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career change: I want to teach physics (and maths)

PepPep Posts: 501
edited November 2014 in The cake stop
Here myself:
41yr old EU physicist, graduated in Italy and then PhD in England in 2000, then employed without breaks in academic or industrial research in Japan 4.5yr, UK 8yr, Germany 2yr (and counting). As a student I was absolutely outstanding, career has been good but could have been better.
My employer will not be able to keep me once my present contract ends in 2016. My salary today is very good (been also poor in the past years).
I could continue to work in research but that would mean having to relocate every few years, possibly until retirement, possibly to new country (new language, new hassle, etc). Lack of long-term vision (my house and garden, my neighbours, child to the local school, my training routes) gives me depression. It does not help that I am specialized in an academic field that is small and shrinking. I have had enough of working 60hr-week, years of no-holidays because of workload, or shifts like 5am-9am (no joke!) because "it's interesting".

I am married (wife works from home, prepared to follow me wherever), we have a child at Kindergarten here in Germany.

I have always wanted to teach physics, or even better physics and math. I did tutoring during my University time and loved it.
Britain is the country where I lived longest between mid 80s and now, so somehow is where I still feel most attached. We still own a house there (let), report to HMRC and pay NI, follow English news, speak English at home (the only language my wife and I have in common).

Once my contract ends I am considering a career-change and finally go into teaching. I know that our financial situation will never be great, and poor at the beginning.

Questions:
We have cities, the bigger the worse, love outdoor. Where would be good places to train? I dream of a small town near good outdoor area. Cycling commute 15-20miles each way every day no problem, any weather.
Government says there is a severe shortage of teachers in general and physics and maths teacher in particular, so job finding should be easy. Is it true?
How realistic is to foresee extra income via private tutoring?
Anything else?

Posts

  • capt_slogcapt_slog Posts: 3,603
    At which grade are you considering 'teaching'?

    I'm just wondering if this includes lecturing at university.


    The older I get, the better I was.

  • PepPep Posts: 501
    Capt Slog wrote:
    At which grade are you considering 'teaching'?

    I'm just wondering if this includes lecturing at university.

    At secondary school.

    In my major at University there is not such a thing as "teaching jobs". If you work in academia (like I do, been doing it for 9yr now) you are employed to do research. Teaching is a side-duty, but your survival is linked to research success.
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    Familiar tale from scientists, sadly - spend all your time worrying about the next grant app, the next contract, the next house move, the next...
    ... teaching, on the other hand, is the epitome of a portable job (teachers required everywhere) but also one with great security (most jobs are full time and permanent). Salary not brilliant unless promoted but it's really not bad. And don't get me started on holidays...
    I would recommend it as a career... for some but not others. I would strongly suggest that you get as much experience as you can working with young people before you even consider it. As a kid I had quite a few teachers from science/academia backgrounds: some were inspiring teachers whose passion for their subject transmitted really well, some were utterly ineffectual and simply could not relate to kids in any way. Find out which you would be before you sign up. If you can take your job satisfaction from seeing kids develop, perhaps even in small ways, you will not get fed up - but if you expect to see kids soar just because of your innate genius, be prepared for major disappointment. As a scientist you will find some of your colleagues (even subject specialists) depressingly ignorant, but that doesn't mean they aren't effective teachers, or that you can't learn from them. In general teachers are like everyone else - they have strengths and weaknesses, individual characters, good and bad. Same for the kids, for that matter.

    As for where: like I said, it's portable, so you can train and work more or less anywhere in the UK: it is certainly possible to choose where you want to live and then find a job there - but within limits, and the usual rule applies: the less you want to live somewhere, the more jobs are going there. if it's outdoor you want, the north of England, Scotland or Wales: although SW England is great too. You're never far from teacher training anywhere in the UK. The quality varies, of course, but most of what's really useful you learn by direct observation (and more scary - by trial and error) in school placements. Learn everything you can from teachers you meet, but find your own way - you are probably better than half the ones you meet.
    Personally I love living and working in Scotland having lived here most of my adult life - the education system is different but the fundamentals are all the same: it is easier to work here if you train here. I live within an hour or so's drive of great beaches, mountains, rivers, forests, a ski centre, an acclaimed international cultural city (that's Edinburgh for the benefit of any Weegies listening ;-)) and three unis with teacher training; within commuting range I could work in inner city sink schools, posh country town schools, private schools, average schools, well run schools, not so well run schoools..

