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Secondary School Teacher

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Teachers make a difference and can positively influence their students.

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      26.07.2010 22:59
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      How i nearly lost my sanity.

      Teaching is a vocation for me. I wanted to do it from being about 5 years old, and went into it via a PGCE course after doing my first degree. I had seen from my own schooling that teachers were respected and made a difference.

      I qualified in 2002, and i gained a job at one of my training schools which pleased me a lot to be aware of what i was getting myself into.

      For the first 3 years i loved my job. I worked extremely hard with some very difficult kids. I was promoted twice, and my school filmed me as a teacher who showed excellent practice. This was used as a training device to share with trainee teachers and other members of staff.

      My experience changed in 2005. We sat in our regular morning meeting to hear the word every teacher dreads. 'Ofsted.' Within days they had been and judged my school to be in 'special measures' and i was personally told how inadequate my performance was based upon 20 minutes watching me teach a year 8 class who had got together and decided to act up especially in front of the inspector.

      My confidence became shattered. I was under a lot of pressure as i was acting as head of department. Not only was i responsible for my own inadequacies, but for the whole of my department. The stress became too much and affected my throat and voice so much i required speech therapy before i was able to return to school.

      At the same time i went through personal changes. Within 2 years i got married and had 2 babies.

      The sensible option to me seemed to be to go part time, working 3 days per week. Even this proved to be very stressful as the workload the school place on me was unsustainable around my family commitments.

      Without any exaggeration, this was a typical day for me after OFSTED.
      6am wake - get dressed, work while eating breakfast. My husband would help me get the kids up and dressed, and i needed to leave before 7:30 to drop the kids off at nursery. 20 minutes drive to work, followed by literally kicking the kids through the door. Barely time to tell the nursery staff any news, no time for tantrums so often leaving two crying children. 8am - arrive at school and set up classroom. 8:30 see form. Teach between 9am and 3pm. During my 20 minute break i would tidy my classroom and set up the next lessons. Lunchtime was spent trying to mark and chuck a sandwich down my neck. 3pm-4pm - have detentions or be in a meeting. 4- 5:00 - try and do some marking. 5pm - pick the kids up. 5:30 - arrive home, try to bath the kids and sort them out for bed. 7pm get my husband to cook dinner. Eat while working and then plan lessons and make resources until 11:30 or midnight. If i had time, get a quick bath, or if not wash. Never have time to iron. Or make a choice between smelling nice by bathing or looking better by ironing.

      Was my experience the normal? I don't think so. I saw other members of staff leave pretty much on time and not take home big bundles of marking. So maybe it was me doing it wrong.

      However, it was my experience that i was being told i was inadequate. I was being asked to provide an A4 detailed lesson plan for every lesson. I was being inspected every few weeks even though unions say this is not on.

      I returned to work after having my children in a very positive mindset. I wanted to be a great teacher. I worked my socks off to try and be a good teacher. Within 6 working weeks of this level of work, i was again signed off work with stress related depression. This was so severe that in spite of medication, councelling and working with occupational health, i was made to make a decison which ended up being me leaving the profession.

      This is something that is still affecting me a year later.

      Yes, it can be a great job. The salary is regular and reliable, and pay increases rapidly over the first 6 years between £20,000 and 30,000. People who are not in the profession picture teachers who are slackers who only work between 9 and 3, and get 12 weeks holiday a year. This is far from the reality though.

      Teachers, whether classed as adequate or inadequate, work long days. Often this is at the sacrifice of something on a personal level. Most of the teachers i know get ill at the start of every holiday when their body is allowed to relax. Personally, i would work a good proportion of every holiday to try and keep abreast of all the changes that were brought in every year. Just as i got my head around the national strategy the next initiative would be brought in to immediately get into the classroom.

      There is a constant pressure to meet targets that are set for the school on a national level. You are responsible for Fred Bloggs whose from a deprived background and doesn't ever attend to achieve this level because when they were 6 they were at this level so that should mean they are now here. There is no room to be flexible and teach things the kids might be interested in.

      Forget about seeing your siblings and parents for weeks on end. Forget about cleaning your house properly for weeks upon end so you need to spend entire days doing so when you get a day off. (Not just my experience as i have seen several teacher friends on facebook make status updates in the past week about how they are spending their first days of the summer holidays cleaning.)

      Yes, they may get 12 weeks of holidays, but they work the same number of hours anyone else does crammed into less time.

      And, if you are truly unfortunate you might also be threatened, or actually injured by a pupil who the school will probably fail to discipline in a suitable manner. In my LEA alone, we had a supply teacher who was shot in the backside with an air gun, a teacher whose arm was broken by a pupil who was brawling, and a teacher who had stones thrown at their head. Personally i had a pupil hold a staple gun within a foot of my head and threaten to fire it, and another who told me he would set fire to the school if i dared to give him detention.

      I would say, i still think it is a great profession, but only get into it if you can handle the long hours, poor behaviour and can rattle off paperwork without thinking. I cannot see myself going back into a secondary school classroom unless i was a classroom assistant as i was too soft hearted for it.

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        06.11.2009 09:40

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        Those who can - TEACH!!

        I have mixed feelings about this - i spent 3 years teaching in main stream education and to be honest did enjoy my time. I enjoyed the day to day interaction with my tutor group and watching pupils develop and learn plus loved the staff i worked with.

        The problem for me however was the repetition of what you do on a day to day basis. Due to pressures of targets and grades you are unable to spend as much time on topics as needed and there is a real taregt driven ethos in schools these days. Another issue is long hours at school plus the extra marking/extra curricular activities you do for the "love of the job".

        People always say "yeah but you get long holidays". my response is often one stating that most teachers have to use half of any holiday planning and preparing for the following term - and if they are lucky enough to go on holiday they have to pay 50% more than at any other time!

        It truely takes a dedicated soul to to it for a long period of time with very little thanks - but the kids make it worth while (sometimes!!)

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        09.10.2009 18:27
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        my job and why I love it

        Whenever I tell people that I am a Secondary School Teacher I get very varied responses, from the "how do you cope with that age group?" to "don't you get great holidays!" to, very occassionally "I would love to do that!".

        Teaching is one of those careers that is still seen by some as a vocation, for me it is essentially a job which can be rewarding but also damned hard work. It has been my career since the early nineties, some of the children I started out teaching are sending their own children to school by now. Through too many government initiatives to count, the massive increase of IT in the classroom and, in my own private life, the arrival of two babies, one thing that hasn't changed is my love of the job and passion for the subject I teach.

        In my career I've worked in State Schools exclusively, my experience has ranged from being in schools where the teachers' cars regularly got set on fire, and learning was minimal, to schools where there is a palpable sense of excitement, where everyone including the pupils, is working hard to succeed. Strange as it may seem both environments can be rewarding in their own way.

