It is a strange topic to aim at people considering a career in education.  You haven’t got your job yet and maybe you haven’t even started training.  However, if you do not consider the borders between work and life, then you are in danger of the personal and professional become indistinct.  Here is some advice before you look at teacher jobs or teaching assistant jobs.

First, when are you going to start and stop work.

Your day may be governed by a timetable when the students are present.  However, there is at least 100% more work to do once the children leave or the day.  Primary teacher jobs, in my biased opinion, are more difficult for this than secondary school teacher jobs.  I am an English teacher in a secondary school – not what you expected? Well, primary school teachers are more likely to work long into the evening than their counterparts.  They have more planning to do and more paperwork to fill in.  The parents are more active in the child’s life – so they have more meetings to attend.  So, again – when will your day start and when will it end – and be disciplined about this.

Secondly, sit down one day and work out your hourly rate.

Take your salary and divide it by the hours you have committed and dispassionately consider if you are being paid enough for your expertise.  Many teachers work for less than the minimum wage.  Working 60 hours or more each week, yet for a set salary.  Soon, you are not being rewarded for the exceptional expertise that you bring to the classroom.  You might not mind today – in your early days in education – but you will begin to mind after 10 or 11 years.

Thirdly, every teacher – EVERY teacher – at some point uses their own money to subsidise the work in their own classroom.

Recently there was something called the Pound Shop Pedagogy – where you could buy random resources from the pound shop to make interesting activities and approaches in the classroom.  Does the manager walk to the pound shop and use department funds? No, the individual teacher purchases the items because they are excited by the possibilities.  They also buy treats and prizes and gifts for children for a birthday or to make them feel better.  This is how the personal begins to seep into the professional. Are you happy with this balance between work and home?

Then, and this is the biggest, you have to decide that the problem is not yours to solve and you have to walk away from being a teacher.  You need at some point to be a mother or father; husband or wife – and leave someone else to pick up the slack.  If you plan and work this way you might last an entire career in teaching.

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