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If you had your time over again...

Discussion in 'Retirement' started by eljefeb90, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. eljefeb90

    eljefeb90 Senior commenter

    I am going to a reunion of some old school friends next Saturday, all of us having been teachers for large parts of our lives. I haven't seen some of them for decades. I wonder how many of us would advise our younger selves to become teachers with what we now know. Although I had some great times in the classroom, I must admit that I actively dissuade people from becoming teachers. I am glad that my own children have less stressful careers with a decent work/life balance and far higher salaries. What would you say to your younger selves or do you say to recent graduates?
  2. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    This one could be difficult for me, as things are very much heading south at the moment.

    I think there’s a difference between the advice I’d give to a 21 year old now, and what I’d say to myself 30-odd years ago.

    On balance, whilst teaching has turned to carp over the last few years, in general it’s been great. Averaged out over my career, I think becoming a teacher has been a good choice.

    The advice I’d give to my young self would be to try to pay in 3 or 4 extra years whenever I had chance, and try to pay off the mortgage just a bit quicker. If I’d done that I could retire now. As it is, I probably need to get maybe 4 or 5 more years in, and it’s going to feel like double that.

    If my 21 year old self were considering starting teaching in 2018 ? I’d say RUN!
    emerald52, Jamvic, 1970devon and 4 others like this.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I agree with PeterQuint, I don't regret becoming a teacher and loved my own experience, but that was 'back then'. Now like you eljefeb90 I actively dissuade people from joining the profession. Well that's not strictly true, :oops:, my advice is, "If you're passionate about becoming a teacher, go for it. We need dedicated people who are passionate about teaching or else how will those children' students get a good education? However plan to do it for a certan length of time. I'd say a maximum of 12-15 years and have your 'get-out' planned well in advance. "
  4. Startedin82

    Startedin82 Established commenter

    I have nil regrets about choosing teaching as a career. However that does not mean I would choose it now. My 3 children laugh when my wife (also a teacher) or I ask them if they are thinking of going into teaching.
  5. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    I have regrets about the type of schools I worked in for the first 21 years of my career. In retrospect, working in the type of State schools I did, for 21 years before going overseas, as some kind of self assumed super hero, saving the lives of the less fortunate, was not the best job match. The endless battles I fought, took their toll.
    I do think my teaching course/degree was a good choice and would do it again.
    I would work overseas earlier and probably have looked for alternative ways of making income at around 45-50 years old.
    I have found a friend who I am 'flipping' properties with back in UK, using the income from my overseas work. Without going into detail, I am potentially earning as much as I would from UK teaching with a lot less stress. I wish I had done that earlier.
    I think teachers have so many varied and useful skills and personal qualities - resilience, tenacity, organisational skills, logic - that would thrive in the outside world. I blame poor careers advice in the 70's.
    If I were to look more generally at 'regrets' I probably have 3, maybe 4 major regrets in life which I would have approached very differently.
    However,being a glass half full person, I am grateful for all of the right choices I have made and opportunities that have come my way.:)
  6. granddam

    granddam New commenter

    I came into teaching from a very different profession some years ago (before it became fashionable to do it and make a fuss about it). I do not regret the choice, despite taking a major hit in income, and I think it can still be a very rewarding profession for those who find themselves in the right school environment or more generally who have the energy to cope with today's major issues: e.g. poor behaviour, large classes, lack of resources, but most especially high expectations of teachers and accountability for things for which teachers shouldn't be held accountable. I have been fortunate to find myself approaching retirement in a great school where I feel supported and valued by colleagues. However, that wasn't always the case at the start of my career and I do worry about the impact of expectations on younger teachers, especially those with young families themselves. I am particularly concerned by the rise of a culture that expects everything from teachers (including SLT) in terms of extra commitment and hours but then blames them when they can't cope because they 'didn't manage their stress effectively'.
  7. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    You're spot on.

    I have had years and years of great results.

    But recently, if any pupil is below target, I'm asked all sorts of questions as to why, with the implication that it simply shouldn't be happening.

    It's worse when you know that the members of SLT asking the questions never had (and in some cases still don't) have results as good as mine.

