Whether you’re looking at completing a PGCE or an undergrad, and whether you have experience in schools or not, there are a lot of things to consider before going into teaching.
What are you reasons for choosing teaching?
This is the absolute first question that you need to ask yourself. What are you reasons for teaching? What influenced your decision? The idea of inspiring a generation? A beloved teacher of your own that encouraged you?
If it is anything other than a love of education and the idea of inspiring students, maybe re-evaluate your situation.
Which area of teaching?
Until I began the process of applying to become a teacher, I hadn’t really considered the enormous range that I had to choose from. Primary, secondary, special education, English as a second language, English as a foreign language, Montessori etc.
If you can’t decide straight away, take the initiative to find some work experience in a few different areas. This will allow you to observe other teachers, and is crucial in your decision-making.
If you need to, make a pro/con list of the different areas. Having it written in front of you might make it a little clearer.
How are you going to do it?
With many routes into teaching, this is entirely dependent on what your situation is. If you’ve just completed an undergraduate degree, a PGCE might be the best option for you. If you already work in a school as a non-teacher, perhaps speak to the headteacher about having your teaching qualification part-funded.
Check with UCAS or the National Careers Service for your options.
How is your lifestyle going to change?
Teaching is not a small commitment. Although in theory weekends and school holidays are ‘guaranteed’, a lot of the teacher’s work is preparatory. Between lesson planning, marking and teacher training days, you can’t expect to have the whole of the summer holidays to yourself. Unless you’re incredibly time-efficient, you can expect to spend a lot of early morning and late nights working too.
What is the salary like?
Very rarely will a teacher say to you that they entered the profession for the amazing salary. This simply isn’t true. In a lot of cases, the salary isn’t amazing. However, this goes back to the reason for teaching: you absolutely have to be ‘in it for the kids’.
Having said this, the daily sense of reward is an incredible incentive to work as a teacher.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years?
Can you see yourself climbing the ladder to lead a team of your own teachers one day? Or is it just a job that you can see yourself leaving before you hit the 5 year mark?