Is secondary level teaching for you? Get an insight to help you decide
I loved school and wanted to teach from childhood. I have always been in contact with education through my own experiences and from helping at my children’s schools, both at primary and secondary levels. I enjoy being in the school environment. It was only through personal circumstances, a move to South Africa and the arrival of my children, that delayed the start of my teaching career.
I wanted to teach a specific subject and although I had a degree in modern languages, and had taught evening classes in German, an interest in English prompted me to do an OU degree. I really enjoyed that subject so decided to teach it.
I had done some administration work and taught evening classes. They both gave me experience of working with others, which is crucial in a busy school with a wide range of staff.
I did a PGCE course which prepared me very well, although it was very hard work. I liked being a student again and appreciated the support you get while on placement. It felt like a gradual introduction to the job.
I have been a teacher of English for two years.
Patience is what I have had to learn the most, and a sense of humour really does help get you through the day. The ability to inspire and make a connection with the students by relating the subject to real life and making it relevant to their experiences is really important.
The spirit of the department and the comradeship between teachers is very satisfying. As a new teacher I have appreciated the practical, down-to-earth advice I have had from others; resources, using people as sounding boards, and support in terms of prioritising and being realistic.
The enthusiasm of the younger students (Year 7) is very satisfying when you see them appreciate and enjoy books. From a language aspect they often realise that they can achieve more than they originally thought. GCSE syllabuses can be restricting; poetry isn't always popular, but it can touch the pupils and it's great to see a reaction when they suddenly become animated - even the most truculent ones!!
The downside can be dealing with behaviour issues and there are always so many things to juggle. It can also be difficult to switch off and take account of your work–life balance.
I haven't really thought about promotion at the moment, I'm still getting to grips with being a good teacher, maybe two or three years down the line...