        Teaching isn't all positives, to start with it isn't easy to define what the role is. It is probably easiest to explain what teaching isn't; it isn't a job that ends when the school bell rings at somewhere around three thirty, it isn't a job you should consider because you can't think of anything else to do, it isn't actually an easy job. I think that in general nowadays there is an increasing recognition of the work that teachers do, however in this country these days teachers aren't automatically respected in my experience. Often too it seems that they bear the brunt of the blame for many of society's ills in the media, but for some people teaching can be a fantastic career, I don't regret that it is mine for a minute.

        The route to teaching:

        A good place to look for information on the routes to teaching in the UK is www.tda.gov.uk. Here you will find out the most up to date information on courses, fees and also bursaries available. You have to pay tution fees nowadays, but "golden hellos" or bursaries may soften the blow - how long this will last in the light of future cost cutting is hard to tell.

        You will need a degree to teach, or the equivalent, plus C grades or higher in English and Maths.

        There are various routes, the most common is probably the PGCE, a one year course after your degree with plenty of hands on teaching experience. Some formerly "shortage" subjects such as science still have a quite generous bursary attached to them, for doing this training, but anecdotedly applications are up since the economic crisis and competition is now stiff - if you are considering applying you should really read up on the requirements before making your application. It is also, in my opinion, essential to contact a school and arrange to observe a teacher, again details on the website.

        You can also opt to do a teaching degree or train "on the job" as a graduate teacher. In my opinion if you have some experience of the "the real world" before doing a teaching degree it helps, otherwise you are going straight from one classroom into another.

        In terms of my own experience I found the PGCE year to be a very steep learning curve and very time consuming - I hadn't anticipated how it would feel as an adult to have to continually reflect on your performance, from the way that you speak to the way you interact with others, that was hard, even as a mature student and required a measure of humility that has stood me in good stead in my career since my training.

        What the job entails and practical details:

        Salary wise these days salaries start at £20,000 and rise to £30,000 with experience. There are additional allowances for those working in London, when you are qualified you can also apply to take on additional responsabilities. There is also an upper pay scale for those with most experience who have reached certain criteria of teaching excellence, and this is the salary I get paid, and in my opinion having been in the job for many years the salary I get paid is a fair one.

        An average day does not finish at the end of the school day, and sometimes actual teaching can be the least of the things you do. There is lots of preparation and marking, but also you will find yourself being counsellor, semi social-worker and a replacement parent at various points of the day. You don't go into a room, teach and then go home - it is a job that does need more than that whether it be coaching that netball team in your own time or getting to the bottom of what is making a child miserable. You need patience, a good sense of humour and an ability to multi-task in order to make it through the day. Don't expect to get a lunch break or sit down very much. Do expect to find every day challenging and different and, in a good school, to feel like you belong and are important to your pupils.

        These days you will have to have a good level of skill in IT - much of my work is with interactive white boards, and the powerpoint presentation is now a firm part of the classroom experience - chalk and talk is long gone.

        The average day is never average - a day can either be intensely rewarding or drive you to the edge of despair. Even working part time as I do now in an "exceptional school" (according to Ofsted), I can still find myself worrying about a child long after work time, or thinking about how I can best deliver a lesson in the wee small hours. Sometimes too I will fret about bad behaviour in a lesson long after the child themselves has moved on. Today I found myself taking part in a psychology lesson experiment, singing very loudly with some year 7's (first year), and discussing the economic situation, in French, with some 17 year olds, and consoling an eleven year old who fell over and bashed his shoulder, that's variety for you!

        You will work with children of all abilities and backgrounds in most schools and so being sensitive to others is pretty essential, and good people skills are a must.

        Who should teach?

        I don't think there is a set blueprint for who should teach - I do think that a passion for your subject is absolutely vital, you need to want to be able to share your knowledge with others, you will need to have a thorough knowledge of the subject that you want to teach.

        Contrary to popular belief you don't need a tweed jacket with patches if you are a Geograpy teacher, or "sensible shoes" and I think children respond best if you are honest and yourself with them. As I have said I do think you need a sense of humour, patience and the ability to think on your feet when your carefully planned lesson plan goes out of the window. In my experience the worst teachers are those who see it as a popularity contest or are loathe to impose boundaries and rules, children respect neither.

        Overall:

        Overall teaching is a rewarding and interesting career. The highs are great - coming out of a lesson knowing that the children learned what you planned to teach them or making some vital difference to a child's day. Sometimes I feel that through teaching I too have learned something really interesting, and I really enjoy that. Teachers do work incredibly hard however, and harder than most people know so you should be aware of this before researching the career. These days I work part time and that works well for me, but at the start of my career I regularly worked every evening and weekends. You do get 12 weeks holiday, but in the early days I worked through much of this too. Working conditions have improved steadily throughout my career - you no longer have to do so much "cover" - teaching for sick/absent colleagues, and oftne now I do have support staff in my classroom to help with children with special needs. However those used to a commercial environment may still find themselves suprised by the teaching culture - expect to pay for your own Christmas dinner and don't expect too many material perks.

        Nowadays, for me teaching is a career that fits in well with my life and that I enjoy. I would recommend it as a career path provided you know what you are getting into. You will be regularly inspected, people will watch you teach, and you will get regular feedback. Ultimately your harshest critics wil be the kids you teach, but they are the ones who also make the job the highly rewarding one that it can be. Those that can do indeed teach, in my opinion, and teaching is definitely a career to consider.

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          08.10.2009 22:29
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          Think long and hard about this career.

          I have read - quite a few times now - that the average time of a new teacher staying in the teaching profession is 4 years. I am currently in my 6th year and preparing to leave.


          I have also read that the average lifespan of a lifetime teacher, once retired, is 6 months. My dad was one such teacher and died four months short of his 65th birthday.


          I write these 'statistics' down to show that teaching is not a profession to go into lightly. Increasingly it is becoming a job heavily loaded with extra tasks as government directives demand more and more new schemes for teachers to implement and report on.


          I made a change in career six years ago and completed the Graduate Teacher Training Programme. This is where you train on the job. It allows you to train whilst still receiving a salary (unqualified teacher rate). The other route is to take an extra year PGCE year at uni to train.


          I don't think my training school followed training guidelines - as on the very first day of teaching and without a mentor/experienced teacher, I was left to teach in a class of 30 fourteen years olds who were bouncing off the walls. It was a baptism of fire. I asked them what was the matter with them all. They told me that they were just pleased to see each other after the summer holiday. I ended up getting them to put all their chairs in a tight circle so I could keep them all in one place and get to know them. From that first day I learned to think on the hoof (always useful when a lesson idea bombs or something unexpected happens like a fire drill drastically shortening the lesson).