    That's all a bit vague but I hope it helps! Better go now, free period - sorry, I mean preparation time - finished, better do some work!
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,043
    I've been a teacher for over 20 years and have worked in countries in the EU, Asia and NZ. I would agree wholeheartedly with Bompington - you must get some experience of working with kids before you sign up, through something like volunteer work where you have some responsibility. Also certainly agree that you cannot expect students to share your love of the subject or excel just because you did. Having said that, maths and physics are the two most sought after subjects. Feel free to PM me if you want any specifics.
    Cheers,
    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • mm1mm1 Posts: 1,063
    Not a teacher, nor a physicist but I am a parent of 2 (very different) teenage children and a school governor. Have to agree with the suggestion that you try before committing to change career. There are reasons for the high turnover in the teaching profession. I know that I could not stand trying to teach my son (bright but idle) and his similarly lackadaisical mates, but they are at least reasonably nice boys. From what I have seen teaching can be a bit like trench warfare or working in a prison, varying between the soul destroying boredom of child minding to the all out terror of riot control.
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    there are lots of scheems now to fast track you into teaching for subjects in demand - which maths and physics are rather than having to do a year unpaid teaching training conversion course, so you shouldnt have a problem gettiung a job.

    certainly round here loads of families want extra private tuition - probanbly the same all over the country.

    if you want your wages to go further then teahc in the north of Engalnd or certaiunly awat from the south east, the people are friendlier and the beer is better. Think Bavaria without the leather shorts :D
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  • finchyfinchy Posts: 6,686
    Pep wrote:
    I have had enough of working 60hr-week

    Then teaching in the UK probably isn't for you. A German friend of mine has just done a year teaching in an English school and she can't believe the amount of work that English teachers have to do compared to German ones. You might be better off staying where you are.
    Pep wrote:
    How realistic is to foresee extra income via private tutoring?

    Unless you work as a part-time teacher, not realistic at all.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    I may be biased but there are towns in Derbyshire that fit the bill - maybe Matlock, Buxton, Bakewell or somewhere like those. Good outdoors area, great for cycling, not too remote so plenty of employment opportunities and plenty of country roads to ride on and some major cities nearby. The only thing Derbyshire doesn't have is the sea.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • Mad_MalxMad_Malx Posts: 4,371
    Pep wrote:
    I have had enough of working 60hr-week,

    You will work this much - all the teachers I know are permenantly knacked during term time, but yes the hols are good.
    Pep wrote:
    Once my contract ends I am considering a career-change and finally go into teaching. I know that our financial situation will never be great, and poor at the beginning.
    Government says there is a severe shortage of teachers in general and physics and maths teacher in particular, so job finding should be easy. Is it true?
    How realistic is to foresee extra income via private tutoring?
    Anything else?

    I know a lot of science graduates and experienced PhDs who have gone this route (in engineering and science). The fall-out is very high, usually because it is a much harder job than they realise. There is a massive difference between small group tuition and a class of 28 hormonally challenged teenagers most interested in impressing their mates. Not saying you can't do it, but be under no illusions that it is an easy option.

    Govt were giving golden hellos or maybe training grants to shortage areas like physics and maths - check this out.

    You won't have the energy or time for private tuition during term time, when most of the demand is. Most likely in maths - those that can't do physics don't care that much.

