Does anyone have anything positive to say about secondary teaching?
Seriouslymole · 06/10/2020 13:02
I have been toying with the idea of training for secondary teaching (MFL) on and off for about the last 15 years but have been too comfortable in a relatively well-paid job. The comfort is less currently so might force my hand to make a move in a different direction. I realise the timing is odd given Covid but am just garnering thoughts both IRL and online.
Also, I am 47 so would be old to go into it, if that makes a difference.
Thanks in advance.
Kidneybingo · 06/10/2020 14:26
Currently, no, sorry.
Flagsfiend · 06/10/2020 14:45
Good job security (we'll always need teachers)
Most teenagers are nice
Lots of teenagers are funny
It's interesting and varied day to day
Long holidays ;)
Very long days
Everyone thinks they know how to do your job
Schools vary in supportiveness
Some teenagers are very annoying and can be badly behaved (depending on how the school deals with this it can be a major con or a minor issue)
Not very covid safe as jobs go
Seriouslymole · 06/10/2020 15:22
Thanks @Flagsfiend that's very useful.
Not worried about the covid-safeness so will strike that off the cons list so it's looking more pro than cons.
Do you find that you get time in the day to prepare e.g. free periods etc or not? I'm assuming not from the "very long days".
colourofblue · 06/10/2020 16:28
I’d always recommend it. My only slight reservation for you would be the subject. What languages do you speak?
Seriouslymole · 06/10/2020 16:49
French. Do I need a second language? (Swahili at a push...)
Seriouslymole · 06/10/2020 16:50
Otherwise I would think about doing a refresher for English or History.
@colourofblue - why would you recommend it?
colourofblue · 06/10/2020 17:38
I’ve always enjoyed teaching (until recently but that’s an anomaly.) There ARE drawbacks but let me talk you through the good stuff first
Firstly and most obviously, it pays well, possibly not compared to what you were used to previously, I don’t know, but whenever I idly look at other jobs I realise I am comparatively well paid. Plus good sickness benefits and pension contributions. If you pass away (sorry not very nice) your children will have some money while they are in FT education. I know these things were better in years gone by but they are still worth having.
I’ve been teaching a long time and when I first started it was really hard. Coursework then gave way to Controlled assessments and so much stress and marking and kids behaviour wasn’t the best. I’m not saying it’s all rosy skies now but the 100% exams do at least put the onus very much on the students and they reduce marking and workload.
It’s obviously a relatively short working day (it is an exhausting and intense one though, my partner does get a bit fed up with how tired I get sometimes, I don’t mean with me personally but I just mean to illustrate how other jobs can be different?) and you do get the holidays. I’m pregnant at the moment and at least I know in my family we are sorted for holiday care!
While there are DEFINITELY some exceptions most teachers are really nice, kind people and lovely to work with. I have some lovely friends from schools I’ve worked in and when we meet up we always have so much fun.
Behaviour is a funny one and I can only give you my opinion, bear in mind this is very much just my view! I rarely have problems with behaviour now, although I definitely did as an NQT! That was partly because I was 22 and looked like a stupid teenager but also I’ve learned a LOT about myself, to be honest.
I used to think rigidly adhering to systems was the right thing to do and I used to think if I showed kindness I’d be taken advantage of ... I cringe a bit. I was fighting a losing battle.
Now I think I’ve learned that fundamentally what pins it is respect. I am very respectful towards students and to their families. Personally I do think you catch more flies with honey than vinegar and if someone is a problem I try to think about how I want to change their behaviour not just punish it. You also learn so much about being proactive not reactive - sorry that’s such a wanker phrase but it’s true, you know you have a noisy excitable class so you plan calm, focused activities, you know James in Y9 will be difficult and arsey if he can’t do the work so plan something he CAN do and then You have an opportunity to praise him ... It’s tricks like that. Early in my career I heard the phrase ‘you can make your own weather’ and it’s stayed with me.
