20 things they did not tell you when becoming a teacher

You spend 18 years in education including a minimum of four years in a degree, but there will still be things that you wish you had been told before you became a teacher. Not because it would have changed your mind, but so you were prepared for situations that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the day-to-day life of being a teacher.

Obviously there will be different challenges depending on which age group you teach, as well as where you are situated, but we have put together a list of the top 20 things that all teachers wish they had been told.

  1. You won’t learn everything from student teaching. Going on placements and time spent in the classroom will help you to get a feel for what life as a teacher is like, but be prepared to find out a lot more once you start your teaching job.
  2. Parents can be as much of a challenge as the children, but they are also an important part of your job. You don’t just interact with them at parent’s evening, and so the relationship you form with them needs to be set early. Not only will this help them to trust you with their children’s education, but it will ensure that they know what their boundaries are too.
  3. Having a specialism might be a drawback. Although during your degree you may have a specific subject that you study and specialise in, this may make it more difficult for you to get a job once you leave.
  4. The more degrees you have the more pay you can receive, so undertaking courses and extra qualifications can pay off in the long run.
  5. It takes a lot of commitment, not just the teaching, but planning, prepping and marking too. But the rewards are worth it.
  6. Your headteacher can be both a help and a hinderance. They will be there for when you need support, but may also put extra pressure on you with targets and objectives.
  7. Getting respect from pupils is hard and unfortunately the older they are, the harder it is. But be persistent, you will get there.
  8. You are very likely to find your best friends at school. As you spend most of your day in the classroom, the time you spend in the staffroom is your time to relax, with people who also need down time, so it is likely you will form very strong bonds with these people.
  9. Every teacher loves receiving gifts at the end of the year, but the little things like thank you notes from parents can often mean even more.
  10. You must have patience. Both with the children you are teaching and the parents, as they can often cause frustrations too. For example when they don’t realise how much effort you are willing to put into their child’s education to see them succeed, or if you feel that this effort is not matched by them.
  11. Always remember why you went into teaching in the first place…
  12. …and if you feel that you no longer like it, then don’t do it. Teaching is a job you can’t be unsure about
  13.  You will spend a lot of extra time at school. Whether it is preparing lessons, marking books or taking parents evenings, teaching is certainly not a 9-5 job.
  14. Even if your degree/training specialised in one age range, you must be willing to be flexible on this when it comes to finding a job, else you may find you are looking for a long time.
  15. Technology is here is stay so learn to use it in your lessons. Whether it’s getting children to do internet research into a topic, or using powerpoint to teach rather than writing on the board, the generations of today are more receptive then ever before so use it to your advantage.
  16.  Be prepared to spend your own money. Resources are often tight so if you want to make a display of your children’s’ work, or need some extra books to achieve your objectives you may need to pay for them yourself.
  17.  You must be a good time manager. With a million and one jobs to do, you must be able to prioritise tasks to ensure you can stick to lessons plans, and to keep your stress levels to a minimum.
  18.   Learn to love the internet. It is not only useful for research and teaching strategies, it also offers access to teacher forums where you can discuss and learn from other teachers.
  19.  Always be prepared for anything. You never know what is going to happen when you walk through the classroom door every morning, no matter how prepared you think you are, so learn how to deal with stressful situations to avoid frustration. The lesson may not go to plan, but be confident that you know how to still get the information across and ensure the children learn.
  20. Enjoy the summer holidays, after all you have earned them!

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