Seven things to do if you’re thinking about teaching as a career

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  1. Work out whether you are aiming for Primary or Secondary teaching – or perhaps you’d prefer teaching in a completely different setting, for example sixth form college, training centre, or a prison (depending on your personal strengths, previous qualifications, and interests).
  2. Register with Get Into Teaching and the UCAS Teacher Training site; both have information on different routes into teaching.
  3. Set up a chat with a teacher to ask them what working in a school is really like. For example, you could ask about their typical day including lesson planning, marking and tasks other than teaching, what they like about being a teacher, challenges they face and strategies they use to manage the class and maintain their resilience.
  4. Arrange a visit to a school (or even better to two completely different types of schools – large Vs small intake, different age ranges), so you can see how you feel about the environment and working culture. Use your networks to find out if anyone works in a school you could visit. The Department for Education has a School Experience Programme (SEP) which can help you find local opportunities.
  5. Set up experience (volunteering or paid work) so you are in a position to apply for teacher training courses if you decide that’s the right option for you. (Getting work experience in a school or other education setting can be a stepping stone to other areas of work beyond teaching in any case).
  6. Have a look at TryTeaching (paid internships within schools to see whether you like the environment, then further support if you decide you want to apply for teacher training)
  7. Have a look at the information on getting into teaching on Careers Central and book onto one of our Career Focus Teacher Training events via: https://unihub.shu.ac.uk/

Teacher training – when the dream hasn’t become reality….

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…yet.

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So, you’ve been unsuccessful with your first three choices for teacher training through Apply 1 – what now? The dream isn’t over yet, but you’re going to need to do some more work to try and turn the situation around. So you want to teach? That means you’re resilient, right? Then it’s time to get straight ‘back onto the horse’ and see what training places are still available and make a further application using Apply 2. Of course that means putting yourself up for consideration again.

If you weren’t shortlisted for any of your choices, then you may need to revisit your application. You cannot change it, but what you could do when you’ve made your new choice is contact the training provider and ask whether you can supply any supplementary information in support of your application. If this is the case then have a think about how you can add to your original statement. You will still need to be concise though – providing reams and reams of additional content is likely to hinder rather than help.

If you were lucky enough to get an interview, but were unsuccessful at that stage, did you get feedback from the training providers after each interview? We all come out of an interview thinking; I wish I’d said this? Why didn’t I say that? Your first port of call should be to get the panel’s take on where you can improve – was it the answers to your questions, your performance during any activities or simply that you were outperformed on the day? The answers to these questions will help you to work on the things that are within your control, but also you will need to accept those that simply are outside of your control – you can’t mitigate for someone else’s performance for example.

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SHU students and recent graduates are welcome to make an appointment to talk through your interview preparation and you could also see if there are any practise interview slots available in the run up to the real thing to help you to hone your skills. We have information available to help you to prepare for teacher training interviews on our Careers Central website.

Andrew Walton
Employability Adviser

Teaching: The Obvious Choice?

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As advisers, we see lots of students who are interested in going into teaching. For many, this is a well thought-through plan. Many students have experience of interacting with school-age children, have observed or helped out in schools, and have a realistic picture of teaching as a profession and how well they might be suited to it. However, for other students, discussion of why they want to teach often reveals a different picture.  It becomes clear that many feel they should go into teaching because they don’t know what their other options are. Some feel they should go into teaching because they need to do something using their degree subject, otherwise their degree “will have been a waste of time”.

Why does this happen? I think part of the reason is that teaching is a high profile profession – we have all been taught, and probably all think we have an idea of what being a teacher involves. It is therefore a career we all know about. While there are thousands of other careers out there, most are not as apparent or obvious as teaching. It is very difficult to know whether you will like a career unless you have some experience of it, or have at least met and spoken to someone working in that career. The result is that lots of people say they want to be teachers because it is the only career or profession they know much about.

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Teaching your subject at secondary level is an obvious choice for making direct use of your degree subject. However, I would suggest that this alone is not a good enough reason to go into teaching! There are many careers where you can make use of your degree subject, but are perhaps less obvious than teaching. Finding out about these will require research and effort – for some idea of where to start, have a look at the ideas at the end of this post.

You are not limited by your degree subject – you don’t have to go into a career that is related to your degree subject. Students are often surprised to hear this! Your options are probably wider than you think, as the majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates from any degree subject. Many employers tell us that they are often less concerned about your degree subject, but are more interested in the intrinsic added-value you will have gained from studying for a degree: analytical and critical thinking abilities, research skills, presentation skills, independence, project leadership, and so on. So while not all graduate jobs will be related to your degree subject, they will still require  you to use the skills and attributes you have gained from your degree.

So, what am I saying? Yes, teaching is a brilliant career, rewarding, challenging, interesting… However, it’s not for everyone, and it is just one of many rewarding, challenging and interesting careers out there! If you are one of those thinking you should teach because you don’t think you have any other options, here are some steps you could take:

and :

  • Book to see a Careers Adviser – talking all of this through with someone who is non-judgmental and unbiased can really help!

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Rachel Firth, Careers Adviser

Life after University: DON’T PANIC!

Ryan, an English and History student, tells us how he has come to realise that answering the question of what he is going to do with his life will take time ….

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As an English & History student in the early stages of my second year the time has come for me to confront the inescapable question that all students will have to address: “What do I want to do after I finish university?” This question is rather daunting for someone who is still coming to terms with the mystifying process of ironing. My first act was to make a list of the things that I truly enjoy: English and history (obviously), politics, music, Leadmill on a Monday and Friday, Continue reading