Teaching is often something we’re put off in school – after all, who wants to be a teacher? But once you’re at university, this starts to wear off and some graduates discover a passion for pedagogy that they’d never anticipated before.
Teachers work at every level from infant schools to universities, so the stereotype that you have to be a ‘kid person’ to be a teacher isn’t necessarily true. There are quite a few differences between teaching in primary, secondary and higher education. On the one hand, it’s about depth of knowledge, and on the other hand, it’s about the kind of personal qualities that you’ll need to succeed.
At primary level, you need a broad understanding of all the curriculum subjects, plus the soft skills necessary to allow you to look after the welfare of young children. At secondary level, you’ll be teaching a specific subject to different ages from 11-18, so you’ll need great people skills and assertiveness combined with a good, in-depth knowledge of your subject, gained through a degree. As a higher education lecturer, your role is not only to know your specific subject area inside out but also to advance research in that area. You’ll also need to have great people skills and be able to teach adults without talking down to them. Every education professional we spoke to said that they found that they learnt from their students, and it seems that a certain level of humility is very important in this profession – something to bear in mind if you’re considering teacher training.
There are various bursaries available depending on what educational stage you want to teach. Whether you’re training at primary, secondary or university level, there may be funding available at some stage, so stay persistent. Getting experience in a school setting is a prerequisite for graduates and students who want to teach in state schools, and many local authorities will be happy to help you arrange this.
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