          I have taught in a couple of schools. The first one had real behaviour issues. One day, I turned my back for a moment in a class and a kid ended up with a pen embedded, nib first, in her forehead. Someone had thrown it javellin-like across the room! Recieving foul-mouthed abuse was a daily occurence. Even so, this school had some great moments and some lovely kids.


          The moment when even one student gets something or is inspired to do something is fab. The moment when you see the culmination of months of work turn into something wonderful is a proud one. The moment when a student tells you that the only GCSE she got was in the subject you taught her makes you feel that you have done something really worthwhile.


          However, the toll that teaching can take on teachers can be a massive one. There is often pressure to work many extra hours in a week (a teaching union worked out that it was around 11 unpaid hours a week for many teachers). This makes life very stressful if a teacher has family commitments or health issues. Allowances are not generally made for this. Once you are present in the school day you are required to submit an outstanding effort. New or young teachers may be in a position energy or commitment wise to give their all to teaching. I sometimes think this can be exploited by some school management teams.


          Non teachers will often tell me how lucky I am to have the lengthy school holidays. I generally need the first week of the holidays, at least, to stop feeling exhausted. I then spend the last two weeks of the holidays dreading the return to the punishing work regime - and feeling a bit depressed!


          Yes, the pay can be quite decent (around £20000 for a newly qualified teacher with some decent increments every year). It is likely that when I leave I will take a significant salary drop; money is not everything.



          I am aware that this will not seem like a very positive review about teaching - but I know that I am not on my own with this opinion. Teaching adverts on the TV, on billboards or on underground trains all tell the same story. The one that the ad agency wants to put across is the fun/rewarding element of the job. The one that the continual advertising tells - is of a career that needs constant recruitment. Why?

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            10.06.2009 23:16
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            recession proof occupation

            I write the review from having experience of being present in secondary school classrooms and through conversations with a lot of colleagues and friends that are secondary school teachers .

            The most popular and traditional way of becoming a teacher , is to get a degree in one of your strongest fields English , Maths , I.C.T and so on and so on . Then take teacher training , usually includes a placement and finally hopefully succesfully job search .

            I can imagine the main appeals of teaching being helping young people develop knowledge and skills and the 'buzz' of preparing them for what could be an exciting life .

            Other obvious appeals are the numerous half-term holidays , two week easter/christmas break and the glorious 6 weeks off at summer .

            Teaching is also a recession proof job , which to the more sensible people in the world is a very attractive prospect especially as you can earn a good living out of teaching . A disadvantage for the classroom teachers would be marking tonnes of books in the evening , but you cant have it all can you ?

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              06.05.2009 00:22
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              A Rewarding Career that can help shape the future!

              Secondary School Teacher


              **Background**

              I have been a secondary teacher for a couple of years now and thought I would share my experience of how I got into teaching as a career and what the job entails. I went into teaching aged 25/26 and honestly feel it was best to not go in earlier at 21 as it enabled me to gain some life experience and work in different professions first. With teaching you see everyday is a new experience and it is full of ups and downs. Some days are fantastic and you really feel you have made a difference whilst at other times with the constant change in government policies as every year there seems to be a new education minister. Not forgetting the threat of Ofsted breathing down your neck you can get jaded. Then there are the kids and the things they say that can make your day. I am sure I could write a book on the experiences so far in the classroom!

              I went to University in 1998 in Manchester and completed a degree in History and strangely even back then all my friends used to say what can you do with history 'be a teacher''. I was adamant that was not the case and signed up to do the law conversion course at my university but this was going to cost me £3000 plus then £6000 then to do the LPC then another 2 years in training on a low salary. So I opted to get a job as a graduate in a national company in the hospitality trade thinking I will do a year then go back to University to my deferred place. Trouble was one year in and the money was good even better than 2 years doing your articles as a solicitor.

              Then I moved back up even further north to home and first applied to do the PGCE- Post Graduate Certificate in Education. I couldn't decide on whether to do primary or secondary but opted for secondary in the end as I wanted to specialise in one subject rather than teach the full curriculum. But when the interview came along I felt I wasn't ready to go into teaching as something didn't feel right. I then ended up working in Human Resources before working for a famous high street retailer in quite a good management position. I then began to find I didn't enjoy working in a job where they did not care about employees but only profit. I began to think about teaching again as I realised I wanted to work in a job where people mattered as I liked human resources but not the hard selling and line the fat cats pockets. I realised what I got most out of my job was working with people and in my management roles I enjoyed coaching others to achieve more.


              **PGCE**

              I then decided in 2005 to apply again for the PGCE in Secondary and this time I went to the interview and secured my place. Doing the PGCE was blimmin hard work as you have so much to do over the time period of training. You get a bursary to help you get by which is a bonus and the PGCE I did ran from September until June. It is so much harder than a degree as not only do you have all the theory side of it to learn and the assignments but you have to complete two placements. In one year you gain QTS which is qualified teacher status and then you are let lose on you own! I honestly do not know how the new government idea of training people in 6 months would work as you really need the first placement to practice your teaching and learn from others and then the second part to consolidate. Also once you gain QTS you are still not a ''proper'' teacher as you have to complete an induction year to gain NQT status and I if you fail your NQT year that can be the end of a short lived career in teaching. Luckily I passed both my PGCE and NQT year with flying colours. I had two nice placements on PGCE and have been lucky in the two schools I have worked in so far where behaviour has not been such an issue.


              **The NQT year**

              NQT stands for Newly Qualified Teacher and you have to do this year within 5 years of obtaining QTS from your PGCE. Although a PGCE is not the only route in to teaching as you can do GTP or SCITT or a Degree with teaching as part of the award. Around about the January time of your PGCE the jobs start coming up on the tes and you start applying for your step into teaching. One thing to be wary of is if you apply for a job and accept only to later reject you will get black balled. Teaching is not like industry and you can not chop and change as it is considered unprofessional and your name will be blacklisted for a whole county. Some people I know have done this due to unforeseen circumstances and of course you have entered a verbal agreement with the school so they will not be too happy. Anyway the NQT year is a tough one and one huge roller coaster of a ride. You go in to the school in September all full of energy and the students in secondary schools in particular can be challenging for an NQT. You have to be observed several times over the course of the year to ensure you meet the standards set and then will be passes by the local authority. Then there is the tiny matter of the pupils who will test the new teacher and keep pushing the boundaries to see where they stand. They are just testing teachers like they would their mum and dad to see what they can or can't do! People often say don't smile until Christmas or be a hard nosed b@~ch. Year 7s (aged 11-12) will accept anyone in their first year as they have started at the school with you. The others years up the school know you are new and are harder to win round. I guess the first term is about building relationships and sustaining their trust.


