I got a degree in English at Queens University and then went to the University
of Ulster to do a PGCE in Secondary Education. The PGCE took one year and
included six months teaching practice in local schools. Then I did some
supply teaching for agencies, where you teach at schools that need temporary
teachers. For a while I also worked as a care assistant in an old people’s
home. After six months, I got a permanent teaching job in St. Louis Secondary
School in Ballymena and I’ve been there for the past five years.
You need a degree in your subject area and a postgraduate teaching qualification
- the PGCE is the recognised qualification in Northern Ireland. Most schools
ask for some kind of teaching experience, but if you haven’t got
that, they may hire you as an NQT (newly qualified teacher), mentored by
an experienced teacher.
I get up at 7.30am because I have a forty minute drive to my school. Once
I arrive, I grab a quick coffee in the staffroom, check if I have any mail
and then take my form class for registration. Classes start at 9.05am and
each class lasts forty minutes. I get lunch at 12.05pm in the dining room
and usually have free periods during the day to catch up on marking. I
have more classes until 3.25pm and then I can go home, where I usually
mark and prepare lessons for the next day.
Fairly smart - usually a suit with a tie.
Salaries aren’t great at the beginning, but after a few years they
do improve considerably.
Working with young people makes my job lively and fun - it beats the tedium
of a desk job any day.
Confidence, the ability to take charge of a classroom, good planning skills,
excellent communication skills.
Cheap and cheerful lunch in the dining room every day, fantastic summer
holidays and you get home early!
Your first time in front of a class of kids can feel nerve-wracking. You
sometimes have to pretend to feel more authoritative than you actually
are at the beginning, until you get confident. Remember, if you look calm
and confident, kids will think you are. Kids can smell fear off teachers!
You shouldn’t go into teaching thinking it’s an easy option.
There’s a lot of hard work, some of it in the evenings and at weekends,
so be prepared. Having said that, it’s a very rewarding career if
you put the work in.