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Unsure about going into teaching

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by phys17, Jan 27, 2019.

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  1. phys17

    phys17 New commenter

    I am currently nearing the end of a masters degree in nuclear science / engineeing and I'm looking ahead to what I should do for a career.

    I would like a career that is in demand and one that I am able to "take anywhere". I am not keen on the prospect of working in an office all my life, which might be a reality in engineering consultancy. I've been looking into teaching for a while and I receive regular emails from "get into teaching" and also teaching agencies... so there seems to be a demand. I used to volunteer at a school and also with disabled children with Barnardo's as a play worker (before government cuts). I enjoy working with children.

    I have read the statistics about x number of newly qualified teachers quitting the profession within 5 years. I've also been reading a lot of posts on this forum and the posts worry me... I would like to gain a clear picture of why exactly people are deciding to quit. I want to be as informed as possible. Can anyone offer input?

    There are a few things which I don't want in a career and there are a few concerns I have about teaching:
    - I don't want to be micro-managed all the time.
    - This links to point one, but I prefer to have personal responsibility and autonomy. I like to problem solve rather than do things a certain way.
    - Stability. If there are a large number of qualified teachers it suggests I could be easily replaced / pay kept low?
    - The workload. Is it reality that teachers are working evenings and weekends?
    - Possibility of boredom. I enjoy working with children but it might not be intellectually stimulating. I have no idea how to gauge this as my only previous jobs have been office work and exam marking.
    - Colleagues. It's difficult to explain this one but I want to be working with people who are decent and motivated.

    I'll leave it there for now. Thank you in advance!
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  2. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    It is clear that you are under no illusions as far as teaching is concerned. However with your background I would guess that many independent schools would love to hear of someone like you. Assuming you are prepared to become an NQT and obtain a PGCE with QTS your horizons are vast. I suspect some Independent Schools would consider taking you now if they felt your potential was acceptable. I went into teaching the normal route as a Physicist with X-ray expertise and did teach both Physics and Mathematics to a very high level.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  3. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Do it. Teaching can be very satisfying and the shortage of physics teachers means you'll have plenty of options - including in british and english-speaking schools around the world.

    Most of the time I love teaching and it's allowed me to work in some amazing places. I thoroughly recommend it.
     
    simonCOAL and agathamorse like this.
  4. agathamorse

    agathamorse Occasional commenter

    Physics teachers are in demand so you could get a job in a good school. But the micro managing exists in most state schools and yes, we regularly work evenings and weekends. It is great being in the classroom but the rest of the job is dreadful, boring, time consuming and soul destroying. There is no job security and pay doesn’t progress automatically. I’d work shadow a teacher in a school for a few days so you can see what it is like and if it’s a job you’d like to do. I say job because it’s not a career, not anymore.
     
  5. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I can only speak from my own experience, but agree with everything @agathamorse has said.

    On the other hand, I can honestly say that the vast majority of my teaching colleagues have been hard-working, decent, highly motivated and honest people.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Having read the latter part of your post - I would avoid going into teaching.
     
    agathamorse and Mrsmumbles like this.
  7. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    Class teaching can be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. It certainly isn't boring. No two schools are the same so it would very much depend on where you get a post once you've qualified. Micro managing does go on in a lot of schools in England and you won't be completely autonomous. Most teachers work evenings and weekends. Colleagues may be decent or may not - depends on the school but that will be the case whatever job you go into.
    I've never worked in an independent school or abroad and others have raised these two as options - possibly worth investigating - there are message boards about them on here. It doesn't sound like many state schools would be right for you because of the workload and micro managing.
     
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  8. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    teaching can be wonderful, but this: "- I don't want to be micro-managed all the time." is going to happen, whatever you are told at interview.
    And this? "- The workload. Is it reality that teachers are working evenings and weekends?" Surely you are joking? I was part-time and I worked an average of 60 hours a week. That was an experienced teacher, working part-time. You would be full-time and you would not have twenty plus years of knowledge to draw on. (No criticism of your intelligence, just a fact.) Oh, and you will work through the holidays most of the time too. So much for all the time off you hear about.
    I suspect teaching is not for you, but who knows. You could train and be paid a wonderful golden hello and then leave after a couple of years. Or you might be briliant and fulfilled and happy. But I would be wary.
     
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  9. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    You say you've had some experience volunteering in schools but yet you don't seem too sure of what teachers do apart from the teaching bit. As I suggest to all aspiring teachers, approach local schools and ask for a day or week observing classes and talking to the teachers. You say you want to be informed so get yourself into a school and see for yourself the realities of the job and then you can ask the teachers their perspective on the job.

