1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Secondary teaching?!

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by hope5, Dec 20, 2011.


  1. Hi, Please could someone outline what secondary teaching is really
    like? I am considering a pgce in history secondary after finding that
    primary probably isn't for me. Is it really that different? Or is there
    not much difference. I like the sound of working with an older age
    group. I'm having such problems trying to find a career that suits me. I am well aware of the difficulties, long hours and stress that comes with primary, and i suspect secondary is no different, but i picture secondary to be a more fulfilling job for me personally....
    Many thanks in advance!
     

  2. Hi, Please could someone outline what secondary teaching is really
    like? I am considering a pgce in history secondary after finding that
    primary probably isn't for me. Is it really that different? Or is there
    not much difference. I like the sound of working with an older age
    group. I'm having such problems trying to find a career that suits me. I am well aware of the difficulties, long hours and stress that comes with primary, and i suspect secondary is no different, but i picture secondary to be a more fulfilling job for me personally....
    Many thanks in advance!
     
  3. FollyFairy

    FollyFairy Occasional commenter

    It can be the best job in the world... but.. you seem to be already aware of the long hours and stress, however, knowing about it and experiencing it is two totally different scenarios! Your PGCE year will be hard and your NQT year probably harder, then it does get a little easier but there is no let up on marking, prepping, planning, assessing, etc, etc.. Your work-life balance will go out the window - even after 14 years! And then there are the teenagers, who can be delightful, hard working and conscientious or can throw tables at you across the classroom (I have experienced both!) I am, of course, painting a dark picture here of teaching - you may have a fantastic PGCE year and then find yourself in wonderful school/s for the rest of your career... to further find out what secondary school teaching is like can I suggest you read the workplace dilemmas, NQT, job-seekers and unemployed teachers forums... best of luck whatever you decide! xx
     
  4. Hi It is always difficult when making an important career decision. If you haven't done so already, why don't you spend some time in a secondary school observing history being taught by experienced teachers. This would give you the opportunity to experience first hand the day to day life in a secondary school and would also allow you to discuss your concerns with the history teachers.
    You could also contact the teaching information line on freephone 0800 389 2500 and ask to arrange to speak to a teaching advocate. These are qualified teachers who are able to answer your questions and address any concerns that you may have about entering the teaching profession. They can share their knowledge on topics such as behaviour management, workload management, subject knowledge and the curriculum.
    I wish you good luck whichever route you decide to take.

    Stephen Hillier, TDA
     
  5. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    My advice probably mirrors others to some extent.
    I am a NQT in secondary, I am in my mid 30s and since I was young felt that teaching was right for me and finally made the plunge to start the PGCE in 2010.
    My best advice is to observe secondary classes but if you can it is best not to sit in on classes with head of departments or well established teachers in the school. This is generally what happens when you go in to observe and isn't representative of what your first few years of teaching will be like! i started my PGCE imagining classes of well behaved students and for most of my placements they were, but when you become a NQT you realise that things are very different in your first year or two as a teacher.
    There are lots of stresses and I would recommend that you read the threads on the NQT forum. But not everyone struggles, some people have a gift for this career. Two of my PGCE colleagues have left teaching already and they were both rated outstanding and sailed through the PGCE. I also know five people from my PGCE who chose not to enter teaching at all. However the qualification is still valuable and you can use it for FE and other training roles.

     
  6. Also worth noting that History is one of the most in demand jobs for a teacher, and that History PGCE courses are overbooked in most instances, sometimes with up to 10 applicants for a place (in the UK), worth checking online first with the TES to see if there aer any opportunities in your subject before you sign yourself up to a PGCE. After April is when most job swill start appearing.
     
  7. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    Just thought I'd give a typical day for me as a NQT in secondary...................................................

