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Will I regret going into teaching?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by brionyrichards, May 26, 2020.

  1. Hi everyone!
    I'm graduating next summer and strongly considering doing a PGCE/Teach First and embarking on a career teaching Modern Languages.

    It's something I really wanted to do as a child, and since starting university I sort of went off the idea, but since I'm now having to think about actually getting a job and starting on a career I can't decide whether teaching will be for me or not.

    I know for a fact that I don't want to go into a job that has me sat behind a desk 9-5, I want to do something at least slightly creative with variety, and I'm hugely extroverted so definitely want it to involve people, and I've always been told I would make a good teacher. I think I worry because 1) I have a (recent) history of mental illness and I worry that the pressure and stress would get too much, 2) I was bullied quite badly in school and I'm a little worried that secondary school aged kids can be quite harsh and I worry perhaps I'll take things too personally and my skin isn't thick enough to deal with bullying again, even from children 10 years my junior... and finally 3) ALL of my teachers in school really tried to put me off it as a career. Granted, it was a school in a low-income area, and I know that when I was there there were definitely issues in the running/management of the school, but I genuinely struggled to find ANY teacher who had anything good to say about it as a career and they all told me that if they could re-do their lives they'd pick another career.

    I guess I just want to hear: do you regret going into teaching? If you were a 21 year old, graduating from a decent university, predicted a high 1st, would you commit to teaching or in hindsight would you avoid it and go for something else?
    Thanks everyone, I hope you're keeping well :)
  2. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    I'm a first class graduate and PhD and well into my second decade of teaching - I don't regret having gone into teaching, but if I could go back and advise my younger self I would certainly advise myself not to teach.

    Based on the things that you have chosen to disclose in your post, I would advise you to look for employment which is more intellectually challenging and less emotionally challenging than teaching.
  3. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    Do you have any experience in schools, other than as a pupil yourself? If not, that would be a good place to start to decide whether teaching might suit you. Although you might not actually get into the classroom for months, a school might be willing to put you in contact with one of their teachers, who could share his/her experience and answer some of your questions.
    Shedman likes this.
  4. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Which languages do you want to teach? The nature of Mfl is changing. In 20 years or so things may be very different. Mandarin and other non European languages may be in demand. German has more or less disappeared as have Italian and Russian. Also A Level does not run in many schools now. I love languages but I remember one day when I taught 4 almost identical lessons on how to conjugate er verbs in French to 3 year 7s and one low ability year 10 group and then I realised how the job had changed. And then there is the behaviour . It can be lovely but maybe you should explore other areas before deciding. You can always train later in life.
    agathamorse likes this.

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    I taught abroad for some 16/17 years. I returned to the UK and wanting a change, I underwent a series of psychometric tests.
    "You'd make an excellent teacher" was the result. I'm still loving the buzz of watching the light going on in a student's eyes. Yes, there are moments when I want to go and scream but , no, after 36 years of the job, I'd say yeah , go for it !
  6. rolls

    rolls Occasional commenter

    We cannot know the answer to this question, neither can you.
    To have better idea think about what else you could do for a career and get some experience in a school to see what is involved. The danger is that some people become teachers because of their subject not because they want to work with young people. You need to make this decision from a position of knowledge - get experience and consider all your options.
  7. install

    install Star commenter

    I don’t believe in regrets. If you want to do something do it, try it, experience it. If you like it stay . If you don’t then leave.

    Life is too short for ‘What ifs..’

    Enjoy ‘your life’ . Just remember it’s not written in cement.
  8. msr2015

    msr2015 New commenter

    Hiya. I was in a similar position to you but by my final year of uni I was adamant that I wanted to do a PgDipEd despite a fear that I wouldn’t be able to hack it (I’m a bit of a worrier!) I can honestly say that five years in, I can’t see myself doing any other job and I get plenty of opportunity to exercise my academic interests. I have Teach Firsters in my team but took the university route myself. I’m a head of department for languages (Spanish and French) and would be happy to answer any questions you have on the specifics of MFL teaching.
  9. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    As @Kartoshka says, get some school experience or observation before you make your decision and be sure to talk to practising teachers to get their take on the job. Teaching isn't all standing in front of a class, there is all the other stuff like marking, planning, meetings, reports, pastoral, cpd and so on which may take up more time during the week than actually teaching. Just make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. mkl

    mkl New commenter

    This is such a difficult decision to make and I feel for you. I don't know whether sharing my own experience will help you in any way.

    I was badly bullied by the pupils in my first year of teaching, largely due to language problems (English is not my first language), and if anyone had told me then that I would still be in teaching more than thirty years afterwards I would have laughed at them. My probationary year was without any doubt the worst year of my life. I felt utterly humiliated and the dread of not being able to deal with bad behaviour is still in my bones. I threw in the towel after that year and worked as a temping secretary for a while (and it was bliss, comparatively speaking). However, I thought I owed it to myself to try again, and I did better in a school with nicer children (strong teachers will never know the true colours of their pupils). Things also got easier when I went part-time after my second child, and for the last fifteen years I have been teaching A Level only. I still spend a lot of time on marking and preparing lessons, but as long as I don't have to deal with behaviour management - and for a while I even had problems with large A level sets where half of the students did not really want to study my subject but were pressurised into doing it because they could not do much else - I don't mind that.

    Teaching MFL has its own problems (I taught my own language for a while) as many children simply do not see learning another language as worthwhile and / or they can't be bothered with the attention to detail it requires (many of my Sixth Formers struggle with the basics of English). I would not shy away from applying for jobs in independent schools (they are often the only ones who still offer languages up to A Level, anyway).

    So I don't really know what to advise you. You may be setting yourself up for a very hard time but you may also be lucky like I was. One of my daughters has decided she wants to go into teaching (Biology and Chemistry) and I have not discouraged her as 1) she will not have the same language problems I had 2) if you have the right personality and are lucky in your choice of schools teaching is still a very worthwhile and doable job 3) if you are hoping to have children one day, childcare is so much easier to manage with long teachers' holidays.

    Good luck to you!
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    I would say to do something else for a year or so before teaching.
  12. Lakes1975

    Lakes1975 New commenter

    Yes to the above. It sounds like you're looking to find reasons to do it and that's not a burning career ambition. Are you sure you're up to it emotionally?

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