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To ask who would be a teacher?

56 replies

hatchibombatour · 14/07/2017 07:38

I am a senior manager in healthcare and in my mid 40s. It's something I fell into, I'm not actually qualified to do anything - my degree and MA are in non-vocational subjects. I have been unhappy for a long time and want to get out. I'd like to do something meaningful and 'real'. I've often thought about teaching, it's often been suggested to me, but been put off.

I've read threads on here where teachers warn against joining teaching. I'm not afraid of hard work, I work hard at the moment, and long hours. I know I've got transferable skills. I do volunteer reading at a local primary school and love it, love spending time with the children and seeing how they improve, helping them to improve. I appreciate teaching and volunteer reading are entirely different things, and I don't know if I would want to do primary or secondary (I have an absolute passion for English language and literature).

I've had a recent lightbulb moment, thought JFDI! Would I be completely nuts?

OP posts:

islandsandshores · 14/07/2017 07:40

It's not bad.

Passion can be a double edged sword though.


AngelaTwerkel · 14/07/2017 07:42

God, why not? You're not young and idealistic anymore (sorry!), so you're probably better prepared than many who go into it with only passion to drive them.

DH is a teacher and he loves it. Mind you, we've been living abroad and I think things are different now than when he left the UK a few years ago.


noblegiraffe · 14/07/2017 07:44

If you do plan to become a teacher, include in the plan not being a teacher in 5 year's time. The retention rates in teaching are appalling and getting worse so you do have to factor into your plans that you might be one of the many that it doesn't work out for.


ladyvimes · 14/07/2017 07:45

I love it. You have to have a thick skin, not take things personally and go by the mantra 'good enough is good enough', but it is rewarding and never boring (except marking)!


SmileEachDay · 14/07/2017 07:46

I'm a secondary English teacher - I love my job. It's ridiculously hard work for a salary that "ok", as are many jobs, especially in the public sector.

The beaurocracy is insane. The targets are ridiculous. The constant moving goalposts are just...The marking is stupid massive. The planning takes forever, and a bit longer.


I love it. I love planning and delivering lessons which make my students progress. Which make them laugh and be engaged. I love working with young people, it's all the ace. I love sharing my passion with them.


Bue · 14/07/2017 07:48

DH is a teacher and loves his job, although he works in the independent sector. But I know state school teachers who love their jobs too!


CarrieBlue · 14/07/2017 07:49

I love teaching. Wouldn't choose to do it now. There is a reason for the recruitment crisis, it isn't made up.


Bobbiepin · 14/07/2017 07:50

I've been teaching for five years and I sometimes wonder if I would still pick this career if I knew then what I know now. This might sound cynical but my first thought was 'if you have time to volunteer to help children read, you're not working like a teacher'. I really don't mean that to be offensive but that was my reaction.

Its a really difficult time to be a teacher (I understand it is a difficult time to be working anywhere in the public sector) and 60% of newly qualified teachers quit in the first 5 years. Its a lot of work (most weeks I work about 60 hours, a large percentage is unpaid but more importantly completely unappreciated). However, there are aspects of my job that I adore, like you say, helping a child progress, watching that moment they "get" something is wonderful. I teach A level so I know what I do directly impacts on their futures which is wonderful.

My suggestion would be to get some experience in September and talk openly and honestly with teachers. Try to get into a variety of schools and see what you think. Good luck!


islandsandshores · 14/07/2017 07:51

I am a teacher.

I volunteer.


Pangur2 · 14/07/2017 07:51

I think it works out if you absolutely love the subject you teach. I'm referring to secondary obviously. I teach Art and I love everything to do with my subject. I don't really like all the other aspects of the job to be honest, but getting to do art all day overrides all that.


TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince · 14/07/2017 07:52

I'm afraid my advice is not to do it. I've been teaching 22 years....


Eolian · 14/07/2017 07:56

Well, I'm one of the people who regularly says "God no, don't even think about it!", my favourite quotation being "Going into teaching at the moment would be like seeing people fleeing from a burning building and deciding to run into it".

Like you, the vast majority of teachers love working with children, love their subject, chose the profession because they wanted to do something real and make a difference, and are used to working very very hard for little recognition. But they are still leaving the profession in their thousands.

They are (mosty) not leaving because they are fed up with children or have lost enthusiasm for their subject. They are leaving because the education system is broken. Broken in ways that are hard to explain to someone on the outside (even someone with kids in school, or someone who has volunteered in schools).