    With your qualifications there are a whole range of careers you can get into, just make sure you are fully informed before you make your choice.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Just. Do. NOT. Do it!
    It was once a great career but now it really sucks. Even if you got a nice job in a school, they tend to turn psycho in you when you get over 30 and you just don’t get pay portability and easy career moves any more. These forums are full of people who were pushed out and jumped from one sinking ship to another. And look, you've got a science ackground, you could make far far more tutoring privately or staying in engineering,
     
  11. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    It happens in some schools, not in others. It may depend on whether you work the way your managers want or insist on working in a different way that they don't like, or whether you complete your admin on time.

    Remember, the problem is how to get 9C to understand Newton's second law, not solving degree level equations yourself.

    Sadly the Government probably still think that a decent recruitment campaign is all they need to restore this.

    Definitely

    It depends what you find boring. If the challenge of keeping 30 teenagers engaged in their science lesson is a stimulus then you're well in. If the idea of doing moments yet again (did that last year, and the the year before...) fills you with dread, then it's not for you.

    .
    Most teachers, when not overstressed, are decent and motivated. My experience of very part time work in mainstream is that I don't cross paths with most of them. The kids will vary. The managers are probably motivated, but may seem to have forgotten the niceties of politeness in the cut and thrust of running a big organisation with insufficient funding.
    In my last couple of years of full time mainstream, the lack of funding really got to me. The only new stuff in my department was exercise books (and you had to look hard to find them).
     
    Mrsmumbles and agathamorse like this.
  12. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Some experiences from a PhD physicist a couple of decades in:

    Micro-management - poor management is a risk in any workplace, no less so in teaching. In my experience in teaching, the persistence of the micro-manager is inversely proportional to the stiffness of your backbone.

    Autonomy - certainly not an automatic right, more likely to be granted if you are a great teacher / leader and more likely in an independent school.

    Stability - competition is not an issue for a good Physics teacher or a strong graduate. Don't expect pay that impresses your peers who go into other professional roles though - pay progression is pants and invariably involves taking on extra work.

    Workload - it's a reality that some teachers work every minute that they can and that the professional culture is unhealthy. See earlier comment about backbone though: it's not essential to martyr yourself if you have options, strategies and a clear head.

    Boredom - teaching certainly does not provide intellectual challenges that are comparable with those presented by your academic background. Some colleagues do find intellectual challenge in pedagogy, others get involved in the wider running of the school (for little or no extra reward) and some find intellectual challenge in what they do outside of their PAYE job.

    Colleagues - tricky one. In the independent sector and overseas I have worked with staff who, in majority, are decent and motivated, though even there you are rarely going to be working with the brightest buttons in the graduate box. By the time I left the state sector there was a large and growing gap between the character of my well educated and intelligent older colleagues and the type of people who were entering the profession.

    Lots of factors here from seed to canopy, among which: poor recruitment standards, unmotivated new career entrants, poor training, poor induction, poor reward, workload issues, a depressed culture, inappropriate career acceleration of poor leaders, lack of public support, falling parenting standards ... I could go on.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
    annascience2012 and agathamorse like this.
  13. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Much of the above is spot on. So, you might ask, how does one avoid all the pitfalls? Well, it comes down to what school you work for. And then being under no illusions that should the leadership change you might need to move schools again.
    Things you can do to help.

    Live in the south. Home Counties preferably. It’s far too expensive for teachers so very very good schools have to work very hard to make teaching a positive thing.

    Do a university based PGCE. If you are in a school that is a poor fit they move you to another school. If you are in a SCITT it’s you that gets moved on. Also don’t do a QTS only course.

    Don’t do a course with block placement. Having a day a week out of school enables you to manage your time effectively and build excellent networking.

    Ask the course leader about their connections in terms of finding you employment. You want well connected course leaders who can help you find work overseas, in the independent sector and across the country.

    They quit because the capability rule means they are vulnerable to being bullied into a miserable existence by poor leadership. People don’t leave teaching, they leave a poor leader.
     
    annascience2012 and agathamorse like this.
  14. annascience2012

    annascience2012 New commenter

    Do it! Although I'm unhappy in my school right now (Physics teacher, independent school), I'm looking for another school and I'll never regret going into teaching. The happy buzz you get when a student finally understands voltage in parallel... it's the best.
    Will you have bad managers and some sub-optimal colleagues, yes, yes you will. But I'm pretty convinced you'll get those in any job.
    The hours - they definitely don't have to be as gruelling as people say. (I've worked in a state school before too). After your first year or two you'll have time-saving strategies. I'd say I work between 45-55 hours a week teaching full time and I have another part time job on top of that. The hours are long but don't have to be crazy; horrid managers and snipy colleagues can be, but I really think that's a risk in any job.
    Good luck!
     

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