              **Teaching**

              I find teaching in a secondary school to be a very rewarding career as once you have built up the relationships with your classes you will see dividends. The pupils respond well to praise and it's funny how you forget what praise can be as in industry we are never often thanked or told well done but this is what gets us all motivated to know we are doing well and know we are appreciated. I have found the simplest of rewards can motivate my pupils whether they are in year 7 or 11 and stickers go down a treat in all these years as I guess they love the novelty. Like I said earlier no day is ever the day and the pupils can make the strangest comments that will make you laugh. If you have had a class that were a bit off then the next class can soon make up for it. It is also brilliant to see pupils challenge themselves and really extend their thinking. We have had some good off timetable days at our school which have centred on developing thinking and enquiry skills where they get to show their creativity.

              I suppose there are a lot of drawbacks to teaching and I think the state education in our country is very misplaced at the moment. The government has completely mixed up its agenda and is constantly pressing on schools to be results driven rather than focussing on the softer skills which are needed for being able to get a job or live out your life. Unfortunately it is all about the A-C grades and points and that is the part that upsets me as it has taken away a lot of spontaneity from teaching and allowing students to really enjoy their education. I think the Ofsted system has its flaws and puts teachers under immense pressure and should a school go into special measures the pressure on them is far higher and demanding at a time when they need most help.

              Some may say you get all those holidays well yes that is true but when the kids go home at 3pm us teachers are either at home marking or at school. I personally work until 6pm at school every night and often there are lots of meetings after school or extra curricular activities that teachers hold. I myself often take work home too and then there are the parents evenings and report writing and I am even a teacher governor. So the salary may sound good due to the holidays but it is no easy ride! I would honestly say I really enjoy my job and find it very rewarding but at the same time straining and tiring. I am only in my third year of teaching and this is my first year in a promoted post so I have never had the chance to just settle and stay at one level as each year the bar has been raised. I do love the challenges and would be bored otherwise and would honestly recommend teaching as a career. I think secondary and primary teaching are both demanding careers in different ways but would say they are probably top in terms of job satisfaction and knowing you are helping to shape the next generations futures.


              **Any Takers?**

              If you are interested in teaching the TDA website is a great place to start and if you are at university they actually do taster schemes called SAS in certain subjects where you can get paid to spend a few weeks in school learning about the job of teacher. When I did my PGCE they offered golden hellos for certain subjects (not mine!) but now it has changed and I think some subjects offer higher bursaries than others. Teaching applications however are on the up as people think we are recession proof. However I think you need to really question why you want to be a teacher before going into it and possibly asking to go into your local school to observe your chosen subject. Also with pupil numbers falling some schools are having to issue redundancies or cut hours so the profession is still struggling too.

              Salaries in teaching are varied as you go into teaching on a main pay scale and there are 6 points to work your way up. This is good as each year you know your salary will rise and once you reach 6 years you then apply to go through threshold to upper pay scale where you need evidence to prove you deserve to get there. I am only 3 years in so have not got to that point yet. You also get more money if you hold a TLR which is a management responsibility like head of department or head of year. You can go higher of course into leadership or even Head Teacher. If you look on the TDA it has all the current pay scales on there.


              **Thank you and Good Night**

              Some may disagree on teaching and maybe think it isn't for them but some one has to do it! Well I hope that has given some insight into the job of a secondary teacher. I know I could have talked about so much more and got into detail on more of the controversial issues but I will leave those for another review maybe for speaker's corner!

              **extra please don't believe everything you read in the mail or see in waterloo road about teaching! Although I loved Channel 4s teachers!

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                28.02.2009 14:55
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                A worthwhile job

                I found the other reviews on teaching very interesting so thought I would add my experiences as well - which seem quite different. I am in my fifth year of teaching in a secondary school - I stayed in the same one which I had my last long training placement. I think this gave me a good advantage as I could see that the school was well suited to me and that I suited them as well!

                I teach English - although I have a Psychology degree so spent two years doing an English conversion PGCE. I love my subject - I think this is a must; you should have an abundance of passion for what you will teach. Otherwise how will the pupils be engaged! I have always loved reading and have always known that I wanted to teach so I am thankful that five years in I still want to be a teacher! I also now teach Media Studies so most schools will offer you more opportunities to develop your own interests and career.

                It isn't an easy job by any means - but I want to focus on the positive first, there are more of them! The job is (hardly!) ever boring, each day offers me different challenges and you are so busy on a school day that it does go fast! I love working with teenagers - they have a fresh way at looking at life which keeps me enthuasiastic and often amused!

                For me though, the biggest thrill I get is when I feel like I am helping someone and perhaps (I hope) making a difference in their life. When a lesson goes well and the pupils are engaged and enjoying a lesson - and learn all the outcomes I had intended it can give me a real buzz. One of the best things is when you manage to help a pupil, who may not necessarily be the brightest pupil, but somehow you manage to capture their attention for a few years and they come away with good GCSE grades something that I feel can help them in their future, or even on occassion change their future altogether.

                I am also a firm believer that a teacher is not just there to teach their subject and achieve grades. I hope that I help pupils develop as young adults as well, and teach them about becoming responsible and well-rounded individuals. For me their well-being is just as important - my pupils know they can always come to me if they need someone to talk to and I will always give them the time they need. This does mean I am often without a lunch-time but I would rather be a teacher that cares.

                I am also probably lucky because I found a school which I love working in and I am proud of. It is a normal comp with fairly good results but the staff are all friendly and my department is very supportive, this makes a big differene because if you are having a bad day you will get all the sympathy and advice needed. In my first years of teaching I often turned to more experienced teachers who helped me through the more difficult times.

                The downsides? There are some and I want to be realistic so those reading this who want to teach can be prepared. The workload can be heavy (during term-time anyway) - my subject involves a lot of marking but I do promise new teachers that it does get easier over time. But I can be very tired in my evenings after a long day. You can find that you work some evenings but I have to say that the long summers when you have a lot less work can help make up for this!

                My biggest worry and stress is that however hard you try as a teacher you will not be able to get through to every pupil. Some may just give up on learning, some do have behavioural issues, some have difficulties at home... the list goes on. Both the pupils and teachers are human after all and sometimes you have to accept that not every pupil will pass their exams or do well at school. I have to say though that on the whole, teenagers are not so bad, there are a few that can be very difficult and I have had a few dreadful issues but they are rare - and for every difficult lesson I have had many more good ones which make up for it.

                I know some people can get disheartened by the bureaucracy of the school system - and it can be tough at times. Policies from the goverment change constanly and a lot is expected from teachers but I feel that I still focus on the individual pupils. Yes, I need to fill in a lot of forms, reports and paperwork and attend endless meetings and training days but I ensure I spend more time with the pupils themselves. I also feel that every job has parts that you will not enjoy as much. It's important to be part of a union - they can help if you feel your school is not helping enough with problems you are having. Luckily I have not had this but know I can talk to my rep should I need to.

