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Has anybody retrained as a teacher from wildly different career?!

(52 Posts)
crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 10:28:21

Has anyone retrained as a teacher from a completely different career path?!

bookishtartlet Fri 01-Nov-19 16:38:57

I'm secondary English, have been teaching 9 years.

The school makes the difference. I'm certainly not marking and planning every night any more. I do lots of peer and self assessment, as well as assessment is for learning activities and chat to pupils regularly during class work to see if they are struggling. I only mark maybe 3 or 4 long pieces a term per class.

Certain points of the year are busier than others. I can request time to see my son's nursery play etc.

If you have a sense of humour, decent organisation and can be flexible then the job is great. The first two years were really intense, but it's paid off for me.

butterflywings37 Fri 01-Nov-19 13:34:28

I am a teacher - I leave home at 6:45am ( to get into work for 7:20am. Work through lunch and breaks.I leave work about 4:30 to get home for about 5:15 ( traffic reasons). I then do about 3-4 hours per evening at home. I won't work on a Friday night but I do work about 7-10 hours on a weekend day ( I make sure I have one day with no work).
This is how I have always worked both in mainstream primary and now in a sen school and I am an experienced teacher.

The work/life balance in term time is poor. Holidays do make it bearable but I work every holiday - never have a full holiday 'off'. This half term I have already worked for about 20 hours and need to do another day to get my planning etc ready for Monday.

However I love teaching - I love being in the classroom but don't love the politics, budget cuts (meaning low support and resources) or the workload/hours.

Biscuitsneeded Fri 01-Nov-19 13:04:44

Secondary teacher here, became a teacher aged 38 and with small kids after a totally different career.
Pros: you get the same school holidays so you get to see and enjoy your own kids with no need for holiday childcare. As your children grow up you understand the system they are being processed through.
Cons: Work/life balance is pretty tricky in termtime. You can't always get to school events for your own children as you can't have time off. You will lose a portion of every weekend and most evenings to marking/planning, and this is if you're organised. It feels relentless. You come home exhausted by having kept your patience with other people's children all day and you have none left for your own kids.
Neutral: salary. Nobody ever went into teaching for the money. It's not as much as it should be given the hours you have to put in, but it's OK. I suspect I say this as someone who has a partner who earns a bit more and who is not especially materialistic, was able to get on the housing ladder before the career switch etc. Others think the pay is awful.

fedup21 Fri 01-Nov-19 13:02:22

No worries at all-the profession needs more people going into it so I don’t want to discourage anyone.

Do a search for PGCE/retraining on the staffroom board as there have been some interesting and insightful posts recently.

crispycrisis Fri 01-Nov-19 12:57:50

@fedup21 thank you, I'm here to get guidance and feedback and I really do appreciate your response.

One of the reasons I came here first (my teacher friends have no idea I'm interested) is because I wanted varies feedback. Thank you

fedup21 Fri 01-Nov-19 12:53:28

Thank you for answering the questions-it gives some perspective.

It sounds like you currently work long hours but are well remunerated for it.

You’d probably be working 55/60 hour weeks in term time for £23k in teaching. So slightly fewer hours, but 1/4 or less pay.

I would love to say I had passion and enthusiasm for teaching, but I can’t anymore because by the time I am micromanaged into duplicating endless pieces of data in different formats and sorted CPD, observations, assessment and marking-I simply don’t have it in me. Hence why I’m planning on leaving this year.

Sadly, all of the career changers I know who have left well paid jobs to try teaching, have lasted about 2 years max before either taking early retirement (with already financially sound husbands) or have returned to their previous job. Most resent the micromanagement of every aspect of the role which they were unused to-having been in roles previously allowing flexibility and trust from their employer.

As long as you have properly researched it and know what to expect though, you are going in with your eyes fully open.

crispycrisis Fri 01-Nov-19 12:37:36

To answer a few questions-

I earn a varied wage from 75k-120k

I work across time zones and travel a lot. An average month will see me working a few nights to take calls (and then essentially straight through the next day too). I could also do 4/5 overnight stays in a 6 week period.

