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Is this the right time?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by Purplecat82, Jul 22, 2020.

  1. Purplecat82

    Purplecat82 New commenter

    So..I have been offered a position on a primary PGCE course which is fantastic, but recently I have been disheartened by a lot of negative comments regarding teaching and the work/life balance. I am after some real advice.

    I will be a mature student, I graduated in 2017 and fully intended to do my PGCE later in life as I wanted to be around for my kids when they were younger. I ran my own business before becoming a TA in a primary school and then in secondary (I wanted to check which age range I wanted to work in before applying.) Both my children will be in secondary school and are pretty independent in the fact that they will come home and get on with their work etc.

    Having worked in schools, I am fully aware of the times and challenges of the role and am happy to be working 7:30-5:30+ each day in school and then some in the evenings at home. I want to be able to keep one day of the weekend entirely free from school work to have family time.

    Everyone I speak to who is a teacher is telling me not to do it. They say that they can't manage and don't get time with their families at all. Their children are all younger. I am not afraid of hard work and will strive hard to do the best for my students, but I won't let my life or my family life suffer because of my job.

    Honestly, is it really that bad? Are they just bad at managing themselves and workload or am I making the biggest mistake of my life??
  2. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Don't underestimate how much parenting teenagers need. More than 10/ 11/12 year olds in many cases.

    Yes, I am sure you are right, the 50 000 teachers who walked out last year were all people who were incapable of managing themselves and their workload :rolleyes:

    Have you heard the comparisons to PGCE students strolling into a burning building, ignoring everyone rushing out and muttering "surely it can't be that hot"

    Most teaching jobs will not be able to be completed in 10 hours onsite, a few hours in the evening and one weekend day.

    Some will, but it will be nothing at all to do with your ability to "manage yourself and your workload". It will just be luck, And even if you do get lucky, you might well not stay lucky
    agathamorse and install like this.
  3. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Why not give it a go, and if its not for you, get your PGCE and QTS and leave? Lots of people do tht, and are then able to offer priate tuition in the future, to fit around family and work
  4. jomaimai

    jomaimai Established commenter

    I believe what they have told you it's true and that you have a good plan to manage yourself.

    You seem to know where you are heading in terms of workload. But most importantly, you need to be aware that if you do not fit in the school where you are working, your life will turn upside down. If that happens to you, you need to be very quick and move to another school. Easier said than done!
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Everyone is telling you not to do it. Everyone cannot be wrong. You say you want one day a week for your family but those you've spoken to can't even manage that. To be frank, if I were your partner or one of your children and could only spend quality time with you one day a week I'd feel cheated.
  6. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    It is hard work and you will need to put the hours in but this is where finding the right school is crucial. You need to know the demands of the school, e.g. Does the school require written plans that are colour coded? Does the marking policy stipulate that you have to deep mark everything? How many staff meetings are there? What paperwork do you have to do for your class--does your seating plan have to be produced on a computer programme that never works? How are provision maps presented? Does the school use schemes of work? Do you have to record all cases of bad behaviour? (in one school I worked at, I recorded over 100 incidents for one child on the behaviour system..imagine how much time that took), what are the parents like? Do you have to submit a daily summary about your class every day? (yes, really!!!) Make sure you're organised and have a rota for things like checking reading records, recording spelling scores, etc - if you're primary.
    jomaimai, 43Meadows and agathamorse like this.
  7. zetafunction

    zetafunction New commenter

    If I see my younger self, full of dreams and aspirations and full of energy to dedicate a life time in providing education and a ways out through it for the future generation, I will stop myself from proceeding.

    I have never have been in a more demoralising, thankless and soul destroying profession, I am very sad to admit it to myself, " never under estimate the power of self delusion" but to be honest, I am heartbroken about my choice, albeit with very good intentions, about the paths I have taken, about what it could have been, about the road not travelled.

    I sit in the staffroom and look around all I see is broken spirits, defeated individuals, just waiting to get to retirement with their pride and faculties intact, I am one of them , although I deceive myself in thinking that I am just an observer, it is very hard to look at all those, including my own, shattered dreams and broken spirits, like soldiers in battle field blown apart their limbs thorn off, the soldiers will get a prosthetic but there is nothing worst then a broken spirit, there is no prosthetic for it , so I will stop my younger self to ever embarking on such a course.

