Thinking Of Teaching? Read This First

There’s a whole forum on the TES website dedicated to those who are thinking about teaching. I’ve seen recently several different posters using this forum to warn people off the profession. I can see that it’s working as well – some potential teachers end up posting themselves that this has really made them think twice, and ask the question, “Is it all true?”

I’m also never sure myself whether the work I do here is intended to drive potential teachers away into something better or not. I certainly wish I had been warned off it myself, but instead I was encouraged strongly to try it. I think partly that everyone has to make their own decision, and make their own mistakes. You don’t know for sure unless you try it.

Nevertheless, I’m about to give you my own reasons for not trying teaching in the first place, and yes, they are all completely true.

It’s highly likely you are going to get bullied, usually during your training stage of PGCE and NQT year. There are lots of cries for help happening constantly from student teachers on placements where their mentors have clearly got it in for them and are offering little support, and unfortunately, there’s little to protect you from that sort of behaviour at that stage.

Similarly many NQTs end up failing their 1st and 2nd assessments through members of staff who are supposed to be mentoring, training and supporting them instead taking a personal dislike to them and destroying their future careers instead. Some teachers have long successful careers, only to be bullied out when they become too expensive.

Why does it happen so often? I’ve got many theories on that, but in short, it’s because in teaching, it’s either bully or be bullied, and there’s nothing in place to stop that culture. You might be lucky and not experience this sort of treatment. Do you really want to risk it?

No jobs
There are no teaching jobs, same as there are no jobs in any other industry. There is a backlog of a few years worth of teaching graduates now who haven’t secured their first post, so the competition just gets tougher every year. Similarly, there’s no supply now either to keep you going until you do find your first job, because it’s all covered in house.

Teaching is not rife with opportunity at all, despite being advertised to be that way. In an environment like that, it’s more likely you’re going to accept a job that’s not right for you, leaving yourself even more open to something going wrong.

Are you prepared to work up to 70 hours a week for the salary that teachers get? Did you know that those half terms and easter holidays will also be taken up with planning, preparation and assessment? This is just during normal operation as well, if your school gets inspected, or gets put into special measures, or moves site then this workload will only increase.

You can earn a lot more money doing a lot less work somewhere else. I know you probably have a lofty ideal in that you don’t mind because you will love the job so much, but this will go out of the window very quickly. How do you know you will love the job anyway? In my opinion, no one loves a job that much that they will accept ridiculously high workloads for a relatively low pay. If they do, then it’s not really work.

A lot of people are attracted to teaching because it’s seen as a wholesome career where you will be acting with integrity most of the time. Not so. Most teachers only survive the punishing workload by making it look like they are doing it all, when in reality they are cutting corners in imperceptible places just so they can go to sleep at night. The real skill in teaching is finding corners where no one will notice a cut.

Also, you will need to pay lip service to a great many pseudo-scientific pedagogical theories which will come in a constant new stream all the time. You will need to make your teaching look like it is using these, and other Ofsted approved ways of teaching when someone is looking. Then when they’ve all gone, you can get on with the methods that actually get the students to learn.

Are you really prepared to live a double life like that? And just in case the answer is yes, you would be much better suited to working in politics.

Do you wish you had been warned about the reality of teaching? Have you got any warnings for potential teachers? If there’s something you’d like to share, but not in public, please email me.

Related post: Things I Wish Were On My PGCE But Weren't


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