All new entrants to UK teaching will find it challenging somewhat or hate it, although for some people a school teacher role is not a persons calling. Initial teacher training is something new to all who start and complete the full academic year.
Changing career or just out of education deciding you would like to teach means taking a new direction without any experience.
I changed career to teaching doing something different and I realised all paperwork, educational learning was no problem, although I wasn’t a natural teaching 11-18 year olds in a secondary comprehensive UK school environment.
Looking back part of my dislike for teaching school children in UK was down to my own personality and high standards. The way some pupils acted and various pieces of school politics wasn’t for me to be associated with.
You may have transferable skills suitable for teaching, although you’ll never now if you’re going to be a good effective teacher until all goes well standing in front of a class of school students.
Dealing with anxiety as there’s so many uncertainties starting as a trainee teacher, stress, step learning curve and the sheer amount of work involved takes planning, motivation and determination to succeed.
My PGCE training year went smoothly and I didn’t find it difficult, just kept on top of a lot of paperwork as a portfolio of evidence to pass the course was the key for my success.
Teaching multiple subjects
As a full time school teacher I was contracted to teach a certain amount of hours per week/month and be available for cover.
Once fully qualified one year I was given business & information technology timetabled classes to teach. I knew next to nothing about teaching IT with one year 9 class I required to ask a pupil in the class how to do what I was supposed to teach to a class of 28 pupils.
As always I was straight up honest with the class if I required someone to show me how to draw a design or code on a computer then I would explain it to the class. I was the teacher supposed to teach a class and be very knowledgeable. The school should have given me another subject more suitable to teach as there was other classes that required a teacher.
Teaching business & economics at a school means you teach 14-18 year old students. As it’s a chosen option towards GCSE, AS & A level you get pupils more interested in the subject. For a specialist teacher it could mean from 40%-50% of timetable then teach another subject.
When I finally decided I dislike teaching children in UK schools was one full year I was timetable to teach:
- 1 class of business
- 2 economics classes
- 1 English year 8 group (12-13 years old)
- 1 mathematics year 8 group (12-13 years old) Same class as English
- 1 mathematics year 7 group (11-12 years old)
I required planning lessons each week for 4 subjects in 3 different departments which took time. School expectations of all teachers were that you are knowledgably and teach to a good standard the same level as other teachers in the department.
School teachers received 2 official department observations each year stated by the school. Not for me, as I required to receive 2 observations from each department that I was teaching in, meaning 6 in total in one year when all other teachers receives just 2.
Challenges of a school teacher
No matter how good you are or how long you’ve been teaching more than one challenge arises each year. Every few years the education department changes the curriculum so teachers require upgrading or changing worksheets, notes and teaching methods for certain topics.
Struggles: Teaching multiple subjects from maths, English and business & economics each week was a struggle to come up with engaging lesson plans to teach subject topics that wasn’t my specialist area of teaching. At times it was a losing battles trying to please students in my classes, and especially heads of department.
Amount of administration: Is it just me, possibly not, but the amount of record keeping, marking, grading and school reports is constant and additional admin gets add each year. I wasn’t overwhelmed by workload of a teacher as I completed all work first before rest.
Interference: School teaching is always in the spotlight from the education department, parents & government. So-called celebrities or important people that have a great idea stating “I would like to get this into school teaching”. Question for those people: How much spare time do teachers have in the timetable each day, week and year?
Forum tutor issues: As a tutor for a year group I was responsible for checking attendance, answering questions and passing on daily information.
I hate teaching when the school blames me (The tutor) or plays piggy in the middle when a pupil turns up to school with a cost or shoes no authorised school uniform. All I can do as a teacher is inform the student of the school dress code and write and note to take home.
When I was a year 7 tutor to 11-12 year olds one pupil was a career to his sick mother and would occasionally turn up 10-15 minutes late to school in the morning. Every time he turned up late he was told to get out of bed earlier by the school management totally ignoring his caring responsibilities to his mother.
School environment: Teachers are open to accusations from students if you’re not liked enough. I followed & enforced rules and kept my distance always from students anytime around school and didn’t receive any complaint.
Behaviour in general has got worse school wide from my observations with certain students that couldn’t care or less or acting extremely juvenile.
Teacher work & life balance
Deciding to be a UK school teacher also has its drawbacks with work and personal life balance as teaching can engulf you’re is life during term time.
I was keeping up with my specialist subject changes with business & economics, curriculum and all teacher duties that are involved as a full time teacher.
Taking 2 sets of pupil’s exercise books home to mark in evenings as well as lesson planning & worksheet creation consumed a lot of evening and part of the weekends.
I finally moved abroad to teach in Kuwait and Qatar at private international schools and life become easier with much less admin to complete compared to teaching in UK.
Now in my late 50s my life has taken a different direction away from classroom teaching.