Some schools are really, really strict. Personally they aren’t for me - I don’t want to be getting on a kids case over something petty like the wrong colour socks or forgetting a pen once. But by the same token you do need to have a school where there is a firm discipline policy but one that’s ultimately fair and reasonable and gives you autonomy and professional judgement but also supports you. But I know some teachers love working in very strict and rigid environments like Michaela: I’m not saying for a moment I think they are ‘wrong’, just not for me!
Children (even the big ones!) are really lovely. I had a really hard time when I was a teenager and for me it’s been massively healing in many ways, going back and actually trying to help. I laugh loads in schools, kids are so funny (often without meaning to be!) and they can also be very protective of you as their teacher. Something else that stayed with me from early on was someone saying that no one remembered who the Olympic gold medalist from even the last olympics were, even though he or she was top of their field, but everyone remembered a really good, helpful teacher.
Downsides - so yes, people leave for a reason!
Teaching isn’t as secure as people believe it to be. The problem is that HTs have a great deal of power - capability can in theory be started on the back of one poor observation. Bullying in teaching is unfortunately an issue because of this.
As I mentioned above the actual day is exhausting.
It obviously isn’t flexible - obviously you’ll know this - but again this is where I think my partner sometimes wishes I wasn’t a teacher, he’d love to just go to Greece for a week now (Covid aside, I know!) but we can’t.
I can’t put this politely - there is a lot of bullshit and that can get really annoying. The current fad is knowledge organisers. Before that it was formative assessment, then APP (I think) ... there will be others. I try not to visibly roll my eyes!
For you, one downside and a big difference in recent times is when I was at school we all did french with the option to do Spanish or German. Now Spanish seems to be the default language with french as a second one. It could well be worth getting a qualification in Spanish too. Remember just to GCSE so you probably could manage it.
Good luck, I hope this was helpful.
PumpkinPie2016 · 06/10/2020 17:39
I am a secondary teacher and I really enjoy it.
The days are varied and interesting-I am certainly never bored! The vast majority of pupils are great and make me laugh on a regular basis! I get to make a difference to people - whether that's helping them to make sure they get the qualifications they need to move on to the next stage or helping them work out their strengths if they are not academic, encouraging them and supporting them through tough times. I am a 2nd in faculty now so I enjoy supporting the team and helping to drive change forward.
There are long days/weeks. There are times it's really tough. There will be tough classes (my current Y11, I'm looking at you!). For me though,the positives far outweigh the negatives.
A lot depends on the school though. I am fortunate to work in a really supportive school with a great head.
Seriouslymole · 06/10/2020 17:45
Thank you both SO much for taking the time to respond. Particularly @colourofblue with such detail, it really is helpful to hear some positivity.
I realise that things are not as they were with Covid, but potentially by the time I get round to getting somewhere with this, things might be back to some sort of normality - who knows?
Totally hear what you say about Spanish. I will investigate further.
stdmumihope · 06/10/2020 18:19
Just one thing to add - you are not too old. I am a 51 year old NQT. Going back to uni made me feel young again. I loved it. Good luck.
Seriouslymole · 06/10/2020 18:22
That’s good to know - thank you!
Hercwasonaroll · 06/10/2020 18:23
I bloody love it. Hard work and I love it never have enough hours in the day. But the kids are wonderful and keep you young. (been teaching 10+ years).
PenOrPencil · 06/10/2020 19:16
You need 2 languages for MFL, usually French and Spanish or German. Any other languages like Italian or Mandarin would be considered niche subjects.
English and history both have crazy marking loads.
I teach MFL and I am utterly exhausted at the moment, everybody is only just keeping it together at the moment and I don’t know how much longer I can muster the energy to keep going.
suk44 · 06/10/2020 22:34
Recent survey in TES: 'Exclusive: One in seven teachers ‘on the brink’
Less than a month into the new term, nearly half of teachers are “drained and exhausted” while a third are “just about coping” and 15 per cent are “physically and mentally on the brink”, a Tes survey reveals.