    8.30am-Staff briefing in the staff room
    8.40-9am-Tutor time/assembly (time to ensure kids are wearing the correct uniform, shirts are tucked in etc..first battle of the day with some students refusing to take piercings out or to do their tie up properly)
    9-11am-Teach classes, spend the first 10 mins getting kids to settle, several tend to turn up late, battling with kids who have come in with food/drinks/mobiles and trying to confiscate these according to school rules. During teaching you deal with constant low level disruption-kids chatting while I am, texting under the table/eating crisps when they think I can't see, blatantly ignoring requests for attention and answering back about everything I say. When students are set activities during the lesson I then spend the whole time trying to motivate students to take part instead of staring into space, chatting to friends or if on the computer-playing online games or looking at sites they shouldn't be. If it is one of my difficult classes then they might be a nightmare for a whole hour and ignore any of my requests for attention.
    11am-11.20am-Breaktime (on duty once a week, the rest are never taken as a break for me as I am too busy)
    11.20am-1.20pm-Lessons again as above.
    1.20-2pm-lunch. Usually eating while doing some form of work.
    2-3pm-last lesson.
    3pm on-sometimes have students for detention, planning lessons, printing resources, marking work, sometimes department meetings or cpd sessions. Generally feeling stressed at this point from the constant confrontation from students all day.

    (Just realised I am using google chrome so my lovely paragraphs are now going to disappear!)
     
  8. Muttley_in_the_Midlands

    Muttley_in_the_Midlands New commenter

    Great post Georgia99. Good to read something without value judgements and dramatisation followed by dire warnings to the person who asked the original question. Thankyou, very illuminating.
    I'm also applying for teacher training as a career changer and at the moment I'm in a school which is a very high-achieving boys grammar and I have been told is not really like other schools!
     
  9. Hi Muttley, I am also a mid-thirties career changer, I have an interview next month for a SCITT course. I think the best way to know if this is right for you is to spend time in a secondary school. Lots of the posts on here stress the bad points of teaching, pupils behaving badly, long hours etc, but when I went into a school I got a 'feeling' that this was the right move for me, and I loved the bad bits - fair enough I was an observer but I can't wait to get stuck in! You shouldn't be put off until you've seen it and felt it for yourself, and I agree you may need to get out and experience things in other schools!
    As for the hours, I've worked in the private/corporate sector for 15 years, it's very performance driven and I work long, long hours with travel all over the country.....I guess I'm trying to say having to work hard and extra hours isn't exclusive to teaching. As working parents we find ways to manage and juggle!
     
  10. Hi Georgia99. Thanks for the low down on NQT in secondary. It is pretty much as I imagined. The description makes it sound exhausting and suggests that the teaching part of your day is challenging. Can I ask what motivates you to keep going back for five days each week? Do you have any regrets over your career choice?
     
  11. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    Hi Tatters, one thing about being a NQT is you do often get a rough time with behaviour but I know from observing more established teachers at the school that they have nowhere near the behaviour issues I do and they explain to me that it was the same for them as new teachers until they gained more experience and status within the school. Not to say those teachers don't get problems because they do but nowhere near as bad as I have described so that is the first part that keeps me going-the NQT is hard but things do get easier.
    There is a buzz when you design a learning activity and the kids love it and you get their attention and you see them enjoying it, even if it is only for a small part of the lesson. When the can recall things you learnt last lesson and you know they have gained knowledge because of your teaching-it is a great feeling.
    I may have made it sound exhausting but it is nice to be able to leave and go home at 3.15pm and I never seem to have much work to do in the evenings which is nice as I tend to get mine done during the school day. I only work 4 days though so that makes my life a little easier.
    Do I regret my career choice? I am in my 30s and joined teaching as a second career. I don't regret completing the PGCE for a second, it is a valuable qualification which can open many doors and I enjoyed the academic year I spent training through a SCITT. I have to admit that I dislike the assemblies and uniform checks and the fact that a lot of teachers around you are too busy and stressed to function sometimes.
    When I observed classes pre PGCE I saw teachers dealing with some challenging behaviour and I felt like I would cope well with it and was ready for the challenge. One thing I would say is that there is a very different feel when you are the one who is taking the grief from that student and having to manage it, it is not personal but it can be hard not to take it that way and it can leave you feeling stressed and unhappy at times. It is one thing that you can't appreciate just through observing teachers.
    I do think teaching has many benefits, the holidays and pension are very good and the salary increases very rapidly. By the end of the 6 week half term you do need to the holidays just to recover and recharge, I really don't think many people would manage to stay in teaching if there was only the mandatory 20 holidays a year as teachers would just burn out. You have to love working with kids to go into teaching, one of our lecturers gave us a talk and told us her best advice was that if we did not love working with kids then we needed to find another career. I know now that she is absolutely right, teaching kids is so challenging and you need to enjoy interacting with teenagers or you will just not cope in the long run.
     

Share This Page