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Positives about a career in teaching?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by hattie09, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. hattie09

    hattie09 New commenter

    Maybe this is a boring post...but I'm starting my PGCE in a few weeks and I've been doing a lot of research online to hear about other people's experiences and how to prepare and there is just so much negativity.

    I just think it's really sad that the general advice is 'teaching is gruelling, you work ridiculous hours, it takes a huge mental toll, you'll only be successful if you really love it' and so many teachers leave the profession - teachers should be given so much more support! Surely it shouldn't be this way!

    Anyway, given that I've read PLENTY of people's bad experiences, I would just love to hear the things you love about the job. Why you keep going even though it's so tough. Why you think others should become teachers. Why it's worth it!
    Collywoggles likes this.
  2. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    I hope my views will 'count' seeing as I'm on my way out of the profession. No, I'm not cutting and running from a terrible experience, I'm just getting old and heading into retirement (through semi-retirement).
    There's no point in denying that teaching can be 'hard', in the sense that (full-time) teaching undoubtedly takes up a lot of time and energy. Luckily, I've been married to a teacher, so a lot of the stresses and strains and pressures have been shared. I've also learned, over the years, that there are many 'tricks of the trade' which can be picked up with experience, which make things easier.
    Having said all that, I've loved my career, 1982-2020 (or thereabouts, depending on what I get offered or decide to go for over the next few weeks). Most of my work has been with primary children, and I've really enjoyed their curiosity, personalities, questions and opinions. I've kept in touch with some of my ex-pupils, and it's a real reward to hear about them making their way in the world, hopefully changing it for the better.
    Teaching has always changed as fashions in spelling, maths etc have come and gone. I've never had a problem with this, I've always had an interest in (and been a coordinator of) computers, so I've worked with everything from Tasword on an Amstrad PCW256 to Word on Windows 10, DigiBlu cameras to IWBs.
    I can't extol the advantages of a teacher's life without mentioning the holidays, and how they've given me the chance to travel and see a fair chunk of the planet. I've never apologised for the holidays we get. Whenever I've been collared by someone who responds to news that I'm a teacher with a slightly disgruntled 'Oh, yeah, all those long holidays...' I never apologise or explain; I just nod and smile and say, 'Yeah, fantastic.' They usually change the subject after that.
    But, teaching hasn't just given me holiday travel opportunities, I've taught in the UK, Kuwait, Japan and now Spain, so teaching has also given me the chance to learn a second language as well, having moved to Spain (to teach) in 2006 I'm now reasonably able to negotiate an appointment with my doctor, bank manager or whoever.
    Teaching (here in Spain) has also given me the source material for my books.

    I'd always recommend teaching, especially primary, but I would offer some words of caution...
    Be ready for some hard work. Learn the short-cuts and tricks of the trade from teachers you come into contact with and admire (we're great sharers, and if they've survived, so can you). Use your holidays wisely. Be honest when you need help or time or advice. Say 'No' when it's the right thing to say. Think carefully about 'promotion': I never wanted to leave the classroom, that's where most of the fun is, so I ducked out (or jumped off) the 'greasy pole' before promotions began to take me out of it.

    And, marry a teacher, if you can. Or find a partner who will 'understand'.

    So, Hattie09, I don't think yours is a boring post, I think it's exactly what a lot of new teachers will want and need right now. Have a great career, and if you're not already on Twitter, I'd suggest joining that too for help, advice, resources, friends etc. I'm @JeremyJoseDean

    Best of luck... in the best job in the world.
    eddimob and celago22 like this.
  3. Sadie_E

    Sadie_E New commenter

    Beautiful response @Jeremyinspain.
    I have moved on from wanting a career in teaching (but still find TES an interesting read). l realised too late into my PGCE but early enough to not pursue the NQT induction, so was able to resume my previous career.

    I would say that with regards to teacher training, you won't fully know whether teaching is or isn't for you until you get to your second placement.

