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considering future career in teaching

(20 Posts)
chocolatesun Thu 03-May-18 10:59:16

Re-posting from AIBU to the staff room forum.

have wanted to be a secondary school English teacher for many years. However I was put off for various reasons and pursued a much more lucrative professional career. I’m now 38 and settled in my job. I still dream about teaching English literature to teenagers. I think I’d like to change careers in the next 5-10 years, not because I don’t like my job but because I don’t want to look back and regret not doing it. Whenever I mention this pipe dream to others I’m immediately met with a barrage of negativity.

Mumsnet teachers, am I mad? Is teaching as bad as people say? Why are so many teachers unhappy (or are the unhappy ones just a vocal minority)? I would be taking a massive pay cut to do it but money isn’t everything in life!

OP’s posts: |
BringOnTheScience Thu 03-May-18 15:18:26

Why do you want to teach? What attracts you to it?

Then we can give an indication of how realistic your dream might be.

MeanTangerine Thu 03-May-18 15:20:44

How much time have you spent in schools in the last few years?

chocolatesun Thu 03-May-18 15:31:23

I’d love to teach English and in all honesty haven’t spent much time in secondary schools recently. I like the idea of spending time in the classroom (work in a corporate environment now), talking about ideas and the subject, talking to students and being a positive influence. I realise some students can be horrible but that doesn’t put me off. I also realise there is a lot of admin and marking but I don’t mind that either. The stress of exams does worry me, though. I suppose my question is whether the positives outweigh the negatives. I don’t think I’ve heard from a happy teacher yet!

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Thu 03-May-18 15:47:43

I still dream about teaching English literature to teenagers.

What exactly are you picturing here? Because you’ll be teaching English language a lot of the time and teaching lit won’t all be ‘Captain, my Captain’ but also a lot of ‘when am I ever going to need Shakespeare in real life?’. Get into schools and observe some English lessons to see if the dream matches the reality.

MsJaneAusten Thu 03-May-18 16:19:45

I posted on your other thread.

I love teaching English to teenagers. I have never been in a classroom thinking 'I hate this'. You get so much from it, and no lesson/day is ever the same.

However, I loathe the pressure that we're all under at the moment. I really struggle to reconcile my idea of 'working with teenagers, making a difference, etc (which seem similar to yours) with seeing the impact the current education system has on the mental and emotional welfare of young people. A lot of the time at the moment, I worry that as a teacher in a core subject I'm doing more harm than good sad

Get into some schools, talk to as many teachers as you can, then decide.

Piggywaspushed Thu 03-May-18 17:47:51

I am an English teacher. I think it is telling that you say you want to teach literature. That does dominate at secondary level but is not all we do. And, to be honest, my love of literature has been severely damaged by the schemes of work that insist we teach the entirety of, say , Macbeth in 5 1/2 weeks so we can do a soul destroying assessment. And, these days, it is rare to have much choice over which text you teach to whom, I'd add, even at A Level. Uptake of Engl lit at A level ahs dropped : largely, I am sure, down to the enforced route march through Gove's canon at GCSE. Good luck with the inspiring bit...

Sorry. sad

MiniAlphaBravo Thu 03-May-18 17:58:37

English teaching in particular has a huge marking load. This could be 4 hours a night and more at weekends! I don’t teach English but in all the schools I have worked in they seem to be the most stressed! I know you say you don’t mind marking but it imreakky is time consuming and can be extremely boring as well!! Especially in English. Teaching itself is usually great, but I also agree with pp about the obsession with assessment becoming a bit much in the profession at present.

MsJaneAusten Thu 03-May-18 18:01:32

Marking can be wonderful when you're reading top set / A-Level literature essays, but when you're onto your 59th Year 9 description of 'an inspiring place', it gets a little boring...wine

greensea Thu 03-May-18 18:04:51

I'm a secondary teacher, though Art not English and have similar ideals of being a positive influence, and get enjoyment from encouraging creativity. I, however, also don't want to stay in this career too long. As much as I love teaching, it is pretty hard going. There's a heap of pressure, and not enough resources to feel like I'm doing the best you're capable of. I'm down to 50 mins a week with junior classes which is pretty soul destroying.

