Common Misconceptions About Teaching - And Why They're Often Wrong!
Jo Holland is an Employer Engagement Manager with the Transition to Teach programme and works closely with employers across all sectors to support their employees into teaching. She has worked in employer engagement for over 25 years, across a number of education, employment and recruitment programmes. Here, Jo discusses common misconceptions that may prevent career changers from entering the teaching profession.
As someone who has supported many people into work, both as a recruiter and an employment specialist, I am here to tell you that you absolutely can teach! That fact that you’re here, reading this, already shows that you have an interest, however it’s understandable that you may also have some worries or concerns. I’d like to take you through some common concerns and show you how these can, in fact, often be misconceptions.
“My career is nothing like teaching.”
You may not have worked in a classroom, but I’d encourage you to look at what you have already achieved in both your work and personal life, and the transferrable skills, experience and qualities you have picked up along the way.
Have you managed people, or a situation? Have you organised and prioritised work? Do you have children of your own, or within the family? Have you presented ideas to others in an interesting way? Have you ever looked at something you have done and asked how you could have done it better? Do you have a sense of humour? Has your resilience helped you through a difficult time? Do you enjoy learning? The list is endless, but the chances are that you will have so many skills, experiences and qualities that you can bring to a classroom.
Having worked in a completely different sector or industry prior to teaching can actually be a huge benefit in the classroom. Just think of the stories you can tell and how you can relate your experiences to things you learned at school. As your students start to navigate real life and all that it brings, you can play an important part in shaping the futures of these young individuals.
“My qualifications are too old, or not quite right.”
In order to teach, you will need a degree and a GCSE/O’ Level in maths and English (plus science if you’d like to teach at primary level). Don’t worry if your degree is not in quite the right subject. Training providers can often take into consideration your A’ Levels and/or your work experience.
Don’t worry if it’s been a few years since you completed your degree. Once you have been offered a place on an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course, you will often be given the opportunity to complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course, which will help you refresh your knowledge and skills in line with the current curriculum. It will also start you off with some tips on teaching and you will even get paid £200 per week for completing it. Even if you don’t get asked to complete a SKE, you will be given a reading list and of course, we will be on hand to offer guidance and support.
“How will I cope with all those children at once – especially if they misbehave?”
Think of all the times you have had to interact with people at work, sometimes challenging ideas or opinions and at other times working together to get a job done. Additionally, think of your personal life and the different challenges you have faced that have required you to speak out for someone else, or on your own behalf. You have a great head-start and you’ll also be taught different strategies to manage classes and behaviour. Schools often have very detailed policies and procedures in place to support teachers in knowing how to respond to challenging situations.
Often, working with the individual characters and personalities in each class is what makes the job so interesting and rewarding. There will be laughter, frustration, pride and even some tears along the way but you will not be alone.
“I can’t afford to take a year out to retrain.”
Many of the secondary subjects offer tax-free bursaries paid in installments throughout your training. You can also apply for student and maintenance loans and, dependent on your individual circumstances, there are grants to help with childcare, disabilities, or other responsibilities. In some cases, you may be eligible for a scholarship, so it is worth taking the time to research what financial support is available for you.
“It’s too late to change careers now.”
It really isn’t! With age comes experience, knowledge and wisdom and Transition to Teach is proud to help career changers of all ages explore and access teaching as an alternative career.
Are you interested in training to teach? Transition to Teach is a government-funded programme offering free support and advice for those who are facing redundancy and may be interested in teaching. For more information, simply express your interest at https://www.transitiontoteach.co.uk/expression-of-interest/.