    Of course you make your own decision, but history teaches us if we don't learn from it, we are condemned to repeat it! Teaching slowly traps the teacher, in terms of pay progression, more financial responsibility, guilt etc etc , right now at the start of one’s career, those traps are just that, traps, avoid them, run from them, life is too short and precious to be wasted, I am not saying teaching is not a great profession, it is, but our first duty should be to ourselves, to help ourselves, then only then we are able to offer that help to others. I have through my long career ( still in the trap) spoken with hundreds of teachers, the combined teaching life of may be over a century of teaching, and without exception I have been informed of the above, they cannot wait till the time comes for them to retire, that includes me too, life is too short, in the time scale of eternity, we are this little spark that is flying from the anvil of creation through the darkness and soon will hit the ground and fizzle out, choose carefully how you are going to use the rest of that brief flight to nothingness and oblivion!!!!
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    I think secondary is easier. What would your main subject be if you switched to secondary? I would go for the easier subjects in a sec eg PE (very little marking; very little accountability; not much bother from Ofsted) .

    If primary then avoid yr5 / 6 teaching if poss. Again it will make your life less stressful imho.

    Either way give it 3 years and have an escape plan is my advice.
    lau_bellagamba and agathamorse like this.
  9. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    wht makes you think that?

    That is just ignorance
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    but here @Purplecat82 is, pondering whether you are just bad at managing yourself and your workload....
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. install

    install Star commenter

    LOL. Your post is hilariously daft imho. I have worked in both and am conveying my experience.

    It is in fact your poorly worded post that is ignorant and arrogant at the same time if it cannot see others have opinions and experiences too . By all means differ in your opinion and share your own experience but don’t make flawed, naive and blinkered assumptions about the experience of others ;)
  12. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Even in healthy schools there is an undercurrent of resentment, negativity and moaning - the job is stressful and demanding, both physically and emotionally, and regular venting among colleagues is a natural outlet. There is also negativity from parents and students at times. Being resilient, when not at your best, in the face of a steady stream of criticism and negativity is one of the keys to survival in teaching: many new teachers find their positivity quickly eroded by the day to day reality of the job and fall apart thereafter.

    You're obviously self-aware, so survival by ignorance is off the cards for you - so my question for you is: are you strong enough to remain positive and happy under sustained pressure?
    agathamorse and install like this.
  13. install

    install Star commenter

    Love this thoughtful post.

    I agree mental and emotional resilience is key as is having a work/life balance. I would go further and say having the ability to switch off outside of work despite the mounting tasks and pressure is also vital .
    Romoletto and agathamorse like this.
  14. Caramel2308

    Caramel2308 Occasional commenter

    I love the job and have been in some schools that were better than others. I have only worked in one horrible school. I would work in any of the others again (but definitely not the horrible one) even though I have no intentions of leaving this one unless things in there change. I would say go for it - but I appreciate you need to make up your own mind. I get what everyone is saying about the down sides but not every school is like that. The people you need to have a conversation with is your family. Are they happy with you potentially working at home? I work at home but I know teachers who are much more productive in PPA and manage to keep all their work in school.
    I am not disputing anything anyone on here is saying (so no backlash please) but in my days before I became a teacher, I worked in an insurance company. One of the things we were taught during customer care sessions was that we needed to treat the customers right because people are far more likely to report bad experiences than good ones. What I am trying to say is that there are many teachers out there who do not report on their love of the job but people who don't have good experiences of the profession will more readily share their experiences (and I am not saying that these bad experience are misreported - they do happen as was my experience in that horrendous school).
    mellwaters likes this.
  15. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    you said you think secondary is easier.

    I have pointed out that that is an ignorant point of view.

    It is hugely ignorant.

    so you call me and my post:

    "hilariously daft"



    "poorly worded"





    becasue I pointed out you don't know what you are talking about?

    You don't know what you are talking about.

    It is very ignorant to say "secondary is easier"

    What you say about teaching PE is also ignorant.

    You don't know what you are talking about.

    You clearly have very limited experience

    Nobody should be making and decisions based on what you say.

    But anyone who had any doubts about whether or not to listen to you has now seen that your response to someone pointing out that your post is based on things you clearly know nothing about is to atempt to start flinging personal insults around.

    Just based on that alone, posters are going to be questioning your judgement
  16. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Well, that's one way to discourage the OP from joining the workforce.
    agathamorse and celago22 like this.
  17. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    Workload will depend on the school(s) that you work in. There is a lot of talk about cutting workload but some schools still have horrendous marking policies, planning expectations etc. You can expect your PGCE and NQT year to be a very steep learning curve.
    You mention the idea of people being bad at managing their workload - bear in mind that these people will have more experience of managing a teacher's workload than you will. It takes time to learn to organise yourself.
    Maybe do the PGCE and see how it goes?
    Teaching is a tough gig. If you work in a school that's RI or SM, it will be even tougher. If you go ahead with the course, do your research about where you apply for your first teaching post.
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. Purplecat82

    Purplecat82 New commenter

    Thank you all for you comments, I am sorry about the "Are they just bad at managing themselves and workload" comment, that was aimed at the people (friends) I have spoken to who are teachers atm, as I said before they are working full time with very young children and mine are older (if that will make any difference I am not sure!) I honestly didn't mean to cause offence at all.