                It can take over your life a bit sometimes - if I am worried about a particular pupil or lesson then it can be hard to switch off in the evening and relax at times. But at least it is a job I care enough about to think about and put a lot of my energy and time into it. It can be hard at times, you have to deal with pupils, staff and parents so you need good communication skills and you have to enjoy working with people - you won't get a minute to yourself when at school!

                If you are thinking about teaching, I would really encourage you to spend time in a classroom before you take on teacher training - see if you enjoy the day-to-day life as a teacher and if you like being around young people. I would also encourage young teachers who are finding it tough to try a different school before they give up on teaching entirely, if you find a school you love and is supportive then it makes it a lot easier.

                And when you are in the classroom? My best tip is to be consistent. You need to set very high expectations at the start - I am known for not letting the pupils get away for anything and will be quite strict. But actually the pupils respect you for that and usually like the fact that they know what will be expected of them. It makes it easier in the long run - I set seating plans at the start and go through my rules and expectations on the very first lesson - and I won't deviate from them and set punishments when I need to.

                But don't forget to have a sense of humour and allow the pupils to see some of your individuality and personality. I try to create a warm, safe and friendly environment for all my lessons and on the whole, have good relationships with my classes and pupils. I had one class I couldn't get to grips with when I was newly qualified and remember dreading every lesson with them - everything was a struggle and they took all the patience and energy I had but I kept persisting. Amazingly, they all came out with good exam results so something must have gone in! I always say as well, that I have something to thank them all for because I learnt how to deal with a difficult class and learnt from the mistakes I had made from them.

                You constanly learn as a teacher - no one is perfect but you do your best. My Head of department (after teaching for over 40 years) says that he still learns new techniques and methods now - so how can this job get boring?!

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                  19.01.2009 10:20
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                  Good teachers have special qualities

                  I enjoyed the previous reviews on this topic so decided to add my own.

                  I have really enjoyed working with teenagers in previous roles and after seeing friends return to university and qualify as teachers was seriously considering doing the same. I had no illusions about the hours involved as I had seen from my friends how much outside of school hours work is required.

                  I decided that before I applied to uni I need to test drive the job and when I was offered a job as a classroom assistant at a large local high school-I accepted.
                  I absolutely loved the job itself. I worked with years 7,8 and 9 both in small groups and giving one to one support. Yes there were behavour issues, yes there were times I could have happily wrung the necks of certain pupils yet despite been known as "That strict classroom assistant" I had a good rapport with many of the kids and they would come to me outside of lesson times for advice or support too. The buzz when you'd see a kid who struggled finally "get" a concept they had struggled with or get a better mark than they'd previously got was honestly great and made up for all the frustrations of the times they didn't or the kids who simply didn't want to even try.Although it was a challenging school the discipline side didn't worry me-yes it wasn't always easy -but in time you earn the respect of the kids and once they realize you aren't a pushover most are no issue. I think I had to raise my voice ONCE in the year- the "look" was far more effective !! :)

                  The other teachers...... I worked with some absolutely brilliant teachers -dedicated, interested in the kids who really made a difference-and some right wastes of space who were either burned out, worked only for the holidays or went into teaching for all the wrong reasons. No particular age group fell into one category some had taught all their working lives, some were straight from uni and others had entered teaching as their second career-good and bad in all.

                  So I completed a year.......had the offer of a training place.....had funding-but then didn't proceed. The reason-schools aren't run for what is best for the children, they are run as businesses-meeting targets, quotas etc-even when these directly conflict with what is best educationally and emotionally for the students. In the end it would have driven me crazy to not be able to do the best job I possibly could. I have the greatest of respect for those who teach for the right reasons and work endlessly for what is best for their students within a flawed system.

                  I still do a little invigilating exams in school and whenever I do I remember all the good reasons for teaching and feel a pang of regret but ultimately I know teaching would have broken my heart.

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                    18.01.2009 13:28
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                    A great profession but see the reality before you join it!

                    I have been a secondary English teacher for over 5 years now and it really has been a rollercoaster of emotions- I always say that it can be the best job in the world and the worst job in the world all in one day!

                    I will start with the positives. Firstly coming from a call centre job, which really wasn't for me, I really love the fact that I am never bored. Each day brings a new challenge and my students look at the same novels/poems/plays etc in new and different ways. I love teaching my subject and feel it is so important as I get to have some really fantastic discussions with young people about issues that really matter to me and to them. I love the opportunities outside the classroom too like running clubs and school trips.

                    For me though the best part of the job is those moments when you realise that you have had an impact on someone's life. When you have helped a student acheive the grade they need for college or when a student tells you they enjoyed the lesson or says thank you ( it doesn't happen all the time to me but those little moments really make it worth while). For example one such moment was when one of my really hardworking students, who struggled with English, achieved a C grade when his target grade was an E. I had taught him for four years and I was so proud of him knowing how hard he worked to get it and it was great to know I helped him get his place in college.

                    I also enjoy the fact that in many respects you organise your own time as a teacher and the hours can be flexible in terms of leaving after 3.30pm if you have an appointment or something. Of course the long holidays help too and the pay is ok. There are also a lot of opportunites for progression- I now have two extra responsibilites.

                    On to the negatives. Firstly I work very long hours- I am often at school until half six/seven o clock completing work ( some of this is from my extra responsibilites though). As an English teacher I have an incredible amount of marking to do and around mock exam time it is really really stressful. I also often work at the weekends and always work through some of my holdiays planning etc. Moreover there are so many demands on teachers from senior management and the government- we are always being expected to do something new and yet not given the time to do it.

                    Secondly and this is the worst thing for me I find that the rudeness and bad attitudes of some (and unfortunatley its quite a considerable number) students really gets me down. Even after five years I find it hard to just pass this of as part of the job and it still really gets to me. You really have to work on your behaviour management skills in order to succeed in the classroom. The worst part of this aspect is not wanting to let the good kids down and so to do that I have to try to be really strict and consistent which is an ongoing battle.

                    If you are thinking of becomng a teacher I would advise anyone to do some work experience in a school to really see what the reality is like. I started teaching at quite a young age and yet I still thought things had really changed since my own school days.

                    Overall though, although I complain about some aspects, I do love my job and the precious little moments make it worth it for me. Don't know if I'll still being saying the same in ten years time though!

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                      27.12.2008 14:44
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                      Only do it if you're as tough as nails

                      Well, I'm afraid I am going to write a more negative review than the previous 2.

                      Becoming a teacher has always been something I wanted to do from as far as I can remember.

                      Because I love languages I thought it made sense to become a languages teacher. In a secondary school.

