My career change to teaching

Published 3 February 2022
By Ian Wallace

Science teacher and career changer, Ian Wallace

I always wanted to be a teacher when I was at school, after the obvious football career. But when I finished university I didn’t think it was right for me. I had been in education a long time and worried I wasn’t mature enough. I went away and had several different jobs and careers at various levels of responsibility in retail, food and sports, including being self-employed a couple of times.

Time had passed and I had moved back to Newcastle, met my now wife and was contemplating my future. I was sat having a meal with my wife and she said, ‘Why don’t you teach?’ My wife is a primary school teacher and she knew that it was what I should be doing with the skill set and experience that my career had given me so far. In particular, I had skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience, all of which come with maturity and experience.

I took the bull by the horns and looked into the available qualification routes, settling on school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT). With a SCITT you’re in school from the start and that appealed to my work style and ethic. Being in my late 30s and having financial responsibilities for my family, I needed to have support. Fortunately, I was studying science which was funded and allowed me to concentrate on my training.

I made a conscious decision with my wife that I wouldn’t work at home in the evenings if I could avoid it. I treated my training as if I was going to work every day. I was at the school at 7am and stayed each night until 6pm or later if needed. This worked brilliantly for me.

For me, the decision to apply to teach later on in life meant I felt even more capable of balancing the demands of the course, dealing with stressful moments, and having successful strategies for coping with competing demands. I knew that having been in stressful job roles and having dealt with difficult situations previously I would be emotionally strong and able to deal with any situation that occurred. I also knew that I was old enough and definitely secure enough in my own character and personality to be open and honest with the students, about both my life and my career to date.

As far as benefits are concerned, I am paid at a graduate level and have excellent holidays, which I get to spend with my family because we’re all off together at the same time. In all, it was a great decision. Even though my whole training and subsequent teaching has been during a pandemic, I have loved every minute. I would advise anyone thinking about changing careers that you will be embraced and more importantly an asset to the profession and students.

If you’re interested in enriching the lives of young people, explore if teaching is right for you.

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