Have you thought about teaching at a Higher Education level? I'm sure there's still a great deal of bureaucracy but at least young people have more personalisation (and I'd hope; passion) in the subject.

MiniAlphaBravo Thu 03-May-18 18:05:36

Yes sorry I shouldn’t have implied in my last post that English marking was exceptionally boring compared to ther subjects blush Not true I’m sure. But it probably is more time consuming.

ICantCopeAnymore Thu 03-May-18 18:06:23

Yes you are mad.

Chosenone Thu 03-May-18 18:07:53

Not an English specialist but do teach a little bit of Year 7. Our English dept are amazing but what you need to realise is how prescriptive it is.

You are literally teaching to the test. You may have to teach a poem and break it down so much that the kids get bored and then do it again and again, scaffolding and structuring their writing every step of the way. Top sets seem to be thriving with the new specs and middle to bottom are fed up and bored. The marking is intense, and my colleagues are mainly part time to cope with that. 2 English staff are leaving our relatively easy school due to workload. You need to get in and observe, top set, bottom set etc.
I enjoy teaching (Arts subject) but you need a thick skin and the ability to multi task.

MsJaneAusten Thu 03-May-18 18:08:18

Ha. @MiniAlphaBravo, don't worry, I don't think you've offended anyone. You're absolutely right. It can be completely tedious!

MeanTangerine Thu 03-May-18 18:22:34

How many hours a week do you like to work?

While you would get to teach literature, you will also spend a lot of time on full stops, capital letters, and there, they're and their.

I think your best bet would be to locate a tame teacher who would be happy to have you shadow them (you'll probably need to pay for a DBS) for a couple of days at least. Aim to follow them from the moment they arrive in the morning to the moment they leave at night (not many teachers would be up for this; try to find one who owes you a favour grin) In a perfect world, you'd spend time in a few different schools, because they vary enormously. Signing up as a supply TA is quite a good way to do this, but obviously it's time consuming / minimum wage. When I trained it was competitive and no one in my course had less than a year's full time school experience - now that trainee numbers are down this requirement may have relaxed.

Teaching secondary English destroyed my mental health, and it took me years to rebuild. Most of the teachers I knew are now out of the profession, or have moved into less intense roles (TAs, adult Ed, tutoring, charity work, consultancy, etc etc) So I may not be the best person to advise.

That said, I do have some ex colleagues still at the chalk face, who are still passionately dedicated to their students. You might turn out to be one of these, so I won't tell you not to try.

MistyMeena Thu 03-May-18 18:23:58

I think you probably have an idea in your head of how it will be, if you're dreaming of teaching lit to teenagers. If you haven't already, I would spend time in your local comp and see if it matches your ideal first.

In our local schools, the kids study Macbeth (or chosen play) for 3 years just so they are ready for the exam. The curriculum does nothing to inspire a love of Shakespeare, or any other writer for that matter. It's teaching to the test all the way! Round here it is, anyway.

Piggywaspushed Thu 03-May-18 18:27:06

3 years!!! We get 3 weeks! (not exaggerating all that much...) sot hat we can then spend about 3 months practising answering language exam questions and spend approx. two terms 'revising' in year 11.

A happy medium would be good...

chocolatesun Thu 03-May-18 19:12:41

Thank you all for the comments and advice. Shadowing a teacher is a good idea and I already know who to pester for a favour. ☺️Thanks again

OP’s posts: |
MistyMeena Fri 04-May-18 11:30:53

Yep, local schools start the English lit syllabus beginning of yr 9 for exams end of yr 11. Kids are heartily sick of the texts by the time that comes around.

Cynderella Fri 04-May-18 16:25:28

Secondary English here - it's not spending time with teenagers that is the issue for most of us. That's the best bit.

It's the other adults that cause the problems. And the fewer hours they teach themselves, the more fuckery they generate for the rest of us.

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