    I am not going into secondary, having worked as a TA there, I see this this 100% not an option for me as I feel I would go insane teaching the exact same lesson 2-3 times a week or more and don't feel I would have the enthusiasm to teach teenagers who don't want to be in my lesson but have to be (teach MFL), I know you get primary kids who don't want to be there (have worked in primary too) but I can cope with that somehow better. I would rather not teach year 6 either....too close to teens!

    I have spoken to them a huge amount, but I just don't think the understand just how much I will be working from home/late in school etc.

    At the moment, I am still trying to show my family just how much work there will be for me to do.
  19. install

    install Star commenter

    Thank you for your feedback and getting back to us.

    Good luck whatever you decide. ;):):)
    agathamorse likes this.
  20. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    I wholeheartedly concur with the above - I was aware of the bleakness of teaching (behavioural issues, poor leadership, new fad after new fad, CPD designed for trainees and NQTs - nothing in place for 5 years plus teachers whose face doesn't fit, as you are not one of the gang to sit in a pub on a Friday night and brown nose SLT etc..).however, I was buoyed to remain by what I could add and make a difference to young people. The latter propelled me to train as a teacher in my 40s and I joined a super department, with supportive teachers, but also stressed and overworked teachers; but overall, I had opportunities and put the students first. Despite this, I have now reached the end of this period as I am shy of 10 years in teaching. I loved many of my classes, the satisfaction of improving many students lives but the changes that help education to supposedly evolve, can also be the stumbling block.

    The idealisation of new teachers, while expected, was often massaged as probable only to find their spirits crushed, when their ideas and outlook, is ignored in favour of some other fad; I've mentored a fair few teachers who left after their two years were up as a result of the ideology peddled by training routes and TV ads into teaching. Moreover, the pigeonholing of experienced teachers into remaining in the classroom and not seen as possible middle leadership contributors because cronyism is rife and nepotism rears its ugly head..the more you see this in the school make-up the more you feel demoralised and lose the passion for remaining. Yes, I have seen fantastic teachers fight through the prejudice of 'old' age in the profession and soldier on but eventually having to concede to leaving or being reduced to a teacher who 'cleans up' everyone else's mess from previous teaching years (esp pertinent in schools with a high trainee intake) or used to prop up an under qualified teacher given promotion because they are cheap and you have more experience than them; 'for the good of the department' but your own needs, career progression expressed through appraisals and performance management, are ignored and overlooked as insignificant and no one mentors you toward middle leadership. Marking books on a weekly or fortnightly basis, while manageable, can become burdensome because meetings get in the way..leading to longer hours per day, which can spill over into weekends! Be prepared for weekends to be part of your teaching schedule, at least in PGCE year and afterwards depending on your timetable etc. There is a cut off point for a teacher but you will have to work out where and how this will fit into your weekly schedule. Some teachers are able to manage this better than others but what gets you into a spin is the fact that you want to do it all. It is not possible. If you can justify to yourself that a good day's work has been completed, a great week of teaching/planning etc has been achieved, had a quick look through student books to gauge learning, then you can survive teaching. However, there is more.

    Frequent observations/drop ins/learning walks - largely designed to make SLT appear busy but can also be a waste of time in terms of the frequency in which the 'visits' to see your teaching, is concerned and improvements can be measured. The increased workload of administrative tasks, calling home for all tutees, writing your own letters to parents about their little cherubs not so great consistent and persistent poor behaviours, managers who operate under a weak school behaviour policy that served to add to the stress load of teachers to chase and follow up - exhausting - day after day. On top of this, having difficult to manage students dumped into your classroom, because you are the one teacher who has behaviour management under control, without seeking your permission.respectful discussion etc..it is time to reassess one's position. That is what I did. I am now out of the mainstream because it is entirely up to me to ensure that my well-being and pastoral care is at an optimum. The school is not going to do this.

    Teaching can be a fantastic profession if you can find the right school, and you would not know this until you work there, so my advice would be apply for PGCE, work in secondary - no idea of primary but be aware of some of the issues that exist.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
    Shedman, install, agathamorse and 2 others like this.

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