                      After working a bit in translation I went back to uni to do a PGCE (post graduate certificate in education).
                      That alone was extremely hard and demanding. I'd often go to bed at 12am/1am to finish planning lessons and making impressive resources to impress my mentors in order to pass.

                      It worked.

                      Then I found a job fairly easily in a decent school. Teaching is very time-consuming. I would get to work for 7.30am and not leave before 5.30pm (school ended at 2.30pm) and I would still have marking and more planning/resource making to do at home in the evening. Some days I couldn't face it or was too tired.
                      I never managed to fully enjoy my free time at weekends and on holiday as I always had marking and planning on my mind.

                      Yes, as a teacher you do get a great deal of holidays but if you're a conscientious teacher, chances are you will spend half of your free time working.

                      I ended up having virtually no social life and only my teacher friends could understand what I was going through.

                      I changed school to move back up North and ended up in an average school. The behaviour was shocking, the discipline nearly non-existent. It's as if the senior team had given up on school rules.

                      When you're in such a school and you're a young woman, you've got no chance.
                      On top of the heavy workload, I ended up chasing up pupils who failed to attend detentions (nearly all of them).
                      The senior team didn't care enough. I could have hit my head against a wall, they wouldn't have done anything.

                      As you may have gathered, I am no longer a teacher.

                      When I was, I was grateful for the good pay and the holidays but after 5 years of teaching, I was going down a dangerous road called depression and decided it was time for me to quit.

                      I now earn less but I feel more in control and I've got my self-respect back.

                      Only go into (secondary school) teaching if you have nerves of steel.

                      I really admire those of you who can stick at it.

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                        23.10.2008 09:59
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                        A great career change option.

                        When I tell people that I'm a teacher they immediately start commenting on the long holidays and how it is a part time job, all they want to talk about is the six week holidays and I do love to show up their complete ignorance of the profession and all it has to offer. Now I know the comments section will probably be filled with the usual Muppets harping on about long holidays, encouraging plagiarism amongst students and those that teach cannot do sort of one liners well lets deal with those first. Also if Frankie Boyle is on Dooyoo he will probably make some comment about PE teachers all being sex offenders which is the line we most quote in the staff room to the PE department. It is not plagiarism it is ethical recycling, to really be able to teach something you must have experience of it and finally my summer holidays are not six weeks long in fact they are eight weeks so just reflect on that as you plan your two week cattle class holiday to Benidorm with all the other wage slaves while I will be trekking in the Andes for four weeks.

                        Teaching was not my first career; I switched to teaching three years ago after sixteen years of working in banking. I now teach Economics and Business Studies in an independent day school to sixth formers so it should be noted that my current working environment is somewhat different to a large number of teachers who work in the state sector although the skills I use and the day to day issues are no different to most of my colleagues who I trained with and who are now employed across a range of schools. During my training I worked in two state schools, one would be described as "challenging" which translates as meaning kids who have behaviour problems and you can expect to have to deal with violent behaviour and one that was well run and reasonably successful academically.

                        My switch to teaching was partly forced in the sense that without a very generous redundancy package I probably would never have done it as I would not have been prepared to fund the costs and take the hit in my wage packet as effectively I took a 50% pay cut to move into teaching. Even now three years in to the change the redundancy pay out is still being used to subsidise the reduction in earnings.

                        The training to be a secondary school teacher takes a year and there are three options that you can follow and all will lead to you getting a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. You can be employed directly at a Graduate Teacher by a school, they will pay you a wage and train you throughout the year, and you would also expect to complete your Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year there as well. Alternatively you can complete a school based programme (SKITT) where a group of schools combine together to offer a programme and you will spend the entire time at these schools with the odd day or week release to attend University lectures. Finally you can complete a PGCE through a University which was the option I pursued, spending some time in lectures and then two teaching blocks where you worked in a school. The last two options will both see you classified as a student rather than employee so you will have to stump up the course fees, mine were £3,000.You do receive a bursary which is non refundable to help with the costs and you have access to the student loans system. Certain subjects attract higher bursaries and certainly when I trained shortage subjects like Maths and the Sciences had a golden handshake payment when you completed your first year in a state school.

                        The entry requirements for most courses are that you must have a relevant degree in the subject your want to teach or considerable working experience may help. You will need GCSE Maths, English and a Science and naturally all the police checks will be taken. When you have completed your PGCE course you must then complete a full year as a NQT in a school and they must sign you off as being competent. Then you formally enter the profession as a qualified teacher. Strangely this would then enable you to teach any subject not just the one you trained in and some of my colleagues who I trained with are now teaching ICT and maths as part of their timetable. For more info read my review on teacher training.

                        So why would I recommend a career as a teacher, well first off I really enjoy my work for 90% of the time which is not something I have been able to say about other jobs I have done. I find my job very challenging as you never know what to expect from one lesson to the next. The class of little angels you taught on Monday may by Wednesday period six have turned into sugar fuelled Tasmanian devils intent on mayhem and the possession of your soul. In this job you can rarely sit back and think you have it cracked as something will come up and bite you on the tush. I like the day to day variety; even if I'm teaching the same lesson to two groups of year 12 students I know each lesson will probably be different.

                        Working with young people, especially teenagers who are planning their future careers at university is particularly rewarding, it certainly helps keep me young as you get to stay in touch with the things that are an influence on their lives. It surprises me how keen some students are to share the music that they enjoy and my last two album purchases came from students insisting I listen to something on youtube. I enjoy being part of the school community outside of the classroom, I have a small tutor group, I coach hockey and run the Young Enterprise programme, in January I will be taking a group of students to Paris for a conference and in the summer we are off to Venezuela on World Challenge for four weeks.

                        The downside to teaching is probably two fold for me. The first is the fact that the pay is not great, particularly if you are career switching however straight from university the starting salary is competitive. On the plus side with the salary the progression in the early years is pretty good as it is structured however once you reach the top of the pay scale for a teacher then if you do not take on extra responsibilities then the pay rises in the future will struggle to match inflation. Working in the independent sector usually brings slightly higher pay but less job security especially in an economic downturn like we have at present. Also in teaching there are great career opportunities and the chance for progression is always there, in their second year of teaching two of my colleagues have acting heads of department posts which will probably become permanent at the end of the year.

                        The second issue for some is the behaviour problems they may encounter, I have worked in a tough school and it was very hard however good schools provide a structure and support to overcome this, each teacher adapts their own technique, mine is quite simple and somewhat traditional old school, with a new class I do not smile for at least the first four weeks and I tend to target in the first lesson anybody who goes and sits at the back and give them a good rollicking the first opportunity I get, zero tolerance is the order of the day and most times that does the job. Naturally with sixth formers it is slightly different but I do set boundaries and expectations very quickly.

