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Please help - urgent and honest advice needed. Thank you!

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by SingSometimes, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    I've been accepted on to a course next year, having done months of web-based research, classroom observation and other prep. I also spoke to various contacts of friends and family who teach to get a good idea of what I'd be letting myself in for. Believe me, my eyes are not closed. I think I have a huge amount to offer and am passionate about my subject, etc. However, I am really struggling now - going into this when faced with a tidal wave of articles and blogs online essentially saying 'I strongly advise you, please don't go into teaching now' is extremely challenging. To be honest, I'm in a storm of tears tonight, from the stress of thinking 'what am I doing?' I am not in any way averse to working hard, I know I can think fast on my feet, but I do not know if, to be honest, my wellbeing could cope if I was thrown into a profession seemingly destroyed in many ways by successive governments. It's so hard. I could not cope doing 70+ hours a week, I know this from painful experience. But a 7.30 - 5.30/6, plus perhaps an hour or 2 in the evening and 3/4 hours on a sunday, I think I could do.

    The experienced part of me thinks if it is as bad as all the reports coming out are saying, just apply to private schools as soon as possible, where it will at least be better in some ways. I am on the edge of throwing this away - I feel for rational reasons - and yet I do believe at heart I would make a committed teacher. I would be so grateful for any thoughtful replies giving honest advice. I am in a terrible state and really am agonising over what to do. I haven't yet signed anything.
    jomaimai likes this.
  2. indusant

    indusant Senior commenter

    Hi there. Well done on getting accepted on to the course. It's good that you have researched and informed yourself of the current situation that teaching is in. It is sad that enthusiastic people such as yourself are being put off the profession. The reality is that even after years of training, teachers young and old are leaving the profession.

    You've read the blogs and the articles. From my own experience, I would have to say that there is no smoke without fire in this case. Without wanting to sound overly negative, things are pretty dire at the moment. I won't go in to everything, as you are clearly familiar with the situation. However, one look at the 'Workplace Dilemmas' section on this site or this thread: https://community.tes.com/threads/r...ssion-with-big-pay-cuts.726457/#post-11512584 will give you a flavour of the real situation.

    It's good that you have observed teachers and spoke to family members. Honestly though, you won't know how hard teaching is until you actually do it. This part of your post stood out:

    If this is the case, think very carefully if teaching is really for you. Once a teaching workload kicks in, it is not feasible to just work a couple of hours in the evening. The reality is that teachers get home and work most evenings, often until midnight. Then, they have to work at least one full day at the weekend. Holidays are not your own, as a large portion of them will be spent planning and marking. The workload never relents. If your 'painful experience' was anything stress related, I would say that it's probably best to avoid teaching.

    Again, please don't think I'm trying to be negative here. It's the stark reality of teaching today. It's incredibly tough. You will need to sacrifice your personal time, friends, family life to keep up with the workload. You will have people constantly looking over your shoulder to check that you are on top of things. Some (like me) are prepared to do this for a few years, but not for the rest of their lives. Ultimately, only you can decide if this is a sacrifice that you are prepared to make. Hope that all helps. All the best in whatever you decide to do.
  3. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter


    Give it a try if that's what you wish, you may succeed. Be aware that modern social representations of teaching are largely driven by marketing and that 'passion' will not get you through. Simultaneously, don't be anxious about possible anxiety but have strategies in place for dealing with it and any situation in which it arises. You cannot and should not be expected to give all of yourself to your work, so maintain your usual interests. Get your week's usual complement of sleep whenever you can, eat well, take plenty of exercise and keep lots of personal contacts outside of education. Remember that teaching is just a job, not a duty, not a vocation, not a humanitarian mission. It's a job.

    Most importantly, have a fleshed-out Plan B into which you can slide with minimal effort and expenditure.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
  4. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    Thank you indusant for your extremely thoughtful reply and I appreciate your concern over the part of my post which stood out for you. It's hard to explain so well but planning and marking don't intimidate me excessively per se - people very close to me teach so I appreciate the demands. I suppose I'm more concerned by the numbers - number of hours each day, and so on. I don't think you're being negative - what you describe is obviously the shattering experience for so many teachers. I think what I will do is give it a try - I did work hard to get my place - but do it with a balanced dose of enthusiasm and scepticism. I am someone throughout life who has been quite prepared to stand up and say no and argue my case and will do this I know if required - at the end of the day, if I'm being guilt-tripped/bullied by SLT/overworked unreasonably, I'll walk away or go to private schools. I may even end up saying something along the lines of 'Well, there is a teaching crisis. I won't do that as I want to stay in this career' - it wouldn't be a threat, it would be based on hard fact. But, I hope it never gets to that down the line and it works out and colleagues/demands are fair.
  5. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    Thank you for your reply - I will work hard to maintain that balance, although I do appreciate the first year or two of teacher training is particularly tough. I like your idea of plan B and I will start to line something up. If nothing else, it will provide good peace of mind. Hopefully, won't be needed but I think that's a very good idea.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    You are welcome. It is just a job but because it can be very enjoyable so difficulties in it and at worse loss of it can hit like an HGV. This is why Plan B is so important. It doesn't have to be something to which you will devote your entire working life If you have something you can almost immediately put into effect to occupy your mind and your body and to keep the wolves from the door.

