Anyone got anything positive to say about secondary teaching?(45 Posts)
I'm old to be looking at this game (44 currently) but cannot see me sticking in my current job until retirement. I have toyed on and off for ages with the idea of teaching French/English in secondary schools. However, I have a lot of friends who are teachers but mainly primary. They are all, without exception, fed up with the way things are. I'm also married to a teacher, who has left the profession - he is still teaching but peripatetic music - again primary.
Can anyone give me any guidance on secondary teaching and whether it really would be a nightmare or whether it might be OK? I would be 47 or 48 when going through training - is this too old?
Not too old but your pgce & not years are intense. Really intense. Gets easier after that.
I couldn't do primary as I find the kids lovely but a bit too needy. Teens are great, as a general rule.
No, honestly, 95% are nice kids who are having a crappy few years with hormones and just need handling with sensitivity and a bit of humour. They're infuriating and brilliant in equal quantity and I love classroom teaching.
The paperwork and admin however....ugh. That's the crappy bit.
Don't do it (unless you plan to only work in private schools). I've been an MFL teacher for 20 years but these days am a lowly cover supervisor with a bit of adult teaching on the side because the idea of going back into proper secondary teaching brings me out in a cold sweat. Dh is a deputy head and if he doesn't get out soon, he will be lucky to escape with his sanity. Teaching was the only job I ever wanted to do since I was twelve, but the current education system is a train wreck. Or as someone else recently put it, "Going into teaching right now would be like watching people fleeing from a burning building, then deciding to run in".
Oh and check out some of the other similar threads on MN. People say "Should I become a teacher?" and 99% of the replies are from teachers saying "Christ no! Are you insane??!!"
Teaching the class? Fine, enjoyable, rewarding.
Everything else? Soul destroying.
Unfortunately, it's 30% teaching and 70% everything else.
I started my PGCE today I'm early 50s and am already work in the public sector where moral/staff retention/work load is dangerous. Before applying I spoke to lots of teachers at all levels and found many who clearly loved the job. I honestly dont think teachers work harder than many in the public sector; doctors, social workers nurses and lets not forget those in the private sector my DH works nearly 60 hours a week he gets 4 weeks holiday a year. You'll find plenty in other jobs who are utterly demoralised and would say "don't do it" it's the working culture in this country that's a big part of the problem and government funding or not in the public sector.
I left secondary a few years ago to teach in a college instead. Much more my style and despite there still being mountains of pointless admin much less than secondary. Could be worth looking into. Lots of colleges offer CET or DET courses alongside sessional teaching so you are paid as well when training.
I work in a school that cares about staff workload. It's still hard-going at times but I love it. I really can't think of anything else I'd rather do. The kids I teach are just fab and I love that every day is different.
Anewcareerforme - don't you think day 1 of your PGCE is just a smidgeon early to be making that judgement? Teachers aren't quitting the profession in their thousands for no reason. Though I look forward to being proved wrong when I hear that they are all flocking back to teaching when they find out that other jobs are just as bad...
Anewcareer that's encouraging that you're starting early 50s. I would love to hear how you're getting on in a couple of years!
I agree that other sectors do work hard but this is really why I'm asking the question, I know so many teachers and the pressures are horrendous, DH included, but these are all primary, hence why I wondered if secondary was any different.
Outback that's a very valid point, and would probably suit me much better. Still the same route? PGCE?
A lot of my teachers really loved and took pride in their work (I went to a rather small, tight knit girls school). Many former students also have one of two teachers that they regularly see on a social basis. The truck seems to be finding a school where you got in with the other staff and the students are all well behaved.
The pressures I think are different.
In primary it's marking 30 x books a day.
In secondary if you're core subject then it's fewer books than non core but more often.
The work is maybe more intellectually taxing as you're teaching gcse or a level so your subject knowledge needs to be up to scratch, but for primary you need to be good at lots of subjects, which is a real skill.
Primary behaviour issues are different. Secondary is tougher on the resolve maybe, especially when dealing with recalcitrant year 9 on a Friday afternoon.
Primary, you have 30 little peeps to really get to know and develop, which is great. Secondary, you get loads so relationships aren't so developed with the children....but that can be a blessing sometimes; if you've got an awful class it's only for 2-5hrs a week.
Fewer colleagues, closer working in primary. Lots of colleagues, but small department relationships at secondary.
Swings and roundabouts
I have no desire to teach primary at all. I have utmost respect for primary teachers but I couldn't do it. Way too intense.
I totally agree! Whilst primary kids arelobely I definitely couldn't teach them all day, I'd go crazy.
Be aware that if you teach English, many of your students will be resentful of having to do your subject, as it is not optional. All of your classes will be maximum size, and you are likely to have students from every year group, so a lot of different lessons to plan, along with all the marking.
If you go down the college route, you will at least have students who have chosen your subject.
I teach an hour of primary MFL a week in my village school. It's delightful. But I couldn't teach primary all day every day!
