Primary school teacher

Changing careers to become a teacher? Read these tips on entering the profession

Are you considering a career change to teaching? It may be daunting to make a career change at any stage, but you will find many fulfilling surprises and advantages to joining the teaching profession as a mature aged graduate.

We recently caught up with Toby Graham, who at 48, recently decided to join the teaching profession. If you’re considering a career change or studying to become a teacher, read Toby’s story for insights on taking on this new challenge.

Consider your inspiration for becoming a teacher

“Before I began my Masters of Primary Education, I was a hospitality manager, which is quite far afield from the teaching profession.

“The inspiration to become a primary teacher came from the hope that I could teach children who still had a sense of wonder in the world. The idea of being part of the process where students are introduced to new knowledge and concepts for the very first time resonated with me.

“Alongside this I have support from close family members, who are teachers themselves. With their help and knowledge of their experiences, the basic aspects of the profession were quite familiar to me.”

Speak with experienced teachers to manage your expectations

“With this perception I came into the profession with the expectation that the workload would be quite demanding, especially for the first few years. However I’m hopeful this becomes much more manageable as my experience increases and I develop my own resources.

“I discovered that teaching involves the need to constantly be in the moment, requiring I let go of some of the autonomy that my previous profession offered. This change is a unique challenge for me, paired with the pressure to keep lessons engaging for students.

“Despite some challenges of starting as a mature aged student, the experience of being a parent is an unquestionable advantage for me. Familiarity with children boosts my confidence, teaching in a primary classroom.”

Seek out a mentor to understand daily teaching challenges

“I’m fortunate to have very generous and insightful mentors. Having such excellent examples of educators in my life, helps develop my own behaviour management techniques and lesson delivery.

“I always advise others looking to join the profession to seek out experienced mentor teachers. Sit down with them and have a conversation about their day-to-day challenges, then imagine yourself in these situations. This can help you begin to evaluate if you have the necessary temperament for the profession.”

What works for me?

“Certain aspects of teaching, such as the holidays and connection with students, can be a big draw card for teaching students. However, the effort of managing disruptive behaviour can impact people differently is more stressful for different personality types. What helps me is constantly developing and adjusting strategies to manage this personally, to help create a classroom that I look forward to going to everyday.

“For me it all comes back to the idea that I will get to help students while they are still forming their sense of self. It is such a unique and rewarding aspect of the profession. Being an encouraging guide for students, to help them believe nothing is beyond them or too hard is a key factor to my life changing decision. Hopefully it serves as an inspiration for you as well!”

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Are you a newly qualified teacher or simply looking for a new teaching role? Make sure to read our resources to help secure your next teaching position.