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Honest advice about teaching... please!

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by markymark72, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. markymark72

    markymark72 New commenter

    Okay, so I am thinking about training to teach Primary - I am 43 and would be starting a three year degree course.

    I have considered teaching primary several times over 20 years or so, and I already have a tough job, have my own kids and have spent many years doing voluntary youthwork so I know what hard work is and how difficult working with children can be so this is not some romantic notion - I am a realist.

    However, even today when I went to talk to the course tutors at the uni - plus a couple of students.... they kept saying how difficult the job was and how stressed everyone is. This is not really encouraging.

    As someone who wants to maintain a work/life balance and spend some time with my own kids and wife - plus doing my hobbies - I am becoming convinced that this would be a bad move.

    Today I was told by one of the teachers that every teacher they know is exhausted. Also, that I will be working nearly every evening and weekend (often til extremely late).

    I cannot find one person who seems genuinely happy or not exhausted.
    Is this what teaching is always like in your experience?
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I am passionate about teaching and am currently loving my job.
    Having said that I am exhausted even after this first half-term and find that a good work-life balance is incredibly difficult to achieve during termtime.My husband just realises that supports me, but without his support I think people might struggle. I am fortunate in that my family has grown and left home so I can spend evenings marking and preparing etc.
  3. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Loved my teaching career, mostly. However, I wouldn't do it now. Changed too much for the worse.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  4. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    An observation first.

    1) Have you spent a decent amount of time in a primary classroom before applying? I say this because, for all the youthwork you have done, working with kids in this context is wildly different from a classroom one. I would hate for someone to throw themselves into teaching without wanting to work with kids in the classroom.

    On the other points you raise I think it is very easy to get bogged down in the negatives of the job. At the risk of being criticised, I don't think teaching is always as bad as some make out. You rightly say you do not have romantic illusions of life in the classroom. I feel some teachers who have only ever worked in teaching have romantic illusions about what other jobs are like in terms of stress/hours/level of bureaucracy.

    1) What job have you come from? What hours do you currently work and what do you consider a reasonable work life balance? If you regularly are working unsociable hours, or are away from home a lot as part of your job, you may find teaching an improvement. If you already work long hours then you may not find teaching worse.

    If you expect to have your weekends free, be able to leave work regularly at 4.00 etc. then no, this may not be the job for you. To be honest by the time you are comfortable in the profession, your kids are going to be a fair bit older than they are now. In the medium term, considering you have to do a degree, it will be hard work. Maybe something to consider?

    I have taught for 6 years. I work a few hours at weekends and leave work most of the time at 5.30-6.00. May do a bit of marking of an evening etc. but nothing too arduous. I don't have kids though, so can really work as i please. There are peaks and troughs though. Report writing season, parents' evenings can see workload go up.

    2) What is your motivation for teaching? If it is a work life balance thing then i can see you struggling.
  5. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    As Dynamo has said, really. I don't have children of my own but do have lots of hobbies; I've been teaching for seven years and usually am in school 8am-6pm, will do a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon but the rest of the time is my own. Holidays I usually go in two days (1 1/2 this half-term) and do a day planning at home. It is a stressful job and I would advise caution to anyone wishing to go into the profession now, but I do generally enjoy my days.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Perhaps this might be the time to make a point I've made before.

    We do need people in teaching who are passionate about children and education and I would always encourage anyone who has that to do it.

    However, having said that I would no longer recommend it to a youngster as a life-long career.(Never did I imagine I would be saying that years ago.)
    I would say have some sort of career first, this can bring so much experience to the job. Aim to do the career for about 10-12 years to really give it and your students your absolute best, before you get burnt out like so many.
    And have an 'exit strategy' planned out well in advance, for when the job does start to overwhelm you.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    That's the bit that might not be possible. Unless your hobbies take place only in school holidays, you may not manage the same level.

    Many people with children spend the early evening with them and then do school work once the children are in bed. Your wife may have to make do with seeing you for 1 1/2 days at the weekend and in the holidays. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder... ;) ) I don't think the divorce rate is higher for teachers than any other profession, so I'd not worry unduly.

    I'm in my 20th year, still loving it and wouldn't swap for all the tea in China.

    Check other routes into teaching before you embark on a degree/PGCE route. You may find the 'learn on the job and get paid for it' routes suit you better, given your age and experience.
  8. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    You need a degree to get on these though. From what the OP suggests they don't have one yet, otherwise i assume they would just go in for a PGCE. You need a degree whatever path you choose.
  9. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Good point there Dynamo.
    Might therefore be worthwhile considering a degree in something the OP is interested in for it's own sake and then considering later on whether to use it for teaching or in another profession.
  10. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    If you want time to spend with your own family and to pursue hobbies, becoming a primary school teacher would be an extremely bad move.