The pressure from management is intense and I have a formal performance review quarterly.

I'm never unavailable. A client could in theory need to reach me at any stage.

As a graduate I was very interested in teaching. I attended borough recruiting drives and spent time in schools for brief work experience. I was then lured by a very well paid grad scheme in IT and here I am. I work in a role I have zero passion or enthusiasm for and I'd like to seriously consider teaching.

PurpleDaisies Fri 01-Nov-19 09:44:26

I know lots of teachers and the secondary school teachers tend to work much longer hours

Primary teacher (who has also been a secondary teacher) married to a secondary teacher. I had a totally different, very difficult career before.
Primary workload is more. There’s a perception that it isn’t, but it is. Marking is insane.

You don’t mention any work experience in schools. What’s making you think of teaching apart from the work life balance (!)?

peanutbear Fri 01-Nov-19 09:43:07

I was an area manager for a large brewery and I retrained as a teacher.

I teach purely SEN and behaviour so smaller classes less paperwork as in marking, more EHC and intervention paperwork.

I love my job but the salary does not compare! I have been able to have school holidays with my children as they were growing up though and this was valuable to me.

Kazzyhoward Fri 01-Nov-19 09:31:16

Not personally, but I have an ex-work colleague who was a chartered accountant and retrained as a secondary teacher - she says she's not regretted a thing - she was completely drained and fed up of the corporate world.

IJustWantToWearDungarees Thu 31-Oct-19 23:33:49

I did this. Retrained as a secondary English teacher. It broke me. I have worked in many diverse careers and nothing comes close to the stress and workload of teaching.

I think it is very easy to do a comparison between a teacher's hours and those of, say, a banker, and decide that teachers have an easier workload. But what people don't factor in is that many, many teachers work during the majority of their "holidays" and work long hours at home during term time.

Also, you have to compare the intensity of the work. An office job will have periods of varying intensity during the day. In teaching, you are in full-on "presenting" mode all day, every day. It is exhausting.

I'd really advise reading extensively rather than just talking to a select group of family/friends. There is a reason the profession is in crisis and teachers are leaving in their droves. I don't know any secondary English teachers who aren't desperate to escape and find another job, but can't find anything to suit their qualifications and experience.

SleeplessWB Thu 31-Oct-19 22:42:19

As a secondary teacher I disagree that the work-life balance is poor. I work long days (leave house at 7:30am and have a rule to always be home by 6pm), I also always do some work at weekends and in the holidays however there is surely no comparison to only having 20 days annual leave or waiting for international conference calls at 9pm as my sister was this evening? I spend every school holiday with my children and that easily makes up for limited time with them in the week.

capsule Thu 31-Oct-19 22:25:50

My friend and SIL both are primary teachers. They leave at 8 and are home 5 latest. They do not work Friday afternoons or weekends.

Your friend and SIL are very lucky! These hours bear no relation to the hours that most primary teachers work.

TitchyP Thu 31-Oct-19 22:25:25

OP, I apologise. My comment was childish. 21 years working with children can occasionally make a person behave childishly.

A good work-life balance depends heavily on the school you find yourself employed in. If you have young children please bear in mind it's unlikely you will ever see them in a class assembly, nativity play or sports day unless you work at the school they attend.

Please ask this question in the staffroom section of the board where you will gather many honest opinions from a range of teachers.

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 22:23:06

Why is my current salary relevant?

What a shame you didn’t answer either question.

Having a poor work life balance is often recompensed by a large payoff which is why I was interested to know your current situation.

