Teaching is a brilliant profession to get into. Yes, you did read that correctly. It does actually say that teaching IS a brilliant profession to get into.
And, unless you’ve existed in some sort of self-imposed media-free black hole in the last 5 or so years, a claim that teaching is a brilliant profession to get into might come as a big surprise. It certainly goes against the grain. After all, you don’t have to search too hard these days to find reports of disillusioned teachers leaving the profession in their droves, or find statistics to show that recruitment targets have once again not been reached.
The average school staff room is not the happiest place to be right now and teachers are not a bunch of ‘happy campers.’ It would be ridiculous to suggest otherwise. However, this does not mean that teaching isn’t still a brilliant profession to get into.
So, why is this the case?
It’s not for the salary
Okay, so you WON’T be earning £65k a year – let’s clear that one up straightaway.
There has been an increasingly desperate tone to the Department for Education’s recruitment drives over the last few years. Last autumn’s campaign, provoked a stronger reaction than most from practising teachers though. In fact, it caused a great deal of ridicule, derision and anger.
As if the lazy hashtag #teachersmake wasn’t bad enough, the DfE’s advertising campaign proceeded to claim that one of the things teachers could actually make was ‘up to £65k as a great teacher.’
Complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority that the claim misrepresented a teacher’s potential earnings. Perhaps surprisingly, in March this year, the complaint to the ASA was rejected. But statistically just 1 in every 1000 classroom teachers actually earn that salary (and you’ll need to be working in inner London to stand any chance of that 1 in a 1000 being you).
It’s not for the holidays
And, it’s for the holidays either.
13 weeks holiday a year sounds fantastic. But, as anybody who is a teacher or knows a teacher is well aware, the reality of it all is something else altogether. Of course, compared to most people, 13 weeks holiday is a lot and don’t expect any sympathy from your friends working in the private sector about it.
However, typically the half-term holidays amount to a couple of days rest at best for most. You might get a week at Easter which is work-free, but the rest of the time will be spent frantically catching up with marking, planning for the next term or simply recovering as you lie in a state of complete exhaustion following the exertions of the previous term.
The summer break is the only shining light. It’s true, there are few other professions where you can take 3 or 4 weeks off to whisk yourself away to the other side of the world, if you so wish. But, this is tempered by the prices you pay. As you have to take your holidays in the school holidays (obviously) you will be fleeced by travel companies.
No, if you get into teaching for the salary, the holidays or any sort of reasonable work/life balance then you’ll be disappointed. In fact, you’d be a complete idiot!
I’m not selling this very well, am I?
Teaching is brilliant because…its teaching
It is vital that you go into teaching with your eyes wide open. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be anything else than extremely hard work. It will be stressful, It will seem like it’s taking over your life at times, but it is still brilliant to get into.
A love of your subject is a must. You won’t be able to inspire others to love, or even like, your subject if you are not passionate about it yourself. You will need to be tough. You will need a thick skin and you will need to be able to erase everything else from your mind and never lose sight of the reason you are there.
The reason you are there is your students. You are doing it all for them.
Teaching offers variety that you don’t get with many professions. At the risk of sounding like a terrible DfE advert: no two days are the same and those ‘light bulb’ moments when your pupils really ‘get it’ are hard to beat.
There is no greater privilege than seeing the young people in your care succeed. It’s obviously great when this translates into excellent examination results, but it’s about much more than that: the PE teacher who inspires somebody to take up sport; the Performing Arts teacher who provides the experience of being involved in a school production, or the tutor seeing their form through from Year 7 to Year 11. Those things are magical.
Having the opportunity to help shape young people’s lives for the better, even in a small way, cannot be beaten.
It is hard to hold onto such thoughts when OFSTED are calling and they are easily lost in the day-to-day pressures of the job.
But they are something special.
And that’s why teaching is still a brilliant profession to get into.