The survey, carried out this week among teaching staff across the UK, found that just 10 per cent were “completely fine” while only 1 per cent said “I feel great”.
One schools leader told Tes: “We’re in a climate where everyone is on edge and stressed out and worried the whole time. If I’m still in this job by Christmas, I’m going to be amazed. I’ve had enough.”
Enoughnowstop · 06/10/2020 22:53
For the vast majority of schools, you will need two languages but having said that, the local MAT where I am (more schools now in than out), is pretty much French only. Google SKE course as these are free if you have a PGCE place and used to come with a small bursary. I think they are frequently done online now, however.
Where are you? You you might be able to use the shortage to your advantage. Have you been in school? It will ,probably prove impossible at the moment but it is worthwhile in terms of understanding what is expected of you. It is a tough job. I started at 40, dropped to supply at 44 and then went part time in an independent school. Age has never been a barrier for me.
ValancyRedfern · 07/10/2020 06:54
Yes! I love it. I get to spend every day teaching a subject I love and inspiring that love in the next generation. It is exhausting and stressful, but as a total stress head I've been exhausted and stressed my whole life so it doesn't make much difference. Working in a school with an excellent behaviour management system and a supportive slt is so important though, and there's a lot of schools with neither.
ValancyRedfern · 07/10/2020 06:59
Re. Two languages at my school most teachers specialise in one or the other (French or Spanish) so it isn't always beccessary to have two.
StaffAssociationRepresentative · 07/10/2020 07:50
Need two languages - one to deliver to GCSE and A Level and another to help with timetabling at KS3. Lower sets year 9 can be grim.
Secondary better than primary imho
Seriouslymole · 07/10/2020 07:59
That's a shame about needing two languages. I might have to rethink.
Thanks to everyone for responding. So nice to hear some lovely positive things and my sympathies to those who are struggling. It seems to be the same IRL too - some are struggling hugely and some find it hard work but generally great fun.
DipSwimSwoosh · 07/10/2020 16:54
You will need another language. Spanish or German probably.
It's wonderful to teach your language to A Level. The course is interesting and so is being with teenagers.
It's getting easier having everything online.
It's a sociable job. You will never be bored. You will be valued in that, if you are ever off, you are made to feel invaluable!
The holidays are good.
MrsHamlet · 07/10/2020 18:17
It's the best job in the world. It's also the worst. 20 years teaching English here :)
It's bloody relentless - imagine riding a unicycle uphill. Now juggle some flaming brands, and spin some plates. And explain it at the same time. It's not easy and the pay is terrible to start with. But you change lives every day.
Piggywaspushed · 07/10/2020 22:13
The majority of the MFL teachers in my school teach one language.
Piggywaspushed · 07/10/2020 22:18
I am not sure I agree there is less marking by the way. I mark waaaaaaay more than I used to. There is such an emphasis on assessments and a lot more pressure to be on your game all the time and accelerating progress. It's a bit of a treadmill these days and very very intense compared to 20 years ago.
If it matters, MFL attracts large bursary. English and history do not.
I do think the covid thing is relevant. It shows how important education is in keeping an economy going. But it also highlight how we are viewed as a service industry and not really treated with any kindness or duty of care by the government. That is rather upsetting an has rocked my confidence a lot over the last few months. People can be very hurtful in their comments about the profession.
Behaviour has got worse definitely. Is till enjoy using my brain every day, though.
Mistressiggi · 07/10/2020 23:52
I don't think your age is a barrier because I think everyone has about ten good years before it all starts to get too much. So you'd be heading for retirement before you burn out I do find it a bit when you pat us on the head for saying positive things. We can lie if you like?
Seriouslymole · 08/10/2020 06:34
@Mistressiggi - sorry, it wasn’t intending to be patronising. It is nice to hear positive things from people, in every walk in life.
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