    Your days would start at 8 and if you are in a good position, end at 8. Add a half day on Saturday or Sunday and you are working 70 hour weeks. That is why every teacher you meet is exhausted.
    emerald52 likes this.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I used to teach in the UK, but now I would never think of going back. As well as the UK, I have taught in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Romania, the UAE, Qatar and now China. Teaching in international schools beats teaching in the UK any day of the week, I reckon. Teachers in the UK have to put up with all kinds of garbage: student loans, crazy house prices, Council Tax, OFSTED, loopy SLTs, rude and lazy students who just want to use their mobile phones etc., etc. There is going to be a perfect storm breaking pretty soon, with so many teachers leaving, pupil numbers bulging and so few NQTs actually staying in the so-called "profession".
  12. mandala1

    mandala1 Occasional commenter

    I'd advise getting your degree via the OU (or other distance/flexible route) and doing a post grad teaching qualification, if after 3 years you still want to teach.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  13. OBakaSama

    OBakaSama Occasional commenter

    At the heart of the concern seems to be the issue of time management, and with teaching time management is paramount to enable you to be successful.

    The PGCE and NQT years are likely to be the most difficult years because of the paperwork involved; things become more manageable afterwards.

    Teaching can be all consuming of your time if not managed effectively. It can also consume a lot of physical space too....
  14. Dyesie65

    Dyesie65 New commenter

    I am chasing ITT after 25 years in business. These hours feel pretty typical in a "professional office" environment where you get more money but less holiday. Jobs outside of teaching have experienced many of the same trends of increasing hours, stress and bureaucracy. And a lot less job satisfaction or so I hope !!
  15. Rachwoo

    Rachwoo New commenter

    I currently work 10 day hour day shifts followed by several 14 hour night shifts, have enforced overtime, only 1 in every 8 weekends off- I can't wait to take on the challenge of teaching! A lot of jobs now demand more hours than you are paid for, unsociable hours and such. I look on to my friends in teaching with envy often, not underestimating or belittling the job, but the grass is always greener!
  16. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    I wonder, though, in how many of these long-hour jobs you could be one observation away from capability, where the goalposts keep changing, leadership are bullying you, you have a never-ending workload that only goes away for a few weeks once a year in July, you may never get a decent break because you're always preparing for the next lesson and you can't sleep for worrying about work/pupils/observations/capability/marking/displays/allegations. I'm not saying this is the same for every teacher and hopefully you'll end up in a lovely school, but this is the reality for too many teachers out there these days, it's not just long hours that you have to worry about. Most teachers have been through at least a couple of the above in their careers, myself included, but if you can get over it on the whole, it is a rewarding job in my view.
  17. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I agree with you. Just bear in mind though a few things. Yes holidays are longer. I regret to say I have had a fairly busy half term though. Worked at least part of three days. It is a perk, but I think there is desire from govt for some change eventually. Significant change will really affect recruitment though.

    2) don't underestimate things like parents evenings, option evenings, parent forums, new intake, revision evenings. Even things like staff meetings, that commercially yiu have as part of your working day, teachers don't. This regularly add on time at school

    3) more holiday, but the cost of going anywhere is remarkable. As is the fact everywhere is swarming with kids..
  18. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I do agree. Sounds like you are in nursing? You make good points and I think nursing is a harder job than teaching. Just don't be naive about the nature of the work. It isn't the hours worked that makes the job hard necessarily, it is the baseless targets that Sillow mentioned.
  19. MannyDog

    MannyDog New commenter

    There is a lot of negativity about teaching - especially on here.

    Once you are an able and successful teacher, you need to be ready to change when the government/managers whistle, and to be able to solve new problems.barriers to attainment, and be open to constructive criticism, and willing to ask for help from those senior/more experienced to you.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  20. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    It is not the hours that you need to work, if you are good at time management - that is easy to solve. It is the rest.

    Targets set based upon statistics that the person setting them either doesn't understand or if the do ignores the fact that it is far more complex then is suggested.

    Students always being correct in the eyes of school management.

    Pressure on most teachers to cheat to get results that are as a result meaningless.

    The fact that the above happens being ignored.

    People becoming qualified techers who lack basic requirements.

    The nonsense that Academies are best when the evidence suggests otherwise.

    Constant government interference for political rather than educational reasons

    Constant change, for no real reason

    New initiatives based u[pon no evidence, usually a rehash of an old system that failed.

    Gsr25, pepper5 and DYNAMO67 like this.

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