    As I said earlier, I'll be escaping soon. It's a question of getting to the finishing line in one piece over the next few months and years.
  8. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    It's a different world from 1969 when I decided to become a teacher. it was right for me apart from the last bit. Still have no idea what else I could have done.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  9. eljefeb90

    eljefeb90 Senior commenter

    I remember in the eighties how shocked we were when a well-liked and experienced teacher went off with mental illness. It was so exceptional that our then head teacher actually sensed that the staff were over-reacting to this sad news and told us to stop behaving as if the kids' behaviour was threatening our mental health.
    I cannot say mental health illness became the norm as the years progressed, but it certainly became more commonplace. Our shock and surprise as a school body in 1984 just wouldn't happen now. In my last five years, extreme stress became normalised. I remember a mature student who spent a week in our school saying that the staff were like a 'defeated army '.
    I remember chatting with colleagues who had anxiety dreams or who couldn't sleep or switch off. In a moment of candour, a colleague of mine admitted that she occasionally considered driving into a motorway pillar on the way to work.
    How did things get so bad and how, in all conscience, could you recommend a job that often takes such a toll?
  10. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Roughly, my teaching career fell into four parts.. In the late Seventies to the early Nineties, I really enjoyed the job. I felt like a professional, left to do things my own way, the outcome being the only criteria of success. From the advent of the NC, in the early Nineties, the process became increasingly important, with the constant re-writing of SoWs and the beginning of 'teach-by-numbers'. Generally though, I still enjoyed the job. The early Noughties saw the beginning rise of managerialism in schools, when actual classroom teaching became secondary to producing figures, and jumping through imposed hoops to give the burgeoning number of managers something to do. The nose dive was the school becoming an academy, when management became downright hostile, and life became the sort of nightmare @eljefeb90 describes.

    I met my wife when were both teaching at the same school. She did not return to teaching after our daughter started school but went into hospital administration. She enjoyed her job until managerialism struck the NHS, about twelve years ago, when continual re-structuring' and 'reorganisation' made hanging on to her job like a game of musical chairs.

    I think I should have got out of teaching about 15 years ago. I would actively dissuade anyone form going into teaching now.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Isn't it sad that so many of us who really care about education would caution young people from joining the profession today! :(
    But who will be left to teach our grandchildren?
  12. seasoned

    seasoned Occasional commenter

    My motivation for joining the profession 36 years ago was my background; being brought up in a coal mining community where some great teachers in my local Comprehensive gave me the support and encouragement to gain a place at Manchester University and I was the first member of my extended family to gain such a feat. I then spent all my career teaching in inner-city secondary schools in' challenging circumstances' helping and motivating youngsters to achieve their ambitions. Society''s changed and schools have become exam factories but I'd still recommend teaching to anyone who wanted to make a difference to people's life chances.....
    Jamvic, eljefeb90, PeterQuint and 2 others like this.
  13. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I taught school leavers and adults, so if I had to choose teaching again, I'd probably still want to teach that age group. They came to lessons, not because they had to, but because they had chosen to and they wanted to pass their exams in order to get the work they wanted - which is a different thing to trying to teach people who have no interest in learning. They can't ALL be like that at school, though, can they? I hope my grandchildren aren't.
    eljefeb90 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  14. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    I think the hope/idea is that we need a crisis caused by a major teacher shortage change policy.

    We should not stave off the crisis by agreeing to succumb to whatever whim the profession throws at us.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  15. sci

    sci New commenter

    So many comments made here that reflect my views- thank you all. It is sad that teaching is not valued by all recipients and their parents. It can be really enjoyable - just not always!
  16. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I encouraged a former student (her parents are friends of mine) to go into teaching. I ran into her at an event on Sunday. After three years in the job, she is absolutely loving it. So much depends on the person and the school/department they end up teaching in.
  17. littlejackhorner

    littlejackhorner Senior commenter

    I agree with Peter Quint. To my 21 year old self I would say teach for a couple of years in the UK then go and teach abroad. I began teaching before the national curriculum and I loved the freedom and trust in my professionalism of those early years in my career. To a 21 year old now I would ask them to think seriously about what they really want. Do they want to be constantly monitored, blamed for poor results and with no guarantee of ever getting a pay rise? I know there is still some joy in making a difference and inspiring young minds but I think in many schools this is outweighed by all the negative aspects of teaching.
    eljefeb90 and PeterQuint like this.
  18. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    I agree.

    But if someone asks 'should I get into teaching', you have no idea which school(s) they'll get.

    On balance, I think there's far more likelihood of getting poor treatment.
  19. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Possibly, although the majority of teachers I know are happy in their work. That may be because it is a small sample or because I live in a good area. This forum is probably not a good guide, as people who are unhappy about something are far more likely to have a dilemma than those who are, so it is a very biased sample.
    Lucy2711 likes this.
  20. ikon66

    ikon66 Occasional commenter

    I stared late in life, at 38, and retired at 59.5 with 21.5 years. As much as the job got too onerous in the last 5 years. I wish I’d got into it 15 years earlier :rolleyes::rolleyes:

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