    Point about uni teaching above is correct - all recruitment at the higher end is on research funding potential. If you have a strong publication record then it is a maybe, but you would have to be outstanding to compete against academic postdocs who (should have) published a lot more and have evidence of grant winning.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    Mate of mine is a teacher with a kid - he's got his first cat licence this year and must do 300 miles a week so he can't be working that hard as he's out on his bike most evenings. I know they don't clock off at 3.30 but I reckon 60 hours a week is a bit of an exaggeration - another mate went into teaching after a PhD in Biology - reckoned you could do 60 hours if you wanted but it wasn't necessary. Not knocking the profession at all, my mum was a secondary teacher, but 60 hours as a standard week is a gross exaggeration imo - it'd be sitting down at 6 and working straight through to 10.30 5 nights a week.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • RideOnTimeRideOnTime Posts: 4,712
    he's got his first cat licence

    Is that like a minky?
  • Don't just volunteer in a school - get permission from a Physics teacher in a typical school to actually shadow them. Standing in front of kids and managing them is the best part of the job, but only one facet of it. As others have written, there is a reason why turnover in the profession is so depressingly high, and amongst physicists it is particularly high. Make sure you have a very good idea of what it's like to be a full-time teacher, not just what it's like to be in a classroom, before committing to anything.
  • PepPep Posts: 501
    Teacher I know in England:

    Teacher 1, 2, and 3, I know them from the running club and they represented their country, UK, in international events. One is (was) an elite marathon runner must have done 5000miles a year average, running not cycling!
    Teacher 4, now retired, used to publish her own books
    Teacher 5, a woman maths teacher has an allotment.
    Teacher 6, plays music in an orchestra.
    Teacher 6, runs her allotment.

    In short: I can't say how much they work but they do have time for hobbies.
  • tim_wandtim_wand Posts: 2,552
    I ve taught as Cover at all levels for about 5 years, off the back off my degree. My biggest claim to fame is teaching Physics at Kings school Grantham in the very room Newton was a scholar.

    Basically Academies can and will employ you just from your degree qualification. However you are best trying to get a QTS qualification preferably PGCE or GTP . You'll have to take a year out and find a school willing to accept you on the PGCE, but it is the more respected and internationally recognised qualification. You can do the GTP and get paid and work during the course.

    The profession is crying out for Maths and Physics teachers. You might want to look at doing a Maths Conversion course if your first degree isn't in Maths, This plus your initial degree would probably get you in the door on a PGCE or GTP with a placement at a school.

    Look at some education supply agencies like Aspire/ Monarch and Reed. They can get you cover/Supply jobs off the back of your degree. And classroom hours count for a lot more than qualifications.

    One word of warning though, be prepared to be depressed by how much of your time you spend on Classroom Management/ discipline as apposed to delivering learning outcomes.
  • finchyfinchy Posts: 6,686
    Average working hours for a secondary school teacher are 55.7 hours a week according to a DfE survey.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27087942
  • PepPep Posts: 501
    I do believe teachers work longer than most people think, but asking them how much they work sounds like asking bankers if they think they are overpaid...
  • Pep wrote:
    At secondary school.

    In my major at University there is not such a thing as "teaching jobs". If you work in academia (like I do, been doing it for 9yr now) you are employed to do research. Teaching is a side-duty, but your survival is linked to research success.

    Very true. teaching is not even under-rated, it is not rated at all! The way Uni career is assessed is:

    1) Research funding
    2) Research publication (quality and quantity)

    To teach in schools you need a qualification, which takes a couple of years to get, if I understand correctly... it is funny as you don't need one to teach at Uni... it's all down to dealing with under 18s

    There are University teaching fellowships, but typically they are 1-3 years contracts to cover for members of staff involved as coordinators in big EU consortia or stuff like that... never seen a permanent one
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    There are some reality TV shows about schools which might give a little bit of a taste of what it is like being a teacher. I work with kids myself and with secondary I do think you need to be a certain sort of character to be able to keep reasonable order and not let it get to you too much when things get "challenging". My sister in law was fine in a grammar school but didn't last 18 months when she moved to a rough comprehensive in a coastal resort town. Ironically she's now gone into academia as an educationalist. Another guy I know went into teaching after a career in the army but had to get out when he found he couldn't control his temper.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Our eldest son is in his second year as a secondary school teacher. He teaches Design Technology, which is one of the easier subjects in terms of engaging the kids, but the amount of work he has to do in the evenings and at weekends is kind of depressing. He only really gets a break from it in the summer holidays.