And wrt Angela's post, my BIL and SIL are both teachers and have moved to Spain. It's simply a different job there. They are still kind of gobsmacked by all the shit that is simply absent from their jobs compared with in England.

In a way I'm loath to dissuade people - God knows we need more teachers. But put it this way, no teacher wants their child to be a teacher.


TheLuminaries · 14/07/2017 07:56

My DH had a mid life crisis at 40 & dropped out of the corporate world to become a secondary school teacher. He loves it. The money isn't amazing but the holidays make up for it and he has a far far better work/life balance as a teacher than he had in his previous job, where the presenteeism culture was ridiculous. I think people struggle with teaching who go straight into it and have no experience of how hard and how long hours most jobs are. If you already work hard in a long hours job you will find it easy because of the long holidays which are a total bonus, especially if you have a family of your own.


leccybill · 14/07/2017 07:56

The biggest thing at the moment is that there is no money, literally none, so decisions that to you will seen illogical, unfair and frustrating will affect your day to day work.
But I suppose coming from the NHS, you might be used to that.


PumpkinPie2016 · 14/07/2017 08:01

I'm a secondary science teacher and I love it!

Yes it is challenging, exhausting, frustrating but at the same time, the kids are great and no two days are the same!

I have a young child so sometimes things have to be 'good enough' so that I can have enough time with him but I make it work.


Eolian · 14/07/2017 08:02

I think people struggle with teaching who go straight into it and have no experience of how hard and how long hours most jobs are.

Really? I've seen quite a few people retrain to become teachers, before quitting in horror. Some of them on MN. And many career teachers who finally quit and breathe a huge sigh of relief at being in a so-called hard, non-teaching job.

If you already work hard in a long hours job you will find it easy



Marmalady75 · 14/07/2017 08:11

I'm with pp who say they love the actual job of teaching children, but not the crap that goes along with it.
When I first started teaching (about 20 years ago) my planning for the week was an A3 sheet and I noted my evaluation on the back. Now it must be typed and an average day is 3-4 pages of A4. I am not a better teacher because I write more on a plan! When I started the end of year reports were 3 pages long, now they are 7 (well, 9 if you include the page the children complete and the one explaining all the gobbledygook codes and phrases I have to use). Parents are not any better informed. The paperwork is a nonsense - I have to record the same information in a variety of different ways, which wastes time and is pointless. When I point this out to management I'm written off as a moaner.


somewhereovertherain · 14/07/2017 08:18

Primary - no way. Too much red tape and none teaching pressure. If you where left to teach the kids then maybe but look at the private sector or overseas.

Secondary - maybe but have a proper look


sauvignonismydrug · 14/07/2017 08:20

Also love being a teacher! Don't get me wrong, as the years have passed I have become disillusioned with some aspects of the job but it is still the job that I would always choose to do. I've spent 13 years in state schools and jumped ship to the independent sector 3 years ago, as a head of department in both. I have worked long hours in both although the pressures are different. If you have children at home, it does become a juggling act but it is a job that can still work around your children if you are organised. I also am resigned to the fact that I rarely see my children on a Sunday in term time as I spend most of the day planning and marking!
But I really do enjoy working with teenagers and not just in the classroom either. I enjoy the trips and lead several residentials per year, and help out with sport also which can allow you to view your students in a completely different light.
I started teaching after a few years out after my degree. I was unsure but a friend told me that I would always wonder if I made the wrong choice if I didn't go for it.


soimpressed · 14/07/2017 08:32

I'm guessing you will have quite a cut in pay if you become a teacher, Can you manage that? I enjoy my job even though there is a lot of work and stress. I have worked in other sectors apart from teaching and I find the teaching harder work because it is so full on during term time. If you don't have children that won't be a problem but trying to manage the long hours and family is tough. The holidays are good for childcare but they don't make up for all the extra work you do in term time. A lot depends on your head and SLT. I work in primary and you do have to be able to cope with a lot of abuse from parents.