It's quite difficult to explain to a non-teacher what is so bad about the job these days. Poor behaviour used to be the thing that teachers found the hardest about their job. It's very noticeable that behaviour is no longer the top of the list though.
Elolian im not making that judgement on day 1 of my career. Before applying I spoke to lots of teachers about their work load, I also observed teachers and their working practices, talked to friends and friends of friends who are teachers, I listened very carefully about what they thought about teaching as a career the hours they worked etc. The point Im made above therefore is based on this not what I did today.
I'm not saying teachers have a cushy number they work very hard in very difficult situations but so do many others. The job I've just left has a desperate desperate staffing crisis, interestingly when I've told teachers about the ridiculous hours I have to work, the first thing most say is "that's illegal", a friend is a registrar in our local hospital it's terrible there are no registrars in her speciality she works mad hours in often extremely stressful situations. I was talking to an ambulance driver at a party a few weeks ago he was involved in the Grenfell Tower fire, he also works crazy hours. Many other professions are experiencing indentical problems to teachers.
If there was a section on here titled "doctors surgery" or "nurses ward" or "social workers office" many of those would come on here to answer a similiar question posed by the OP and say the same thing; "don't do it, you're underpaid totally over worked and it's an endless slog" but others would also say "do it".
This shouldn't be about teachers work so much harder than doctors or social workers or nurses etc . Many many in all areas of the public sector are collapsing under pressure many work so hard, and under the constant strain of insufficient funding, ever increasing demands and expectations from government and our employers also those we work with be it, children, parents, patients, relatives or clients.
It's just not good.
I've been out of secondary teaching for a few years.
The good news is the amazing, thinking, interesting young people you meet.
The bad news is everything else.
I am an English teacher and I teach a bit of everything in a PRU. I love it. Behaviourally they are very challenging and you need the skin of a rhino but everything else is ok
I suspect you need to look at the sort of person you are? And what are you looking for in teaching?
I'm coming from a very high pressured environment, I love to work hard, I enjoy a challenge and stressful situations I've spent the last 30 years choosing these type environments. When I decided it was time to have a career change I wasn't looking for a nice easy number. I wasn't thinking this is the problem to my child care problems, or I fancy finishing work at 3 30 every day. If Id wanted an easier life (and more money) I could have easily stayed in my current profession just changed jobs but thats not me.
Others in my professions I know hate it, this doesn't mean I'm better than them or worse at the job we're all different and we'll be happiest in our jobs if we choose somewhere that matches our personality and what we want from work. When I was looking at teacher training I talked to an ex policeman who'd worked in areas where gun/gang crime was rife, he like me loved to be in a challenging environment he just wanted a change, he was loving teaching. Another trainee hated it, she was struggling with lots of different areas, she missed her old job and I very doubt she finished the training. I take the view I've always wanted to do it, give a go what have I got to loose?
I agree with anew that a lot of the problems in teaching at the minute are reflective of wider problems in working culture in this country. Working hours are becoming longer and employer demands more unreasonable across a whole range of sectors. I remember visiting Japan about a decade ago and being jet lagged and up stupidly early in the mornings. I remember being baffled by the workers arriving in the office block opposite our hotel at the crack of dawn. The extreme culture of presenteeism seemed really alien but we seem to be moving increasingly in that direction. People are expected to be ever more devoted to work at the expense of their personal lives. I think as a country we should look to get back to the idea of eight hours work, eight hours leisure, eight hours rest as the norm. I accept that 8 hours isn't always practical in teaching and that the holidays make up for longer hours but in some schools teachers seem to be so overwhelmed with work that 70+ hour weeks on a regular basis are becoming the norm. That is mad and neither sustainable nor necessary. Our school gets perfectly good results without requiring teachers to work themselves into the ground, in fact I think part of the reason our results are so good is because the school looks after the wellbeing of staff. If you pile lots of unnecessary work on staff they aren't likely to be at the top of their game for very long.
I love it. I really love secondary teaching and working with teenagers. Things that are tiring:
Big classes and poor behaviour from the few rather than the many.
I have worked in the past as the induction tutor for NQTs, and have supported a number of 'older' (training in their 40s or even early 50s) teachers who, once through the NQT year, have become wonderful practitioners in many cases.
I have worked in state and private, and would recommend private if behaviour worries you. Work load will be the same though.
A bit like what someone said above - Teaching the students - awesome and great fun.
The other expectations, the paperwork, marking, preparing, data, meetings, analysis, intervention, CPD, detentions, duties, logistics, seating plans, making resources, displays, evenings with expectations of attendance, forms, more paperwork - soul destroying.
This shouldn't be about teachers work so much harder than doctors or social workers or nurses etc
It isn't. I've never heard a teacher say that. They (rightly) complain about many aspects of their job and the education system. And many of them leave. They don't compare their jobs to nurses or doctors. Because they haven't been nurses or doctors, so how can they possibly compare? And I'm sorry, but neither can you until you've actually done the job. Talking to lots of teachers and observing isn't the same as being a teacher.
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