Thinking about a teaching career? Headteacher Paul Stone of Inspiring Leaders Teacher Training shares some advice.
1 Get an insight into teaching. It’s not just about visiting schools. Try and shadow teachers at work as well. Look at all the aspects of the job. It’s not just about what happens in the classroom. Go to their PPA sessions, see how they plan teaching. You need to see the mechanics of it. Teaching is a bit like looking at an iceberg. Most people see just the classroom facing aspect of the work – not the hours spent planning and marking and professional development. Some people who come into teaching don’t think beyond the classroom and then they realise that they can’t sustain it. You need to know that the job will fit with you first. We’re giving prospective teachers the opportunity to visit our schools to see all these aspects of teaching and we hope it will be valuable.
2 Read children’s books. Read children’s fiction. If you are teaching literacy and don’t know the books, particularly in the junior phase, then you will be at a disadvantage. By Key Stage 2 there are novels to read. If you don’t know them then it will be difficult to be able to plan and teach literacy.
3 Be aware of developments. The education sector is going through what is probably the greatest period of change in 70 years. The way schools are controlled is changing, with the growth of academies that are no longer controlled by local councils. Then there are curriculum changes and initiatives to support kids from poor families, such as the pupil premium and many other important policy changes that will affect how teachers teach. Read up about these developments in the specialist education media (such as the TES) and the national press so you become familiar with your chosen sector.
4 Don’t get hung up on terminology when choosing a teacher training course. Focus on the training and support you will receive and the experience of teaching that a programme will give you. Teaching is a highly skilled profession which can’t be learned just from lecture hall theory because schools are such fast changing places today. And it’s not a job that can be learned ‘on the job’. Look for a programme that focuses on practical classroom experience with a strong supporting element of theory. Most importantly, make sure that you will be closely supported throughout your training and first years of teaching by an experienced teacher mentor. Their support will be invaluable. This is the approach we have taken with our new School Direct teacher training programme.
5 Think about your lifestyle. Teaching is more of a lifestyle choice than a job. It’s worth it because it is so enormously rewarding. Working with children is such a privilege. They’re the most optimistic and wonderful people you could hope to spend your working days with. But the job will have an impact on your life outside of school. There will be marking to do in the evenings and Sundays will become planning time. It’s a big job, but the rewards are incredible.
6 Consider your career ambitions. Today there are opportunities to progress up the career ladder if you are ambitious and able so if you are looking for a school based teacher training provider find out what career path would be open to you after you qualify as a teacher. For me and my colleagues at Inspiring Leaders Teacher Training we think it is vital that there is a clear career path for ambitious people. We offer teacher training and then courses for people aspiring to more senior roles and headship. We think it’s important to give people an obvious route to school leadership roles because it really motivates people to do their best and it keeps the best people in the profession.
Paul Stone is headteacher at Kibworth CE Primary School in Leicestershire. Kibworth and Candleby Lane School in Nottinghamshire have together established Inspiring Leaders, a partnership offering training and development programmes for teachers and school leaders. The partnership has just become a teacher training provider and opens recruitment to its new School Direct course in September 2014. Further details are at www.inspiringleaderstoday.com/teacher-training.