                        Interestingly when it comes to job security teaching is seen to be one of the most secure, the TDA who oversee all teacher training have seen a 30% increase in enquiries over the past few months as the recession begins to bite. I guess with birth rates there is at least a continual supply of raw material to work with unlike oil or credit.

                        Teaching is also good for those who want to be able to manage their work life balance as for a start if you have children then most times your holidays will match their school holidays, in fact because I get more holiday than the state sector I'm currently on holiday while they are at school as we get two weeks in October. For me the holidays are a big plus factor, I do work some of the time (yesterday was spent in school lesson planning) but I also use the time to recharge my batteries and catch up on domestic chores. During term time the workload is very heavy and my working day sees me in school at 7.30 and I rarely leave before 18.30 (I also have a one hour commute), I would also reckon to do about three to four hours of work at the weekends, it is hard going and I have no real social life outside of the family however I also know that I'm never more than six weeks away from a holiday plus the fact that effectively my teaching year is compressed into two terms, after Easter most of my students will start study leave for their exams.

                        For me teaching has proven to be a great career, I'm lucky with the school I work at, there are high expectations and a lot of pressure from the parents but then I have high expectations of myself, certainly I believe that I could not do the job if I had not had some industry and life experiences behind me, during term time the workload is more intense than the work I did as a project manager however during the holidays I get to travel and relax. I may never be wealthy as a teacher but I can be comfortable financially and know that I have a pension under written by you the tax payer (thanks for that) however I can be wealthy as measured by the amount of job satisfaction that I get and the fact that Monday morning is now something I look forward to.

                        Thanks for reading and rating my review. Anything I have not covered or any other questions please drop me a line or leave a comment.

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                          08.03.2008 11:55
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                          The best job in the world

                          Before I start - a little warning that this is going to be a long review!
                          BACKGROUND:

                          Teaching wasn't something that I wanted to do. When I was younger I wanted to be a solicitor because that's what my Dad did. When it came to applying for university I really couldn't face the thought of studying law for three years so decided to do my degree in History (my passion in life - no jokes thank you very much!). I always thought that I'd carry on with the law stuff after my degree.
                          However, by the time I was finishing my degree, I'd really gone off the law idea and wanted to carry on being involved in History. I decided to do a Masters while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. My Masters History based but involved a lot of museum studies, included an internship at the British Museum. This inspired me to look for museum jobs but the money was not really good enough. So, four years after leaving school I was very well qualified but with no idea about what I wanted to do!

                          It was a choice between law and teaching. A few people had suggested teaching to me in the past but it was never something that I'd taken too seriously. No one was any help - 'do what you want' - ARGH!!! I phoned my best friend in turmoil and she said that she could really see me as a teacher and thought I would be really good at it. I decided that I would go for it. My decision was based mainly on the fact that I loved History so much and thought it would be great to work around it every day. I also really enjoyed being around children, although it wasn't something I had a lot of experience with.
                          WHICH ROUTE?

                          There are two ways into teaching (technically if you work in a private school you don't have to have done either of these although private schools are becoming much fussier now), these are the PGCE and the GTP. GTP is the Graduate Training Programme. If you take this route, you are based at a school rather than at a university. You do a lot more teaching and you work the whole school year. You are also paid which is a huge bonus - I think its around £12000.
                          A PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education) is the route I decided on. This is university based. You are sent to two different schools during you time there and also have around 12 weeks university time. The government kindly give you £6000 for training - tax free which helps! However, you do have to pay £1800 in fees (its £3000 but the rest gets paid by others - in my case the Welsh Assembly).

                          I chose the PGCE route. I wanted to have the back up of the theory which university gives you and also the support of 16 other people going through the same things at the same time was really reassuring.
                          Also there is the choice between primary and secondary education. I chose secondary for a couple of reasons. I love my subject so couldn't imagine having to teach other things. Also, primary teachers only usually spend a year with their pupils before they move on to another class, and I wanted to be able to follow my pupils through. I'm quite academic so i wanted to be able to work with higher level pupils at A-Level.

                          APPLYING:
                          My main advice would be apply early. To apply for a PGCE you need to go through the GTTR (Graduate Teacher Training Registry) website - http://www.gttr.ac.uk/ On here you can see which universities offer the course you want and which still have places. Its two years since I applied so I will tell you about my experience although it may have changed since.

                          You have to fill in basic details, exam results etc. You also have to fill in a personal statement. Mine consisted of an explanation of my passion for History and why I thought History and teaching in general were important. You also have to put down two referees, one of whom should be an academic. Then you have to choose up to four universities to apply to. It's a good idea to check out their Ofsted ratings first.
                          Then it's a waiting game. Your application only gets sent to one university at a time - in the order you put them. This can mean that by the time you've been rejected from one the others are all full. I had three PGCE interviews and was on the waiting list until June. PGCE courses are really hard to get on to and are hugely over-subscribed - so it is vital to impress on your application form and then at interview. My first interview was a complete disaster but by my third I was more relaxed. Make sure you mug up on current education issues - they will ask you!

                          If you are thinking of applying - make sure that you go and visit a school first and check that you could spend every day in that environment. If you've seen the adverts and are thinking about teaching because they offer you money to train - this is not a reason!!! They say you can get up to £9k to train - this is only if you can teach a shortage subject (like physics) and the golden handshake is only for these lucky people (really wish I'd carried on with physics after A-Level.....!).
                          THE COURSE:

                          I completed my PGCE at the University of the West of England. It's not a year for the feint hearted! It's a lot of hard work. Getting used to writing essays at the same time as marking, planning lessons and writing reports is par for the course.

                          Each course is set up differently. With mine, I was sent to one school from October to December and the second school from January to May. I was then placed in a local museum (if you get sent to a Welsh school you can only stay there a certain number of weeks - even if like me you're actually Welsh - flipping Assembly!). In school you are assigned a mentor - my first one was rubbish and not at all supportive but my second one was amazing. You are given control of a number of classes, the number increases in your second placement.
                          I had to write three essays and give one assessed presentation. These were quite hard work and involved reading a lot of theory.

                          Before my first time in the classroom I was quite nervous - I mean kids can be scary and horrible sometimes - and I'd heard horror stories of experienced teachers being reduced to tears. However, once I was stood in front of the class, that all disappeared - I was running on adrenaline and it felt bloody fantastic! Now this was an achievement for me - when I was a school I used to physically shake if I had to speak in front of the class - but here I was talking to 30 faces who were expecting me to teach them for an hour!
                          So nine months later, I had completed my training and had emerged a qualified teacher. I didn't have too many battle scars and I hadn't been reduced to tears by the little bu**ers (sorry, darlings!). I also had managed to get a job. It was only a maternity cover for a year but it was a a really high achieving school which was what I wanted. I was quite picky on the schools I applied for. I went into teaching to share my love of History, in a word, to teach; not to manage children and hope they didn't throw chairs at me!

