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Career Change: Military to teaching

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by connor_pafc, Mar 13, 2020.

  1. connor_pafc

    connor_pafc New commenter

    Hi there,

    I'm a 27 year old man currentlly serving in the UK armed forces. I'm seriously considering a career change to teaching (history).
    Main reason being to look at working abroad ASAP. Looking at the TES international job offers there seems to be a WIDE range of well payed job all over the world.
    I'd have to apply and complete a PGCE first and foremost and will look at getting some school experience before doing this. I do worry if it's the right job for me and based on alot of these threads there seems to be quite a negative response to the teaching industry. Anyone got any advice for me or pointers I'd greatly appreciate it.
    Thank you
    gmailcom likes this.
  2. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    I presume you have a degree already, in which case you would need a PGCE. Although if you were only interested in teaching abroad an iPGCE may suit you better.

    Before you get there though, as you note, it would be worthwhile spending some time in a school to get an idea what is involved. I would suggest contacting a local school to see if you could shadow a teacher for a day or two and get a better feel for what it is like.
    ellenlilymay likes this.
  3. elder_cat

    elder_cat Senior commenter

    For an ex-serviceman with a University degree, there should be a range of jobs you could look at other than teaching, whether that be here in the UK or elsewhere.

    Securing one of the well paid international jobs you refer to might not be that simple, given you would be competing with more experienced teachers for places. You might also want to examine your reasons for wanting to make a living as a teacher. Obviously the prospect of a reasonable wage and travel is tempting, but at the end of the day, teaching is still teaching, and many of the negatives associated with the job will still exist regardless of where you do it.

    My own experience of the job (here in the UK, rather than overseas) left me disappointed, demoralised, and both physically and mentally exhausted. I lasted 7 years, which with hindsight, could have been better spent elsewhere. I imagine though that there are examples of ex-service personnel who have successfully made the transition and enjoy the job, and hopefully one or two of them will post on their experiences, to give you a more balanced viewpoint. But do be sure it's what you really want to do, as it takes a significant amount of time and effort (and money, one way or another) to the get there.

    Best of luck with whatever you decide to do, hope it all works out for you.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    What @Stiltskin said in post #2. Make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for.
    agathamorse and Stiltskin like this.
  5. ellenlilymay

    ellenlilymay New commenter

    Hi Connor
    I think that people are negative about teaching as it seems as if it is a career in which you can get a lot of satisfaction in helping others to achieve, with good holidays and pay. However the reality (which you can see in other TES forums) is that the workload is immense, the quality of life balance is poor (considerable amounts of marking/preparation are done at home), and the behaviour of young people is increasingly challenging. As a member of the armed forces you are no doubt used to challenging situations but in teaching you do this with both hands tied behind your back as you have very limited sanctions.

    If you do not have a degree in History already you would have to do this in addition, afterwards, to a year's PGCE, followed by a year (I believe for a PGCE) of being a Newly Qualified Teacher on a much-reduced rate of pay until you qualify. During the NQT year you work in 2 different schools (one I believe from Sept-March and the next for a few weeks, finishing the year back at the original school - this seems to be the pattern) and receive considerable support and so it is unlikely you would be able to work abroad during this time.

    Going into teaching is a step requiring considerable reflection due both to the depth of the role (pastoral as well as academic), the sheer range of responsibilities taken on, and the considerable commitment required way beyond another 9-5 career in an office or elsewhere. There is also the aspect of being able to use emotional intelligence (which I'm sure you have mastered in the Army) and often having to calm irate parents, managers, Head Teachers, colleagues etc all of which is extremely challenging.

    You must be ready also for students and parents to be considerably less keen and committed than yourself to both school in general and to History, nor for them to have any drive whatsoever to succeed in many cases. Many teachers find this particularly disappointing in that their passion is not shared by their charges, despite spending many many hours of unpaid time slaving over wonderful lessons beautifully crafted.

    You must be able to deal with students who have learning or emotional difficulties, issues at home and behavioural problems both in terms of classroom behaviour and progress, and remember that you are at all times accountable for each student's individual progress irrespective of these difficulties.

    This is why in many cases here people on these forums are looking to leave the profession as they have not found the satisfaction they crave nor the ability to help others as they had so hoped when they qualified. I hope that your dream however becomes reality.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. gmailcom

    gmailcom New commenter

    Teaching requires long hours, routine and personal discipline - I expect this would suit your military experience well.

    I can think of two people I know who have switched from the military to teaching - it's good to have a bit of a range of previous experience within the staff of a scool, to give the children different perspectives, etc.

    Remember too that some schools have high percentages of military families, with large turnovers in pupils due to new postings, and your experience could be particularly valuable from a pastoral point of view in these settings.
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I agree but in the end I stopped recalling the experiences I had in my previous jobs in industry and the health service because the inevitable response to anything 'diversionary' was, 'Do we need to know this for the exam' or, 'Why are we wasting time on this stuff?'
  8. angedawson30

    angedawson30 New commenter


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