Is teaching a good career for me? We tackle 12 myths about teaching head on.

We asked Jake Athorn, a history teacher at The Redhill Academy, to give us his take on some common, often conflicting, myths about the teaching profession. Jake graduated with a history degree from Nottingham Trent University.

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1. Teaching salaries aren’t very good.

The pay a teacher receives is incredibly competitive (as a new teacher, you’ll start on a minimum salary of £25k-£32K, depending on location). If I compare the salary I receive to that of those who graduated at a similar time to me, I see myself as really lucky to be paid that much. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to progress your career further in order to earn even more money. As your career progresses, so will your salary – in fact, teachers in leadership roles earn on average £54k.

2. Teaching is easy.

The further you get in your career the easier teaching becomes. If you start teaching on the basis that you love your subject then you are already off to a winning start. Your time in the classroom will not always be easy but it should be enjoyable. At the end of the day you are transferring skills and knowledge that you are passionate about to the younger generation, hopefully to give them the same feeling you had in your favourite lessons.

3. Teachers get the whole summer off.

This really depends on how efficient you are when it comes to planning lessons for the upcoming academic year. If your methods are effective, while you won’t get the whole summer off, you will most definitely be able to enjoy a large chunk of the summer holidays with the peace of mind that you are prepared for the start of next term, with no stress or hassle.

4. A teacher’s workload is unmanageable.

During exam season the workload for teachers does increase but if you have effectively planned your time this should not be an issue. There are points of the year in which you will have to work more than others, but this is true of many jobs.

5. The majority of teachers’ free time is spent lesson planning and marking.

Again, if you are efficient and effective at planning and marking this is most definitely not the case. My advice would be to make sure you really push yourself to become a solid marker and an effective lesson planner in the first two years of your career. Taking the extra time to master your craft this early on will enable you to reap the rewards further down the line.

6. Teachers can only progress if they give up the actual teaching.

This is not the case. There are plenty of different ways in which you can progress and still maintain teaching hours. If you are adamant that you do not want to give up teaching hours then you can progress your career down the subject specific route – by being either head of a subject or a director of a subject you can set the schemes of work for year groups and still carry on teaching.

7. There’s no variety in teaching.

There is plenty of variety! Not only do lessons change yearly, but so do the pupils, and there are always new and better ways to get your point across during a lesson. This is something that can only be learned by teaching a lesson multiple times to really see the points that you need to stress to your pupils.

8. You’re not recompensed for the overtime that teachers work.

The length of a teacher’s working week is again dependent on the amount of planning they have done. If you let the work get on top of you then most definitely you can quickly find yourself in a position where you are putting in a lot of hours to catch up. The trick is to be organised. Look at the weeks of the term when you know you will get busy, and space out and prioritise events such as marking mocks, marking year 7 essays etc.

9. Teachers burn out quickly.

If you manage your time right and take wise career moves then this is not the case. Like any other job you need to make sure you have a solid foundation and have mastered certain skills before you move up. As your career progresses the daily life of a teacher gets easier. If anything, as you progress you end up with more free time because you are more effective at daily tasks.

10. Would-be teachers worry that they will struggle to control the classroom.

This is always a worry and if a teacher tells you this isn’t then that is a lie! It is daunting stepping into a classroom full of children, especially if they are not so far from your own age. But with the right training and the right support around you, this quickly fades away as you recognise that when the students trust you, they will respect you and behaviour won’t be a problem.

11. There’s only one training route to become a teacher.

There are plenty of training routes available, such as

  • PGCE (university based)
  • SCITT (school centre based with added University days)
  • Teach First (predominantly school based).

Teacher training is unaffordable without getting a salaried place/course.

I received a £12k bursary for training to teach. I know this is not the case now in some subjects, which does make it difficult. However, there are routes into teaching that enable you to receive a salary right away (such as Teach First) and you can apply for a student loan. Take time to research the funding options available to you. 

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