    All this said, good luck to you @SingSometimes and be certain to drop in here whenever you wish for a moan or one of those whoop things upon which people seem so keen these days.
  7. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    Thank you again. At least plenty of time to think about that until next September.
  8. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I would add would you be in a subject shortage area i.e. Maths, Physics or Chemistry? In which case you might have a fighting chance of "fighting back" if unlucky enough to come across the increasing phenomena in teaching of bullying leaders? Are you prepared for the constant scrutiny and criticism? Are you prepared to be ultra sure that every little thing you say and do is perfect? Are you prepared to "watch your back" against people who are supposed to be supportive colleagues?
    It isn't just the marking and planning which will occupy your non contact time (i.e. home and holiday time) but is the data requirements/form filling/re- inventing the wheel - especially regarding schemes of work etc, the endless creating of "resources" whilst perfectly good now frowned upon text books languish in corners. Last but by far least are you prepared for the school-led Ofsted hoop jumping before the reality of it?
  9. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    Would rather not say as am wary of - however slight - identifying myself. What I would say is, yes, but I would argue back (if bad) that if they want to retain me, then, essentially, be fair or I will walk on (there is a recruitment crisis). I am quite prepared to jump ship if needs be because of the fault of a school. Or leave teaching. I could do that. Hopefully, however, it won't get to anything like that.
  10. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    And, my game plan is in any case unless it's really great, to go private. Want to teach in the state sector? Yes! Want to burn out and not be good for anything. No!
    needabreak likes this.
  11. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    Well good luck breaking in to the private sector as I would imagine that the queue of very talented teachers - those capable of inspiring kids with their subject knowledge and love of their subject has grown a whole lot longer! I can quite imagine that the private sector managers recognise the value of older, experienced teachers and especially those who are now prepared to take something of a drop in salary to keep in teaching employment. They are probably laughing all the way to the bank.
    needabreak likes this.
  12. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    It certainly seems like you are going in with your eyes wide open and having a back up plan is a great idea (in this case contacts help). You are absolutely right about the first couple of years being a challenge and if you can deal with that it should stand you in good stead.

    Other posters have given great advice esp. re. subjects and private sector jobs. Of course it all depends on the opportunity cost, in terms of what else you could do and what opportunity will be lost by pursuing this. It is all individual so like us all you will have to weigh up the pro's and con's very carefully.

    In terms of job satisfaction the actual t&l (together with it's outcomes) can be very fulfilling unlike any other job that I have undertaken, (there have been a few) but like the forums indicate you need a pretty thick skin to stay in the job long term, resilience is key (physical and mental health in particular) and you are likely aware that the rewards aren't always obvious.

    All the best NAB :)
  13. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    Thank you - I'm not so sure, though doubtless applicants are increasing. Salary wise, wouldn't affect me as I'll be starting out anyway.
  14. SingSometimes

    SingSometimes New commenter

    Thank you. Good advice. Out of interest, does your advice re resilience etc apply to working in private schools too? Have you worked in them?
  15. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    To the best of my knowledge and experience no it doesn't really apply, but I may have just been lucky *you can't vouch for everywhere you know...

    Overseas opportunities can be interesting if you are able to up sticks, even for a fixed period of time. But then I'm just an online anon poster, I would talk to people in the real world too to be fair.
  16. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    The hours you'd like equate to 60.
    Your PGCE is what you make it, nobody is going to shoot you if you don't work after school or on the weekend 70+ hours and on the opposite end, nobody cares if you do minimal work and pass with a satisfactory. It's only 1 year (an academic one too!) It will get easier.
    It's all about you, for you. What do you want? What are you capable of?
  17. oHelzo

    oHelzo Occasional commenter

    If you have a current career and qualifications behind you, the PGCE and teaching experience will suddenly open all kinds of doors. There are many options where teaching, training, educational theory knowledge/ skills are a big bonus should you decide teaching in a school is not for you.

    I speak as someone who took a leap from a previous career into teaching and now jumped over into (amongst other things!) organising training for healthcare professionals. Wouldn't have had the confidence or skills to even apply for it without my PGCE.
  18. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

  19. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    I'd just like to add that this is not true of all teachers. Even after two years of teaching I was working 8-6 in school, plus about 5 hours at home at the weekend, with virtually no work in the evenings. I still do about that now, many years later (although report-writing season can add to it for a couple of weeks).

    There are some good things about teaching, but I'm not sure if that's for everyone or just because I'm far enough along the path to be able to wade through everything, if that makes sense. Ultimately most people can get enjoyment from having children have a lightbulb moment in class, but everything else can squeeze out those moments if you're not careful.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.
  20. jomaimai

    jomaimai Established commenter

    Dear Singsometimes,

    I think there is no way you can know how it will go until you arrive to your designated school.
    If you have good managers, you will be fine. As simple as this.

    I am starting a new job (also with my eyes wide open) and my advice for you and me will be:
    1. be extremely organised,
    2. read all school policies and know who is who
    3. plan 2 weeks in advance
    4. do everything the minute they tell you
    5. e-mail involved people with what SLT or mentors have told you to see if you are doing the right thing (what they are asking you) and for evidence
    6. except for reports season, have a set time where you will not work :)
    7. If it does not work, jump out
    Good luck!

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