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Any software engineer career changers?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by MadHatter76, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. MadHatter76

    MadHatter76 New commenter

    Don't know if many of you read the interested in teaching forum so thought I'd ask here and create some activity :)

    Did any of you used to be in the software development business and change to teaching? I've been in it for 15+ years and a bit disillusioned at the moment, giving serious consideration to training to teach computer science as teaching is something I feel strongly about and I believe I have a lot to offer. Just wondered if anyone had thoughts on this kind of switch. It feels a good option at my time of life (apart from the big salary cut!) and if it doesn't work I still have my current profession to fall back to.
  2. db12a

    db12a New commenter

    I switched to teaching from development after a similar amount of time in dev (slightly longer). Some of my reasons for switching do get fulfilled in secondary ed and some don't.

    I would say that if you are switching because you want to teach mainly really keen kids how to program then you are fairly likely to be disappointed in secondary ed unless you do A level or are in an exceptional school. The majority of kids in my experience do not passionately want to code and have ended up in the GCSE because it's not geography, history etc.

    That being said you do meet some kids who are really keen and are / will be phenomenal programmers but they are the minority.

    Coming out of industry the behaviour management side and the bureaucracy in schools is pretty shocking - as a re-trainer into teaching it's difficult to deal with a lot of the pastoral discipline issues (uniform etc) with the same kind of passion that some teachers seem to derive from checking that shirts are tucked in etc...

    Upsides for me are - you do get to help some kids who are really keen on the subject, you also get to help some kids who find things difficult but really want to try and finding ways to help them is very rewarding. Covering a wide range of topics is also mostly interesting and trying to shape a good and compelling SOW is also fascinating and (hopefully) should pay off with the students becoming more engaged in the longer term.

    To be honest no one has ever been as rude to me in 20 odd years of development as they have been in relatively few years of teaching and that side of it can be shocking. On the other plus side though it isn't boring (so far) and every day is a new challenge!
  3. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    I'd agree with all of the the above.But I would also have to say that you have chosen exactly the wrong time to move into teaching.. There is so much change and churn occurring that it is almost impossible to state whether ICT/computing will even exist as mainstream subjects in a couple years time.

    If it were me I'd leave you application for a couple of years. Get your Disclosure and Barring Service ( DBS ) check and try to find a local school which will let you sit in on some lessons/run a club whatever So you can see what a school looks like these days.That will also give you a chance to talk to a range teachers about what the day to day is really like.
    I came into teaching from industry many, many years ago and have, on the whole, enjoyed the journey.. But given the bureaucrat nightmare that passes for teaching these days means that I wouldn't make that move now
  4. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I also used to work in the software industry - I swapped because it was all about chasing money and working stupid hours. On balance, I'm much happier now, although you'll probably need some higher-level work to keep you sane - in my case it was the A level and working on systems for use in school.

    When I made the swap, in 1997, teaching almost felt like being on holiday compared with the 100-hour weeks that people were working in industry, but teaching isn't like that any more. The workload of pointless, inauthentic tasks has increased dramatically.

    On a more positive note, after a couple of weeks of teaching ICT in 1997 I tried to swap to Maths because it wasn't what I was expecting. It got dumbed down even futher after that, but the introduction of Computing as a subject in the 2014 National Curriculum has reinvigorated my love for teaching and I'm probably now happier in the job than I've ever been.

    Depending on where you live, you might not find that it's a salary cut in the long term - I live in the Midlands, and I doubt I could earn more back in the software industry unless I went for some non-technical managerial position (which I wouldn't really want).
  5. MadHatter76

    MadHatter76 New commenter

    thanks for those replies! Good stuff to think about and generally positive experiences :)

    Perhaps it isn't the perfect time to be coming into computer science as it is new and may or may not stay (I think it must given the world we live in now?), however I am not too concerned about that as I had pondered other subjects and could possibly move over to maths or science if CS gets dumped. It's a year or 2 away anyway yet, so time to get in the classroom for some some experience before committing myself.

    The useless paperwork trail does concern me a little - we have plenty of that in industry too though :D I have some hope that it's a phase that might wear out one day when somebody in charge realises it doesn't help anybody (fingers crossed!)
  6. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    I worked in control engineering writing low level code for high performance systems like jet engines for years before going into teaching 20 years ago. I would advise you to phone up and / or write to Heads and Heads of Department in local schools, ask if they could let you come in and observe / teach for a week, take a week's holiday at work and see how you get on. You'll have to fill out a few forms and do a DBS check.

    If you can teach mainly Computer Science up to A Level, can work in a school with good behaviour systems in place, work in an independent school or abroad, have a good classroom presence and are okay with reams of pointless sh1te that takes up a dozen hours a week, it could be a good move. The job is both rewarding and completely soul destroying at the same time. If you are married, hide your money because divorce will probably follow soon after starting the job. Mental and physical illnesses from the stress of the job is now very acute and you need to be aware of the high rates of illness, early deaths, stress related illnesses and teacher suicides. Be prepared to lose contact with friends and family, having a poor social life, a pension that is not anywhere near as good as it used to be, a salary that is getting worse, sleepless nights, a bullying, no-trust atmosphere and working in a place where nothing you ever do is good enough. Constant scrutiny is the order of the day. Be prepared to be shocked at the truly dreadful behaviour of students in your bog standard rubbish comprehensive and the total lack of management of poor behaviour - one of the biggest problems faced by teachers today. Students generally can happily tell you to f&&& off and know that if you try to do anything about it, you will spend hours of what little time you have.

    Go ahead, try it for a week. It'll be fun.
  7. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Also joined teaching late. Enjoyed it. However, can't recommend it now. Equally not sure what will happen to the subject. If you really decide that you want to teach I would go with Maths. Get as much experience as you can in schools before you decide anything. the how can we make schools miserable places disease seems to be spreading.
  8. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    I would strongly recommend calling a few schools and volunteering for a week/shadowing a teacher (you'll need a CRB which you can sort out yourself). The reason I say this is that like most professions, teaching is nothing like it looks from the outside. You'll definitely spend far less time than you think stood in front of an engaged class of proficient programming students teaching them about multi-dimensional arrays and more time trying to fathom the ridiculousness of the new exam spec / chasing missing homework / meeting about student safeguarding etc. There's a world of difference between a secondary school teacher and a university lecturer. You may find that your love of the subject actually works against your enjoyment of teaching it through various frustrations you will meet.

    Also, take a long, hard think about working in a UK state school. Have a look at teacher retention numbers and take a wonder over to the 'workplace dilemmas' part of the community forum to see what you will be facing if you choose to go down that route. Being a 'bit dissillusioned' with your current job and remedying this by entering the fresh hell that is UK state education wouldn't be a wise move. I can almost guarantee you would be back here in 6 months asking what the best way to hand in your notice is.

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