Would you recommend teaching to a friend? A family member? Your partner?
I read a post from someone looking to get into teaching on Twitter last week. They wanted to know if it was worth all the financial and time commitments of training. The fifteen or so replies sounded like a resounding yes, they spoke about the job being fun, rewarding and exciting – which it can be.
However, the overwhelmingly positive nature of these replies concerned me.
Teaching was totally the right thing for me, I enjoy my job. But it’s not everyone and any recommendation needs to come with a health warning. Teaching is hard, it’s tiring, it’s all consuming, it’s frustrating and it some days it can feel futile – and that’s working as an experienced teacher.
In short, it’s not a normal job. Of course, the long holidays are great, but you’ll work your evenings weekends and sometimes mornings too. Circumstances mean that regardless of how hard you work, things will never be perfect.
You’ll get used to eating dinner over your laptop in the evening, you won’t see your friends or family as much as you used to. Your hobbies will suffer. Your health may even suffer when the late nights and early mornings influence your diet and exercise decisions.
This is one of the reasons there are a vast number of qualified teachers in the UK who don’t teach anymore (I’ve just written my dissertation on this topic). Many of these leave in the first five years, and that doesn’t even count those who don’t complete the training year.
Coming on to the training year, I honestly think it was the hardest I have ever worked in my entire life. I was lucky, I had a sustainable side income, no children and was placed twenty minutes from home in a supportive school where I still work. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to commute for hours to work in a tough, isolating school, as many people do. Then there are the essays to complete, uni days, research projects as well as learning how to plan lessons, manage a classroom and update your subject knowledge.
Would I encourage someone to go into teaching? Yes of course.
But it’s so much more than a handful of comments on social media, a glossy TV ad promising you xx-thousand-a-year just to train or the want to just try something new.
What I’m saying is, make yourself aware of what you’re getting into. Talk to someone who has done it for years, visit some schools, read some of the hundreds of books about teaching.
It’s an expensive and difficult journey, so make sure it’s one that you really want.
Teaching can be frustrating, debilitating and the most tiring experience I’ve ever had but it’s inspiring, rewarding, NEVER boring and you’ll work as part of a team to totally do something great.
Teachers, what do you think, would you recommend teaching?