Not being sarcastic though, I was just interested to know your thought process; I hope you enjoy the career move.

helloisitmeyourelookingfor Thu 31-Oct-19 22:21:09

I used to be a sales manager in a previous life, I now teach SEN but have worked in a mainstream primary and have friends that are secondary teachers

Work/life balance (in my experience) gets better the longer you teach -planning in your first couple of years can be incredibly time consuming as you have no back catalogue so to speak, everything is done from scratch and can take an age

Marking depends on your school's marking policy but in primary can be 90 books a night, 4/5 nights a week -it's not a quick job

If salary is a major concern then look at secondary -anecdotally there are more TLRs available in secondary than primary

Having experienced the extended working week in sales, the lack of holidays one year I got 4 days off in the school holidays in total and the inability to attend school events due to staffing constraints and commission period deadlines, I find I have a much better balance in my life.

More importantly I'm doing something I'm passionate about

Could I earn more in sales? Absolutely -but life isn't all about money

Scarydinosaurs Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:47

Secondary English has a crazy marking workload. Primary workload varies hugely between schools. You basically need a good headteacher who understands that ‘well-being’ is not donuts in the staff room.

www.tes.com/institute/blog/what%E2%80%99s-difference-between-primary-and-secondary-teaching

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:35

Thanks so much for your insight @Pieceofpurplesky

suze28 Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:32

I was a clinical research associate prior to having my children. I then did the primary PGCE when they were 8 and 10. The hours needed for that and to manage the first few years of teaching were huge. It's the sort of job where there aren't enough hours in the day.
I love my job and don't regret my career change however it's tiring, relentless and incredibly challenging.
Volunteer in a range of schools before deciding and listen to the reality of what the teachers are telling you.

moobar Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:17

Previously I left home 6am, returned 8pm earliest. Monday to Thursday. 6pm home Friday. Was called out two nights minimum a week in the night. Worked at home Saturday and Sunday mornings and usually about half hour to and hour when home week might evenings.

Two weeks holiday a year maximum and split. On those spent 4 to 5 each day emails and on phone to office just to contain it.

For me it's about DD. My friend and SIL both are primary teachers. They leave at 8 and are home 5 latest. They do not work Friday afternoons or weekends. They do not work holidays. Yes they work hard and it's a demanding and hard job but it's a better family balance to what I am used to.

Pieceofpurplesky Thu 31-Oct-19 22:02:57

I gave up a job in IT 20 years ago to train as an English teacher. The marking is horrendous - probably on a par with primary marking.

Of the five trainees we have had in our department in the last 5 years only 2 are still teaching - and one of those leaves at Christmas. They all came in to teaching after a career elsewhere. They earn more money for less stress in their old jobs and as a result have gone back to them. Two of them only completed their NQT year and then quit.

For the first time on 20 years I would happily quit. I love the teaching and the pastoral side, but all that matters these days is results - questions like 'why has this severely dyslexic child done better in maths' ... kids are made to feel a failure for not being able to reach ridiculous targets. I have a year 11 form and the pupils are worked to breaking point as teachers are scared to fail.

I used to love every second and now I dread every day.

Spend some time in a variety of schools to see the 'real' picture

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 21:59:30

@fedup21 they work less hours than I do currently. I've been known to miss annual leave for the huge bulk of the year and I travel extensively for work. So their hours and work life balance is better than mine.
Why is my current salary relevant? I expect to be on much less than what I am on now but can handle this change and am prepared to do this for a more rewarding role.

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:49:36

Can I ask what sort of hours the teachers you know work?

You say that teachers have a much better work life balance to you-can I also ask what sort of salary you’re on?

fleariddenmoggie Thu 31-Oct-19 21:43:28

If you end up in the wrong type of school then there is absolutely no work/life balance in primary school and it certainly doesn't fit around family life!

^This. I have worked in the City. Many years in primary, now in secondary. I think the work/life balance is better in Secondary, but it may depend on the subject and things like the school marking policy.

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:40:08

I wasn’t being sarcastic-I was just very surprised by what you’d said about primary teaching.

Please do post on the staff room board if you haven’t already.

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