    I couldn't do it.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,627
    johnfinch wrote:
    Average working hours for a secondary school teacher are 55.7 hours a week according to a DfE survey.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27087942

    Employees in 'I work really hard' survey response shock. My sister works hard as a teacher and certainly more than a standard 9-5 job but nowhere near 55 / 60 hours a week probably more mid 40s like many other similar 'pofessional' jobs and that's with all the voluntary after school stuff she does because she enjoys it. She then has 5 of the 6 week summer holidays off completely as well as the other main school holidays. I wouldn't teach but that's down to the fact I couldn't put up with the kids and their parents. I admire good, dedicated teachers but they do like to harp on about their long hours whilst apparently assuming everyone else only works what is in their contract.
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    keef66 wrote:
    Our eldest son is in his second year as a secondary school teacher. He teaches Design Technology, which is one of the easier subjects in terms of engaging the kids, but the amount of work he has to do in the evenings and at weekends is kind of depressing. He only really gets a break from it in the summer holidays.

    I couldn't do it.

    I completely agree it is a very tough and demanding profession which I couldn't do either.
  • Mad_Malx wrote:
    Pep wrote:
    I have had enough of working 60hr-week,

    You will work this much - all the teachers I know are permenantly knacked during term time, but yes the hols are good.
    Absolutely, I started a PGCE in sciences fifteen years back. On 1/3 teaching I was up to gone 11.30pm every night doing lesson plans and back up at 6.30 commuting to my teaching practise. In lesson plans you have to outline the timing of each lesson to within five minutes, and are monitored on how well you stick to it. Everything goes wrong when you have a DVD to show and the blinds are too rotten to use.

    I think I knew it was not for me when I asked a senior teacher how long it was before you stopped feeling exhausted all the time and she said, "You don't."
  • finchyfinchy Posts: 6,686
    I watched my Mum and Stepdad get home, make a meal and then go upstairs and do marking, planning and paperwork the whole evening for years until they finally retired last year. Both of them were very successful teachers (maybe they could have worked less hard and been average teachers, but that's not what they wanted) and both of them were completely worn down by the end of their careers. Pep, you can either listen to me or you can ignore this advice, it doesn't make much difference to my life one way or another, but I am telling you with your best interests at heart: If you don't want to work such long hours, don't come and work as a teacher in the UK. Stay in Germany. If you want, I'll ask my friend who has worked in Germany and England to tell you about her experiences of teaching over here (I can't promise you that she'll agree, but I can try...)
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    johnfinch wrote:
    I watched my Mum and Stepdad get home, make a meal and then go upstairs and do marking, planning and paperwork the whole evening for years until they finally retired last year. Both of them were very successful teachers (maybe they could have worked less hard and been average teachers, but that's not what they wanted) and both of them were completely worn down by the end of their careers. Pep, you can either listen to me or you can ignore this advice, it doesn't make much difference to my life one way or another, but I am telling you with your best interests at heart: If you don't want to work such long hours, don't come and work as a teacher in the UK. Stay in Germany. If you want, I'll ask my friend who has worked in Germany and England to tell you about her experiences of teaching over here (I can't promise you that she'll agree, but I can try...)

    This is the reality in the UK. It is not a job where you have much control over your workload as most of it is heavily prescribed. Other countries are not as bad as the UK. In Ireland teachers get similar results to the UK with a lot less pointless bureaucracy and work a lot less hours. Just be careful.
  • jawoogajawooga Posts: 530
    Not knocking the profession at all, my mum was a secondary teacher, but 60 hours as a standard week is a gross exaggeration imo - it'd be sitting down at 6 and working straight through to 10.30 5 nights a week.

    ironically, I think your maths are wrong. that would be 5 x 16.5 = 76.5hr no?

    Something like 7am to 5pm straight through, or equivalent 10hr day, plus 2hr every night is about right and is 60 per week. Most teachers i know have a day at the weekend also catching up. My sister in law was considering reducing to 4 days a week so she could have an unpaid day marking! - English is core subject with loads of kids.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    No, 6 til half 10 is 4.5 hours, multiply by 5 is 22 hours, then add that on to the normal working week.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
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