NannyOggsKnickers · 14/07/2017 08:41

I've been a teacher for 10 years and I'm leaving next year. The thing that is pushing me out is workload. How long is a piece of string? That same question could be applied to workload. The expectation from my school is that most of my time outside school is spent doing school work. It is the penultimate week of term (which used to be quiet) and so far I have spent around 30 hours of my own time marking and writing reports. Be prepared to work a 65 hours week as standard. Be prepared for SLT to assume they own your weekends and evenings. The wording on the contract is about reasonable expectations but that seems to have gone out of the window.
Also be prepared for a total lack of praise for extra effort or any of the things you do outside of the classroom. It is all expected. It doesn't matter how much of your own time and money you spend helping the kids- to SLT it is a given. Quite frankly they are doing you a favour giving you the opportunity to get involved.


Foxyloxy1plus1 · 14/07/2017 08:42

What Bobbiepin said.

And expect to be embarking on another career in less than a decade. Most teachers enjoy the teaching and hate everything else about it. I think that part will only get more challenging. If you are in a state school, I don't think that it's family friendly and much of the holidays will be spent working, as well as the evenings and weekends. I never taught in an independent school, but I think the pressures are different.

I think that teaching and teachers are not respected or valued these days.


Wnpa · 14/07/2017 08:49

Secondary here.... first thing I'd say would be to spend some time in schools, not just the odd day here and there, ideally at least a week full time (I understand this is probably difficult if you're working full time but worth it if you're thinking such a major career change). Try and do primary and secondary if you're not sure which stage.
The problem is that teaching is insanely hard for the 2/3 years as you find your feet and start building up your resources from scratch. The longer you do it, the easier it is, I've found - note easier doesn't mean easy 😃 The pay is also shocking for the first few years.
I LOVE the teaching part of my job, the politics and hoop jumping can be almost unbearable at certain times of year, a good school with a supportive SLT make a huge difference in this respect.
If you have school age children, having holidays off is a massive plus- it didn't seem like it in the first few years when the work load is so intense, but now it's such a huge positive for me not having to sort out holiday clubs etc.
Good luck with your decision!


Shadowboy · 14/07/2017 08:52

I've been doing it 10 years and this is the first year I've decided I want out.
But, we are desperate for teachers so why not give it a try?


permanentlyfrazzled1 · 14/07/2017 09:46

I'm an ex English teacher who started in an inner city comprehensive in 1998. I taught for 5 years full time, then a couple of years part time when we relocated to the countryside after starting a family. Hubby is a Maths teacher and still enjoys being with the kids in the classroom, but has seen dramatic and very negative changes since he qualified in 1987. He routinely works 60-70 hours a week (is paid for just over half of those), usually takes Friday night off planning and marking, but is asleep on the sofa by 9.30. We are having our first foreign holiday as a family this summer, thanks to a generous inheritance from late mother-in-law, otherwise we'd be camping in the UK as normal. Nothing wrong with camping, we love it, but just wanting to explain how one teacher's salary doesn't really stretch to treats such as a passport. Morale at the 3 schools he's taught at in the last decade is pretty much permanently low, and staff are under constant scrutiny. Anything less than a 'wonderful' lesson observation can put you only 6 weeks away from losing your job, yet teachers are often observed by non-specialist staff (an MFL teacher observing a Maths lesson, for example) or by people who have never stood in front of a class (many Ofsted bods are lay inspectors): their evaluation of the lesson is taken as read. It is often a case that staff are promoted without interview, so many SLT consist of young, inexperienced teachers who happen to have the time and inclination to caress the ego of the headteacher, so they are the ones who are allowed on training courses, and who are promoted beyond their ability. The teaching unions don't have any power anymore, so when a difficult situation arises, they are often advised to go quietly so as to hopefully prevent them being unable to ever teach again. The ethos of a school can change overnight when the head/SLT changes, so the hours/stress/expectations can also change overnight, and teachers are powerless to even question any aspect of the new regime. A teacher is held accountable for the achievement and progress of every child in every class: if child A is not observed to have made progress during the observation lesson, the level of teaching and learning cannot be deemed to be good. Every child must progress every time you teach them, but this is not how the human brain works. The pressure on teachers is unbelievable, yet the hourly rate of pay would work out to be minimum wage at best, there hasn't been a 'cost of living' payrise for around a decade, and many teachers, like my husband, have had to stop making their pension contributions because that money is more urgently needed to feed and clothe their families. We are home-educating our children so that they do not have to go through such a broken and demoralising system, and I plan never to return, despite missing the buzz of the classroom. Please op, if you can find an alternative career, please do so. You could very well build yourself a load of debt through qualifying as a teacher, to then find you're looking for a new career again five years down the line. Look at the statistics of recruitment and retention: there's a reason for those figures!

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