                          To pass the course you have to meet the Qualified Teacher Status standards. There are a lot of these but most are really simple to meet. There are ones like 'having respect for the pupils' - which if you don't do anyway then you shouldn't be there in the first place! You also have to pass QTS skills tests, one in English, one in Maths and one in ICT. You can take these as many times as you like while you are training, but have to have them by the end of the year. I passed all mine first time but they can be tricky - especially the maths one where you are up against the clock.
                          THE JOB:

                          So now I've been in my own classroom for six months, how am I finding it? I'm sorry - you didn't put your hand up for that question - no shouting out allowed!! Ok enough teacher jokes (well we don't get out much).
                          Well, I really can't believe that I found this amazing career and that I'm lucky enough to get paid for doing something that I love so much. I wake up in the morning have never had that dread of going to work and I come home and sometimes find myself smiling about my job! Don't get me wrong - its hard work and I get days when I just think I really haven't got the energy, especially for certain classes, but in general it's great.

                          I've got lucky with the school I'm in. My head of department is an amazing and inspirational teacher and person and has helped me well beyond the call of duty. He guides me with what to teach and helps explain marking policies etc. It is so hard to be in a school where those around you aren't supportive and a few of the people who graduated with me have left the profession for this reason which I think is really sad.
                          In general the pupils are great. There is the odd one who is difficult. Some people are told not to smile at the pupils for the first term of teaching - I think this is complete rubbish. I think it's really important to give a little of yourself to these people who are in your care and who are supposed to trust you and learn from you. I chat to my pupils as much as possible - about all sorts of things - and find out about their interests so that I can try to relate to them. I think this is so important and I find that it really gets results. I have only been sworn at once but my school has a good hierarchy of punishment which is usually very effective. I have one class who are my nemesis. I have been on the verge of tears with them but none have actually spilled over yet.

                          One of the best feelings is when you see a pupil finally understand something or when they get a good result. I recently handed out some coursework results and the pupils' faces just beamed! This was with my nemesis class and so I came away with a big smile on my face.
                          Of course, one of the main advantages to teaching is the holidays. I have had some stick from friends about the amount of holidays teachers get but I always come back with the fact that teachers cram 48 weeks of work into 36. I work less than a lot of teachers I know. I think it's vitally important to get the work-life balance write because a tired teacher is not a good idea in front of 30 kids expecting you to perform! I get into work just before 8 and leave around 4.30. I bring marking home sometimes and sometimes have to works weekends. Also, marking takes time because there has to be a comment on pieces of work, along the lines of 'you have done XYZ well and to improve you need to .....'. This is so much better than when I was in school and all I had was a mark out of 10 - which means what exactly in a History classroom? If my school was less well organised then I would have to plan a lot more and create more resources but luckily most of my lessons are already planned by the department (and I've never really been one for lots of planning - even on my PGCE - just don't tell my tutor!). However much planning and marking you do, just standing in front of classes and talking for 5 hours a day really takes it out of you. I often get home and sit in front of the TV because I'm too tired to move! The holidays are absolutely vital to recover some energy! You will find that you spend lots of the holidays with colds which the pupils have kindly donated right at the end of term - bless them.....! It is great to be able to think in July - great, I have the next 6 weeks off and I'm getting paid the same amount each month - woo hoo!

                          Another thing that I spend a lot of time doing is mugging up on certain topics. History is obviously a vast topic and every school seems to teach different things (at the moment I'm learning about Ancient Greek medicine and the First World War!). I'm always improving my own subject knowledge and that's great - it also means I try to stay one step ahead of the kids!
                          Another huge benefit to teaching is the variety. I've worked in other places where it's the same thing day in day out. In teaching no two days are the same. There will always be a new crisis to deal with, or a new achievement to praise.

                          Every teacher has a different teaching style. Mine is quite lively - I think that there is a certain amount of acting involved in keeping children's attention for an hour at a time. I tend to move around quite a lot and put on silly voices and accents. They laugh at me but they remember it. A few weeks ago I was teaching the Reformation and to get them to remember the word Protestants I had some pictures of ants on my PowerPoint, with speech bubbles of them complaining and a sound clip of a mob - get it? Protesting ants??? Well they liked it! I try to be firm but fair in the classroom. When I first started my voice was raised a lot of the time. I now shout rarely - but this is far more effective. Having a strong voice which can cut across a lot of chatter in the room is a really useful tool as a teacher.
                          Of course, teaching is a huge responsibility. You are responsible for the safety of those children while they are in your classroom - and that does sometimes scare me a little. This is intensified on school trips. I read a lot in the press about how many teachers are now too afraid to take trips out of school but I really hope I never feel like this. I think that trips are vital for developing pupils' understanding and enjoyment - I bet that when you think back to your school days you'll remember a trip but very few will remember an individual lesson. I'm in the middle of planning a trip at the moment (the first that I've planned and not just attached myself to!). I'm not really worried but I think on the actual day I will be relieved when we're all back at school safely!

                          There is a lot in the papers about teachers going off the profession because of all the red tape. There is a lot sometimes but I think it's worth it. These days you have to be very careful about what you say and do around pupils. You can't touch a pupil - which is of course correct but I find that if a pupil is upset then I will put a hand on a shoulder (I work in an all girls school so this makes this easier).
                          You also have to remember as a teacher that you are not just there to impart knowledge. Most teachers are also involved in the pastoral side of the job. This involves being a tutor or being a head of year etc. Sometimes in this role pupils tell you things that they wouldn't normally divulge. It is important to remember that you are there to protect children and anything they tell you that could indicate abuse needs to be reported immediately. You also need to tell them before they speak to you that you can't keep anything to yourself - it will have to be passed on to the relevant people. I haven't had any disclosures made to me although I have dealt with child protection issues through other means.

                          So, how much do you get paid for giving up your social life for 36 weeks a year? Well, realistically not nearly enough for the hours but it's not so bad. A teacher's starting salary is around £20000 at the moment, although it goes up every year. Your salary rises automatically every year and when you are given extra responsibilities you get a higher salary as well. Those working in or near London get more money.
                          CONCLUSION:

                          As you've probably guessed - I really love teaching. I definitely made the right career choice and really can't imagine doing anything else. The interaction with the pupils is so amazingly rewarding. The training was hard work but well worth it and the pay isn't bad. Also, that many holidays had to be a good thing right!!!! In all seriousness though, this job really is one of the best in the world. It's all about job satisfaction. I hear my friends (mainly accountants - so no offence to the accountants out there!) talk about the great salaries they get but then say how dull their work is and how uninspired they are. Well I may not have as much money as them - but teaching is definitely not a job where you will be left uninspired.
                          Thank you for reading (and sorry it was so long!!)

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