Considering teaching(9 Posts)
I'm not sure if this is the right place on MN for this, but I wanted to pick your brains/ask your advice.
I'm thinking of a career change and moving into teaching. My question is how can I most easily do this? Do I just need to do a PGCE course? Or something else?
I am currently an academic at a top university and have a BSc and PhD. I give regular lectures and small group teaching (as well as supervise BSc projects and PhD students), although I have no "formal" teaching qualifications. I'm not even sure what age groups I would want to teach - probably A level/college given my current experience and expertise.
What do you think?
Academies have been cleared to allow those without teaching qualifications to teach but if you want to work in LA school then you do need teaching qualifications.
The major area you need to think of though is what your subject is. Is there a demand (especially considering Gove's latest thinking) and therefore any jobs not only for your subject but in your area
Why do you want to teach? (it will be an interview question)
Why? I enjoy it, and I am good at it
What subject? That's a tricky one. I am a medic/scientist and I currently lecture in my specialist field. So I guess I would want to teach Biology or if possible a more select and specialised field of biology/medicine (if such a thing exists).
I'm really just starting out in my thinking here - can you tell??
Science teachers in secondary mostly teach all 3 sciences especially if they are biologists as I understand it (am a linguist myself but trained with lot of scientists).
One physicist I know teaches no KS3 at all because of his subject but in general I would suspect pure A level jobs are unusual?
Teaching in FE is something different again but it almost sounds as if you do that now OP?
My dh is a Scientist / academic.
Once, when it looked like his funding wouldn't be renewed, he wondered about teaching (quite enjoys the bits of lecturing he has to do).
He went and shadowed a Science teacher in a local school for a couple of days. Had decided by the first morning I think there is no way in the world he could spend his days teaching secondary. It was the tiny proportion of his working life that would actually be anything to do with explaining scientific things to the pupils tha shocked him, against the balance of behaviour management, paperwork, and all the other less appealling sides of the job. Teaching teens who don't want to be there, is a very different matter from teaching adults who have chosen to study your subject.
I really would suggest you take a couple of days leave and get yourself some work experience / shadowing in a couple of schools and see what you think.
Last I heard, you had to have had some recent experience in schools to even get to interview stage for a PGCE anyway.
I think if you only want to teach sixth form, you will have to be in a sixth form or FE college. I can't imagine any secondary school giving an NQT exclusively A-level lessons in science. Most departments are careful about giving all staff an equal teaching load (wrt to a range of year groups and sets). Your colleagues will want those A-level classes too.
Biology is best-staffed of the science disciplines, so it won't be that easy to find the perfect job.
A very typical set-up is to use teachers in their specialisms from Y9 up, and for everyone to muck in with general science in Years 7 and 8. It's also typical to offer one subject for A-level, two for GCSE and all three in KS3. Even if schools say that they offer separate sciences right from Y7, they won't have any qualms about using any science teacher for KS3 lessons (this is welcome slack on the timetabling.).
Don't write off teaching more than Biology. It is fun to do the other subjects. It is also more interesting in the long-term. It also provides additional perspective to your Biology teaching when you know what they have learnt elsewhere. For example, it is important to know what the pupils learn about big topics, such as energy. The best way to know this is to do some broader teaching.
If you are teaching in HE, you can pretty much decide what to teach. You can't do this in schools, especially state schools. You might find it blessed relief to teach Physics and Chemistry as well, especially if you don't agree with the exam board or government agenda, or if you are told to teach something that is not totally true.
Another big culture shock for many teachers is how weak some of the kids are. You have gone through your own schooling in the top sets (and fairly insulated from poor behaviour), you have enjoyed your lessons, you have gone to a good uni and done well, and have surrounded yourself with top brains in your faculty. This is very tricky to handle, but you do learn to, and you get great fulfillment from moving weaker students on. I am very passionate about the critical relevence of science education for weaker students as it provides essential life skills. This might end up your passion too, so don't rule it out.
In HE you are still restricted to the curriculum that is set by the powers higher up/exam boards etc so its not a free for all
At the risk of outing myself, I have just made a similar move. After 8 years as a tenured academic in a RG university, I decided to career change to secondary level teaching and am doing a pgce. I am also a scientist.
I absolutely do not regret my decision so far, especially as academia is not the utopia it is pictured as being from the outside - personally, I found it soul-destroying.
The biggest jump is going from a lecturing style which you will have developed over the years and automatically slip into when teaching to developing a teaching style. I always say that I know very well how to do the academic stuff, but I am very much still learning how to teach.
If you want to discuss further please feel free to PM me and I'd be happy to share my experiences. FWIW, I also took quite a lot of time off during my last year as an academic to get work experience in school.
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