Teaching has always been seen as a ‘permanent, pensionable job’. Many teachers left college, got a job, got made permanent and are still teaching in the school 20/25/30 years later. This is no longer the case. Many teachers leave college, apply to hundreds of schools, get a maternity/short term contract and then move on when the teacher they are covering for returns. (Sometimes new teachers can get lucky and get a years contract but this is not always the case). Job security for teachers is not what it used to be with many worrying year after year about whether they will have a job the following year.
I’ve received a number of messages from devastated teachers who have to move to different schools because the person they were covering for is returning in September. While I fully understand the fear of the unknown and the want to be staying in your school – the one you love and where you know how things work- this post is to show the benefits of moving schools. I’ve worked in 8 different schools since qualifying in 2011 so I had to get to know 8 different groups of teachers, 8 different schools, 8 different routines/ways of doing things, 8 different sets of procedures etc. At the time I too was devastated about moving on but now that I look back I see the huge benefits.
- New children. I’ve worked with children from a wide variety of backgrounds. This has made me a better teacher as I have had to adapt my teaching style and methodologies to suit the children in my care. By teaching different groups of children from different areas/ socio-economic backgrounds, nationalities you learn how to make the child the centre of teaching and how to support the learning of every child in your class.
- New people. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues over the past few years. By working with different groups of people I have learned different teaching methodologies, different ways of doing displays, different behaviour management strategies and classroom organisation. I’ve also made new friends from different areas in Ireland and the UK.
- New leadership. I’ve worked with 8 different principals all of whom have very different leadership styles. You can learn a huge amount from the leaders of schools – by working with different principals you learn more and more strategies and methodologies which you can use to improve yourself as a teacher.
- New ways of doing things. I think by staying in the same place you get kind of stuck in a ‘this is the way we do it’ – even when this is not the right way. There is often a fear or reluctance to change. By working in different schools you learn different things and you lose some of that fear and are willing to try different things to improve your teaching.
- New roles. It’s important to work in different roles as a teacher. I have worked as a class teacher, resource teacher and learning support teacher since qualifying. Each role is so different – it’s almost like 3 different jobs. By working as a learning support/resource teacher during my first year out of college – I learned how best to differentiate and support the children with additional needs in my role as a class teacher. It is also a good idea (if possible) to work in different year groups both at the junior and senior end of a school.
Overall don’t feel too disheartened if you don’t get the job you want at your current school. You can learn a lot from working in different schools and who knows you might even like a different school more!