Born to teach? The why, who and what of teaching

Ahead of our Teaching & Education Fair on Monday 25 February let’s take a quick look at what is involved in a career in education, from why people do it to how to get started on your teaching career.

Whether you are studying your BA QTS, your PGCE/PGDE, or a non-teaching degree, if you are considering a career in education then this (and the fair!) is for you.

Why teach anyway?

Yeats wrote ‘Education is more than the filing of a pail, it is the lighting of a fire’. Indeed the desire to inspire others is often cited as the main reason for following a career in teaching.

Without inspirational teachers we might never (arguably) have had the poetry of Maya Angelou or Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’.

Other reasons given for pursuing a teaching career range from wanting to make a difference to the lives of pupils from all walks of life, to seeing that lightbulb moment in a pupil’s eyes, or for the sheer love of a particular subject.

Perhaps you have always felt you were born to teach, or your desire to teach has been a slow burn. Whatever your motivation, you need to be clear on what that is as you will need to be able to tap into that motivation as you embark on what is undoubtedly a rewarding yet challenging career.

Who do you want to teach?

The concept of lifelong leaning means that there are many opportunities to be an educator, outside of the traditional primary or secondary teacher that most people think of when they think of ‘teaching’.

You may want to help refugees settle in to the UK by teaching English and other necessary skills; to help offenders to learn valuable skills whilst in custody to help them reintegrate after their sentence; or use teaching as a way to travel and see the world. You might want to pursue a career related to educating others but don’t fancy standing in front of a class of students, such as teaching assistant, SEND coordinator, schools liaison officer in a museum…the list is endless.

Even amongst the more ‘traditional’ routes the focus can be varied. You may be drawn to teaching young people with particular needs, or drawn to an alternative style of education (e.g. Montessori, Human Scale) that aligns with your personal beliefs.

As you can see, there are many ways to be an educator to suit your interests, personality and career plan.

What is the current teaching landscape?

It would be remiss of a blog that discusses teaching to ignore the elephant in the room. Teaching is not for the faint-hearted so let’s not pretend that this is an easy job.  We hear on an almost daily basis in the media about the drop out rate, with newly qualified teachers pointing to workload, Ofsted inspections and pupil behaviour as key factors in feeling compelled to leave the profession.

What is clear, is that when teachers are able to have headspace and freedom of creativity, as evidenced when Andria Zafirakou won the 2018 Global teacher Award 2018, they can provide truly inspirational and impactful educational experiences.

However it is not all doom and gloom and there are signs of progress. Job sharing and a 4 day week are being mooted as ways to alleviate some of the workload pressures, improved mentoring for new teachers is being suggested, and Oftsed is looking into its own assessment procedures.

To thrive in this profession you are going to need a good level of self-awareness to answer the following questions – how resilient are you? what environment suits you best? what type of student and teaching style will help you be the best teacher you can be?

Next steps

The best way to discover the answers to these questions and more is to get as much experience in an educational setting whilst you study, whether or not you are currently studying a teaching qualification. Check out our current placements here https://mycareerscentre.page.link/Placements or contact our placements team on 0151 291 3246 who can help you with your search.

The Teaching & Education Fair gives you a chance to meet face to face with over 15 local and national teaching organisations, recruitment agencies and local authorities. You will also have access to workshops and seminars from leading industry experts. There is no need to book, just pop along to the EDEN building on Monday 25 February.

Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. As with any weapon, its impact depends on who wields it. What type of educator are you going to be?

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Questions about teacher training? Why not come along to the Initial Teacher Training Q&A drop in this Wednesday 20 February at 1pm in the Employability Hub, to ask any question about teacher training.

The Teaching & Education Fair takes place on Monday 25 February in the Eden Building from 9-3.

Drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at careers@hope.ac.uk

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