No matter how many Sue Cowley books you read before becoming a teacher, be it ‘Getting the buggers to behave’ or ‘How to survive your first year in teaching’, they may offer some answers but nothing will prepare you more than actually standing in front of 30 pupils and teaching a lesson!
We asked our newest consultant Xen; a former teacher, 5 things he wished he knew before stepping into the lion’s den that is, a secondary school classroom.
195 teaching days and 170 days off! Happy days no? The myth that teachers spend almost half a year on holiday is one that gets yelled about by other working sectors on a daily basis. Yes there are half terms and summer holidays but it doesn’t mean we all just fly off to Tenerife for a week or two and relax. As a teacher you just can’t switch off, it’s not possible. Your mind is always working on overdrive and sleeping at night isn’t easy when all you can think about is the next day’s teaching of 180 pupils.
2) Paper work is overpowering
“Teachers have it easy, they stroll in at 8am, get to finish and relax when the kids leave at 3!” A typical assessment of what a teacher’s life is like, how wrong. Ok the pupils may leave at 3 or 3.30, but teachers don’t get out, or the good ones don’t, till at least 5, 5.30 if you’re lucky. Why you ask? Paper work, planning or evaluating your last lesson, reviewing schemes of work, oh and don’t forget, the good old favourite, reports, reports, reports.
3) People don’t hold your hand
Sink or swim I guess! Schools are big places, 1000+ pupils, up 80 odd members of staff, you can’t be catered for 24/7 as an NQT, you have to learn quickly and be able to stand on your own two feet because if you don’t those 1000+ pupils can easily chew you up quicker than you can say Haribos Starmix.
4) Relationships with Pupils
Without realising it, you become attached to those you teach, you see them for 5 days a week, nearly 8 hours a day, possibly sometimes more than their parents do. You start to build bonds and a trust that can last years through their 7 year school life. You see them grow and you can’t help but be a major part of their lives through the teenage years.
5) Rewarding Aspects
“It’s one of the most rewarding jobs out there” – for me, it does exactly what is says on the tin. I loved every minute of it, and you really do have a great overall experience if you work with great colleagues who act as crazy as you. What you get out of teaching is what you put in, and the same applies to pupils, if you show them that they can be amazing at anything and guide them to achieve it, they’ll show you the enthusiasm, talent and motivation you’re after.
Overall my time as a teacher was one of the most enjoyable and fun experiences I’ve had. The lessons I learnt are invaluable and have allowed me to stay within the education sector as a recruiter. The knowledge and skills I developed over my 7 years as a teacher have enabled me to have a balanced and professional view when it comes to placing graduates and teachers into schools. Without having been a teacher I wouldn’t be where I am today.
February 28, 2017