Teachers who switched to teaching from other jobs

Today, I caught up with 4 students from last year’s fulltime group over lunch. One of them, before joining the teacher education programme, had already completed a management trainee programme with a major company and had a promising career future before her. Yet, she quit her job, and applied to the PGDE programme, hoping that one day she could find meaning working in the teaching profession.

As usual, this afternoon over lunch, I asked her whether she regretted the change having worked as a real-life teacher for 8 months. It is my usual practice to pose this question to former students who have worked in other fields, because I know the (harsh) realities of working in a school today may not match their previous expectations especially if they have aspired to find meaning and purpose in the work of teaching.

So, I was delighted when this former student told me she was sure she had made the right decision. When I probed further and asked her why she was standing by her previous decision despite the heavy stress of being a teacher today, her answer did not come as a big surprise: “It is gratifying when I see my students are learning and making progress, and that I can have an influence on their lives.”

Many young adults enter teaching out of a desire to do good for other people’s children. We should cherish their altruism. Let us remember that and create a school environment in which they can continue to find meaning and purpose in their work.

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