In last week, I unpacked some of my career challenges over the past year. Over a series of events, A dropped a little hint that completing a post-graduate certificate in education would allow me to consider teaching as a career option.
I’ve never considered careers in education, especially on a school level and the thought of it had me petrified!
The main challenge was that I dreamt of becoming a psychometrist (and ultimately an industrial psychologist) for the past 10 years! I had carefully chosen the career based on a formula that shared on this blog a number of years ago. It was clear in my mind. A done deal and nothing was going to stand in my way!
First of, who wouldn’t want to have free afternoons and school vacations? Yes, I know and respect that the amount of work done in the school terms warrants a holiday, just like I understand that evenings and weekends are to a certain extent reserved for preparation and marking test papers.
So I get that there is no such thing as a free pass!
Pros of teaching
The Qualification Itself
In order for me to qualify as a teacher, all I will need to do is to complete a post-graduate certificate in education. It is a qualification that I can obtain in a year, but will realistically complete within two years.
More on this later, but to be fair there really aren’t any hoops to jump through!
Earlier this year, I listed my career needs as a working mom. Flexibility was one of them, along with balance, the necessity to move and a need to solve a problem. At this point in time, teaching meets 5 of the 6 needs I identified on that list!
Making a Difference
A good teacher makes or breaks a student. So having an opportunity to make a difference, seems like a worthwhile investment. I think it is a privilege to see a student transform throughout a year. And I also believe school kids need to understand not everything you are taught in school is useful or needed for the future. However, the ability to learn, to recognize patterns and to manipulate information and use it later, is a skill and an art worth learning.
I’ve been training adults for the past 5 years, so teaching seems like a stone’s throw. Whether I am naive in my assumption is yet to be seen!
A Platform to Create Awareness
Yip, I will be the teacher who will use human trafficking statistics to teach math. Enough said.
Awareness is the key to preventing human trafficking! And the best way to create awareness is to lay out the facts in front of the kids and give them the tools and means to protect themselves!
International Work Opportunity
Teachers are in high demand locally and overseas and like A says, there will always be a need for teachers. So you will always have teaching as a fallback if all else fails!
International work opportunity does make a refreshing change to my current struggles with a qualification that requires certification in South Africa.
Teaching ties in Really Nicely with Industrial Psychology
Educational psychology would have been a better workaround if I had bargained on ending up in back in school. But perhaps perspective will give me an edge over many other teachers. Unlike most teachers, I have been a teen mom, I have worked full time, studied part-time and worked in jobs/work environments I hated! Assuming teaching, who have been teaching all their lives, can contest to that!
Perhaps, school should be regarded as a little bit more than just school. Perhaps if we saw it as a training ground for the real thing – work life – we could instil better work ethic from a younger age and achieve more?
Cons of careers in education
One of the best nuggets of advice A has ever given me with regards to my approach to teachers in a teacher-parent evening has been to ask how the teacher is. And how the education department is treating them lately.
Since I have followed the approach, I have been told quite a few times, that the paperwork is the worst.
Honestly, my first thought was – there’s Evernote. Guess what – there actually is a huge amount of resources for teachers on Evernote!
Would playing hockey or softball be such a bad thing? Perhaps I could convince a contemporary school that Capoeira should be practised in schools as part of an anti-bullying campaign?
This is a big one! How do you go from a corporate environment with aircon to a classroom setup without it?
Salary is another biggie, especially within South-Africa. I guess we all need to start thinking of building a brand and a business, regardless of whether we are in the corporate world or teaching.
Post-Graduate Certificate in Education
UNISA is my go-to educational institution, mainly because I don’t have to attend classes and right now, that suits my lifestyle. Here are the programmes they offer:
- Foundation Phase and Early Childhood Development
- Intermediate and Senior Phase
- Senior Phase and Further Education and Training
Naturally, if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you could go for the one of the Bachelor of Education degrees. And if you are a geek like me, the Postgraduate Diploma in Tertiary Education would intrigue you.
I am opting for the Senior Phase and FET, option 3. It places me in a high school and personally I think, I will be better suited for high school students.
If you are considering a career in teaching and UNISA is an ideal school for you, bear in mind that there is a practical component to the certificate. You will need to take time off to go and complete the practical modules in a school environment.
My masters will always stay in the back of my head. Whether it is something that I will do in South Africa or start in South Africa and complete in another country, is another question. At the moment, I know that with Oliver going to Grade 1 next year, I can’t take on a masters degree right now.
Having said that, I have become a little lost without some kind of educational stimulation. The rhythm of exams and exam prep sits well with me. In essence, whether I study education or pursue it as a career, I am happy either way.
Careers in education are largely frowned upon in South-Africa. Yes, I know not every teacher is passionate or committed anymore. Today, I would like to honour and thank the committed teachers in South Africa that bring their A game and teach with passion.