replies - really appreciate it

To answer questions:


Bachelor Economics and politics (full time 3 years) - wasn't really practical so did after I started working ...

Bachelor business and accounting (3 year degree but done part time whilst working) - very useful but not as interesting as economics and politics

MBA (done part time whilst working full time) - Realized that the MBA was useless for getting ahead as everyone has one now so ...

Master of laws (full time career break)

I do realize I am weird but I LOVE learning new stuff - if I could stay at university for ever I would :-))

middle school

I'm open to the level / grade of teaching - the only reason I thought middle is because my own children didn't seem to be interested in much until then - elementary / primary school (until about the age of 10) seemed more about understanding basics and learning how to get along with others - grades 6/7/8 seemed more about learning how to advocate for themselves and finding their groove

In any case, taking a step back, whats the best level to teach? I've read threads on MN about teaching objectives and oversight that sound horrendous (one post stands out regarding pink and green pens and personal learning objectives that sounded like they been created by some weird governmental minister on an acid trip). Which grade level is best ?

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Nov-15 16:30:58

In primary, "I've read threads on MN about teaching objectives and oversight that sound horrendous (one post stands out regarding pink and green pens and personal learning objectives that sounded like they been created by some weird governmental minister on an acid trip)." is absolutely standard practice.

Secondary seems to me to be a little less 'day to day' workload / overseen / weird marking-guideline intensive BUT it has bigger 'peaks' of stress and where behaviour is poor it is REALLY poor (in primary, to a first approximation, all children are smaller than you are, which does make a difference when it comes to the results of extreme behaviour).

i would try to spend a week in each level of schooling - splitting the primary between KS! (infants) and KS2 (juniors) as a volunteer / observer, before making up your mind. If you could visit 2 or more different schools of each type, that would also be useful to get an idea of the range.

EnglishWeddingGuest Sun 08-Nov-15 16:46:29

Thanks - what grades do you teach ?

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Nov-15 16:48:40

I retrained, btw, at a similar age to you, with many educational qualifications + a stressful middle management job under my belt.
Things you need to think about:
- How old are your own children, and when in the day / week / year do they need you? I have recently gone part time, not because I can't manage the school workload of a full-time job, but because a full-time teaching workload + a husband who is out of the house until 8-9pm every evening + teenage children with very full extra-curricular lives was increasingly hard to juggle.

- How used are you to relentless 'work until it is done' type jobs? This is where I think older applicants with previous job history have an advantage over younger ones - if you are used to working way beyond your contracted hours, relentlessly, week after week, teaching will be just another job of this type.

- How perfectionist are you? As an insightful poster on here once said, teaching tends to attract perfectionist, 'star pupil type' personalities, and the already high workload can be unmanageable without a healthy dose of 'good enoughness'!

- How do you feel about micromanagement and how 'compliant' are you prepared to be in the face of bizarre requirements that sometimes have no sense? Teaching can be a little 'Kafka-esque', with demands from all around (some of which seem meaningless and counter-productive), and the ability to not get overly worked up about this, while doing what needs to be done, is very necessary.

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Nov-15 16:51:24

EWG - I have taught a variety of primary age groups in first / primary / junior schools, but mostly KS2 (Years 3-6).

Another thing you need to think about - though it applies less if middle schools are common in your area and are not being phased out - is do you want to teach your subject, or do you want to teach children in all subjects, however bad you personally are at them?
I am better qualified to teach secondary science than i am to teach KS2 PE or Art, for example, but I choose to teach primary because I love teaching 'a child' rather than 'a subject' IYSWIM?

ImperialBlether Sun 08-Nov-15 16:54:01

I taught for a long time, left and would never ever return. I know a lot of women who've said and done the same.

ImperialBlether Sun 08-Nov-15 16:55:09

Oh and none of left because of the children - they were great. It's piss poor management (wide spread of schools/colleges), ridiculous mandates from government and constant scrutiny by people who weren't good at teaching themselves.

amarmai Sun 08-Nov-15 16:57:22

Yes to imperial- + it ruined my health. Maybe a private school will appreciate your amazing quals.

Whensmyturn Sun 08-Nov-15 17:01:07

I left teaching some years ago because there was zero job satisfaction. The children don't appreciate you - understandable, senior management give no positive feedback - they just want more from you so there is a feeling of paranoia that whatever you've done isn't good enough. Mature teachers aren't appreciated in my experience. Children respond better to younger teachers (or so senior staff think )so you're already losing before you start.

SplatterMustard Sun 08-Nov-15 17:04:24

(one post stands out regarding pink and green pens

green pens must be the in thing in primary schools, I was out the other and got a green pen out to write down a phone number and was asked if I was a primary school teacher!

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Nov-15 17:10:10

grin Spletter.

the pink ones are the REAL giveaway, because there is pretty much no other reason for any adult to have a pink Biro in their bag....

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