    Going into teaching is not just about passing the PGCE/gaining QTS against the Teaching Standards, it's about understanding and fulfilling a commitment. One that can become compromised by your emotional, mental and physical health and any other important priorities that may affect your ability to put the needs of your students firmly as top tier.

    I had some challenging school placements in way of behaviour but honestly, l enjoyed being in the classroom and teaching those students who had been written off as troublesome. This by far was the best part of my training, especially when a class teacher was amazed and shocked that l was able to get certain students up and involved in activities l planned.

    I didn't have any major issues within the classroom and had very positive feedback that reflected my progression. Sadly l had issues with one mentor which wore me down to the point that l decided I didn't want to build a career in an industry which had such a baffling workplace culture where extreme bullying was seen as part of the job.

    On a side note and regarding the low retention of teachers, my personal opinion from what I have observed is, the teachers whose teaching l admired the most were the ones who felt burnt out. They also tended to be the ones who were inspired to become teachers because of negative experiences from when they were at school. I find this interesting as it was my experience of school that made me consider retraining from Molecular Biologist to Teacher.

    I now realise that if l wanted to exact change based on my experiences, a Masters in Education Policy would have been the best place for me rather than the classroom.

    Good luck for September and don't overthink any potential hurdles based on my and others experiences. Each trainee from your cohort are going to have very unique experiences, just focus on yours.
    Jeremyinspain likes this.
  4. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Agree Sadie_E, very wise. An anecdote from my experience: I supervised a primary PGCE student for her final placement. She was one of the 'I've always wanted to be a teacher' gang and she was fantastic. I got an Xmas card from her 4 months into her first posting, she was ready to quit the profession. Essentially, she had been given 'the class (it was year 5) no one else in the school wanted' by her first head, and she was failing.
    I explained that the fault here was her headteacher and not herself, and advised her to see out the year if she could, then look for a (better) school (well, at least a better head) for the following Sept.
    I caught up with her again in May or June and she'd turned the situation around and (through a lot of hard work) was succeeding, of sorts - well, her head wanted her to 'move up' with the class into year 6 for the following September! She decided to agree to this but to leave the school at the end of her second year.

    The moral (for me) is that not all of the problems you might face in teaching are your fault, and the ability to understand this is one of the key skills to learn quickly.
    PGCE_tutor and celago22 like this.
  5. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    So accurate! I would say that every job has positives and negatives, it just depends what you want those to be. For example, teaching would not be appropriate if you wanted a lavish lifestyle. There will be times in your teaching career when you would prefer to work at Tesco or wonder why you even bothered to train in the first place. However, here are some of the positives :
    - those 'lightbulb' moments
    - teaching children who are disengaged initially then grow to love learning
    - the things kids say!!
    - the relationship you can build with the class and the laughs etc you have along the way
    - some staff members are really supportive
    - to some extent you can control your own day
    -when a child has done extra homework and they're keen to show the class
    -celebrating children's achievements
    -racing them on sports day!
    -when you see the impact of your work
    -when chn say they enjoy coming into school

    It's hard work but totally worth it if you end up in the right school.
    Jeremyinspain likes this.
  6. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Agree with everything you say, celago22, but this is what's kept me in the classroom and not 'up the greasy pole' for 38 years: "...the relationship you can build with the class and the laughs etc you have along the way..." The laughs are so important, children should be laughing and smiling, it was always the first thing I tried to achieve in my classes.

    There really aren't many other jobs like it: I would imagine doctor/nurse might be similar. Not such a boring post after all... ;)
    celago22 likes this.

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    Remember it's not YOU and THEM, it's us. Your learning journey is together.
  8. Lakes1975

    Lakes1975 New commenter

    You meet amazing people - colleagues, pupils and others.
  9. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I married a charming lady who had absolutely nothing to do with schools, teaching or education and it was a relief to go home and not talk about life in the classroom. As for finding a partner who will understand well, that sounds as if you'll be looking for someone to prop you up as the job drags you down. If you're going into teaching then take it head on and do it off your own bat rather than thinking you will need someone to help you through as you struggle on. If it gets to that stage get out.

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