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How do you really know if teaching is for you?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by vick85, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. vick85

    vick85 New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    So I'm coming to the end of my Masters and I'm arranging to spend a few days in a secondary school with the aim of getting a true insight into high school teaching. It's always been a career that I have considered and do feel very passionate about education and my subject (English). But that's all well and good, what really concerns me is if I can cut it as a teacher. My experience of secondary school was not the best and in the area I live there are plenty of horror stories about!!

    So my question is how the hell do you know if you can cut it? I feel like I do have the potential to be a good teacher but the thought of dealing with confrontational teens scares me to death! They'll smell my fear a mile off :D

    Is this simply a sink or swim scenario when you start you ITT...
  2. Hi,
    Simple answer - spend more time in school. It's the only way you're going to know if that's where you want to be. If you enjoy spending time in the classroom, rather than dreading it, then it's definitely the career for you. When I volunteered in school, I had the BIGGEST EVER smile on my face when I left - the children just made me feel genuinely happy to be there, I def knew then this is what I wanted to do.
    I've just got myself a PGCE place and I always wonder whether I will be able to 'cut it' as a teacher! But I'm a very positive person and that's what the ITT courses are for, to prepare you to teach, to help you develop as a teacher. So as long as you ENJOY being in school, I think that's all that counts.
    If you do get a placement, see if the teacher will allow you to do individual tasks with a small group of children. I did this and it allowed me to experience what being a teacher is like! If you are taking a year out after your masters, I suggest maybe going for a TA job or a CS role - something that gives you an idea what teaching is like.
    Have you done any experience yet? If your experience of secondary isnt so good, attempt to do some days in primary aswell. A lot of people do this if they are unsure what age they prefer, and if you struggle with confontational teens it's probably wise checking out primary level. My decision was quite easy, I went for Primary because I cannot STAND teenagers!!! :p
    You'll soon know whether teaching is for you once you've spent more time in the environment.

  3. Yes, it's tricky... but I think djaye is right - if you enjoy being in school for yourwork experience, that's a good sign. You'll feel horribly out of your depth at times but that's to be expected. I did two weeks school experience before applying and that kind of sealed the deal for me. I had ups and downs and felt like a tool at times but I really enjoyed it - I still have the Good Luck card the class made me up on my fridge. Get stuck in, do whatever you can to be involved, see how you feel at the end...
    The moment that really made me think "I want to do this" was dealing with a kid with ADHD. I'd been helping him in class - and I thought we'd done fine. Then I came back to him, and he'd done literally nothing for half an hour. And he said "I didn't get anything of what you were talking about" (which may or may not have been true). So we had another crack, and we still didn't get very far. But then at lunch, he came and sat next to me and we had a chat, and he offered me some of his lunch and talked about himself and his religious faith... and I thought "I really, really want to do my best for you. I want to learn how to do this properly".
    Now, I might turn out to be a **** teacher because I haven't done it for real - but it was the school experience that made me want to give it a go.
    I would say that if the thought of confrontational teens scares you to deal then maybe secondary isn't the route for you - you could think post-comp or primary. I have two small kids, and I had enough exposure to rooms full of screaming children to imagine myself being okay in a primary classroom.
  4. Hi Vick. I have to repeat what people have already stated. Get some experience in the classroom. I am currently changing my career to become a teacher - very daunting, but I know it's right. I managed to secure some days in both primary and secondary using my annual leave, and honestly, I did not want to leave the school and go back to my current role. I had a smile on my face and right then and there I knew it was for me.
    Have a go and try it out!
  5. I would echo what the others have said. I am currently attempting to change careers, and have a Primary PGCE interview next week. I also used my annual leave to do some work experience in a primary school and loved every second, even my husband commented on how happy I was when I came home. So I know it is the right career for me. I know that there will be many ups and downs along the way but I can't think of anything else I would rather do. But as the mother of a daughter in Year 7, I know secondary is NOT for me! ;)
    Good luck with whatever you decide to do :)
  6. vick85

    vick85 New commenter

    thanks everyone for your supportive advice!! Hopefully once I get into the school and get some hands on experience I'll be able to make a more informed decision. I have spent time in primary schools in the past and did enjoy it but my love for English really spurs me towards secondary.

    I'm also considering FE lecturing in order to work in colleges (with sixth formers or with adults wanting to get back into education etc) although when I mentioned this to a careers advisor she cautioned me to be aware of government cuts etc and upcoming changes to Lifelong learning. Yikes! Anyone have an insight on this or recommended websites where I can possibly find out more? I guess I should actually ask on the FE forum that caught my eye earlier...

    Thanks once more :)
  7. Do your experience for as long as possible. I've been doing one day a week in my old secondary for about 4 months now and I've even been able to teach bits of the class. Ask the teachers to let you do as much as possible. Group work etc and make sure you observe bottom ability as well as top and mixed ability classes. Observe a variety of teachers and you'll soon see which type of teacher you would like to be (and those you will try your hardest not to be like!) Don't let the confrontational teen fear put you off. Just watch how the teachers deal with those situations.
  8. Being excited to go to school in the morning and not dreading the early start and happily getting up and out of bed was a a big thing! When I go to work in jobs I'm not keen on I HATE getting up at 7am or earlier...
    Having the children listen to you and to watch them improve because of the help you have offered or what you have taught them is an amazing feeling!
    The relatioship you build with the children. I had one boy in my class that I worked with a lot and we had auch a strong relationship. He used to come to me before anyone else and I thoguht that that was wonderful. He drew me a picture which I have kept and framed.
    Everytime I go back to school after being at uni during term time, the class leap at me and are SO happy to have me back...it's just the most wonderful feeling!!
    I want to make a difference to their lives and give them he best possible start that they can have with their education :)

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