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Why teaching is the best job I’ve ever had…

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teaching secondary school

Carol Jones, a Specialist for Leadership and Teacher Professionalism at ASCL explains why teaching is the best job she’s ever had…

I’m not the only teacher or school leader who’s had a variety of careers both in and out of education who always chooses to come back home to teaching. Why? Well, what other career gives you an opportunity to teach a subject that you loved as a graduate and has such an enormous impact on the lives of so many others?

Why I love teaching

Teaching is humbling work. Every day you see the effect of your own creativity, work with and teach a wonderfully diverse array of people and personalities and, more often than not, learn something new every day.

Through all those myriad of interactions with so many people you continually develop as an individual and gain confidence and pride in what you and your students achieve. This brings to mind those examination results days and the excitement of success for your students (as well as you!), innovative school productions and the community spirit that becomes so visible on those annual sports days.

And then there’s the humour. There are days when you will laugh with your students and colleagues about all sorts of things that happen in every school, every day. There’s the camaraderie, the team work, the social life that you build with colleagues and the sheer joy of seeing your students gain insight through those ‘lightbulb moments.’

Supply and demand

So why are we once again struggling with teacher supply? Many people remember the 1990s government advertising campaign, arising from a teacher shortage, with the powerful strap-line “everyone remembers a good teacher”.

The campaign was effective in recruiting an enormous number of teachers who all wanted to be part of a change movement to improve the lives of young people. This, along with a revised career ladder, good remuneration and secure prospects led to teaching becoming a popular career for graduates.

But now we are seeing population demographics and the impact of a changing economy affect teacher supply across the country.

How to become a teacher

We are fortunate to now have several routes into teaching which make it possible for graduates to find an entry point best suited to them. The DfE website, ‘Get into Teaching‘ provides clear guidance about the options available to graduates and career changers, but those looking for additional clarity should refer to the ‘ASCL Routes into Teaching’ map, which has been created by the Association of School and College Leaders to simplify the options that are available to would-be trainees.

With so many routes into teaching available it is important to take time to consider each training route in turn. With options to train directly in school – such as through SCITT, Teaching School Alliance and School Direct – you can benefit from an ‘on the job’ approach, with support from a higher education training provider.

You might feel more comfortable taking a PGCE – the university route – spending more time in higher education with set work placement opportunities integral to the training programme. All routes provide both pedagogical theory, training in the teaching of subject knowledge and school based practice, so it really does come down to simply finding the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

Whichever route you choose, know that you are coming in to an exciting, unique and fast paced career, which has so much potential to positively impact on the lives of young people. Then, when you’ve qualified, you’ll know that if you ever decide to take a break or try something new, there will always be a home for you back in teaching…the best job that there is.

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