As getwestlondon teams up with Teach First to launch the "Challenge the Impossible" campaign, we take a look at some of the common myths which may be putting you off a teaching career - and explain what the reality is.
Whether you’re worried about the pay and progression opportunities or want to know more about what it will actually be like in the classroom, here are a few explanations which may help you decide whether teaching is the career for you.
The "Challenge the Impossible" campaign is encouraging people to make a real difference to young people’s lives by taking a step into the classroom.
Teach First offers a salaried role for two years, ongoing personalised support and development and a fully funded academic qualification.
The myth: It’s easy
“Those who can’t, teach” - wrong.
This is one of the most challenging careers in the country. There will be days where you’re struggling to make progress with your pupils, there will be marking in the evenings, and you’ll judge anyone who even dares to suggest you have 13 weeks uninterrupted holiday each year.
But then there are so many times where you’ll come out at the end of the week flying. You’ll spend your weekends talking about nothing else but your success with a particular pupil or class - and it will be those times when you realise what a rewarding career you have.
The myth: You’ll just be reading from a textbook all day
As a teacher your classroom is your domain, but with great power comes great responsibility.
Just how do you get a group of 15-year-olds through algebra? Lesson planning is a true test of your creativity to keep your pupils on side.
The myth: There are no opportunities for pay or progression
You could earn more than you think.
Schools value good teachers, which gives you many opportunities to increase your salary by taking on extra responsibility and progressing up the ranks. More on teacher salaries can be found here .
And you won’t be alone in your development – if you come in through Teach First, there’s plenty of support for your career progression.
The myth: Teaching isn’t a prestigious career choice
Teaching is actually a job that is vital - and it matters to the whole country. You have real responsibility from day one for your students and how they’ll get on out in the adult world.
The myth: You should never work with children or animals
Pupils can be hilarious, and quite random - at any time you might be questioned what would happen if you dug a hole to the centre of the earth and put a shark in it (this really was asked).
Every day you will find yourself chatting with your pupils in a way that will often beat any office small talk.
The myth: Teaching is a really isolating experience and you never spend any time with adults
You and your fellow teachers are like comrades-in-arms – united together to get the best for your pupils and the school.
As for the common myths about Teach First...
The myth: Teach First is only for young graduates from the top 10 universities
There’s eligibility criteria of course. But of the Teach First teachers last year, 26% were career changers, coming from all sorts of backgrounds – whether from their first job, just out of university or having spent 20 years in business.
Teach First still happens to be one of the top rated graduate recruiters in the UK, so if you do know any second or third year university students without plans yet then give them a nudge.
The Teach First teaching community is diverse too – from last year, 16% of Teach First teachers are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, 10% have a disability and 7% are LGBT.
Nearly half are the first in their family to go to university themselves and around a quarter were on free school meals when they were in school.
Young people should have a range of teachers from all sorts of backgrounds. So before you think Teach First might not be for you, give real consideration to how your individuality might just be exactly what a classroom needs.
The myth: Teach First is tough to get onto
If it isn’t easy, then it isn’t worth doing. There’s an online application, an assessment centre, some subject tests and time shadowing in a school before the Summer Institute training residential.
Exhausted just reading it? It’s not as scary as it sounds. All the way through you’ll have support from a dedicated recruitment team.
They’ll help you understand how you’ll be assessed and how to best show off when you’ve demonstrated key skills – be that in your bar job at university, in the office, or on the board of directors.
It’s as much about what you could do, not what you’ve done. Anyone could have the power to make a difference.
The myth: Teach First throw you into the classroom with minimal training
Your five-week, full-time Summer Institute residential combines time in schools with lectures and sessions on best practice. Think of it as a teaching boot camp, but with an Ofsted outstanding rating and considerably less mud.
And you’re not on your own come the start of the school year. You’ll teach a reduced timetable at first, and have an in-school mentor, a university tutor and dedicated support from Teach First for your whole two years - not to mention the support from your fellow teachers.
Persuaded that teaching could be your next challenge this year?
The Teach First Leadership Development Programme is a salaried, two-year programme that gives you real responsibility and the chance to make a difference to children's lives.
You’ll gain a fully-funded qualification and the key skills and personal qualities to make a real impact. Find out more at https://www.teachfirst.org.uk/challenge-impossible-ldp
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