To Teach or Not To Teach by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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This is a reflective blog about careers.

Most teachers will agree, that our inherent ability to serve/help others is part and parcel of the characteristics usually found in ‘those who teach.’

But what if you were not a teacher? And what if you were not involved with education? What else would you do? How else would you use your teacher qualities?

What Else?

How else would you use your ‘teaching skills’ in another profession? For me, this is a difficult question to answer, as from the tender age of 19, all I’ve ever known is the classroom in my professional working life. For others, the answer may be much easier to find for those who entered into teaching via industry and prior employment.

When I was just 15 years old, I remember my interview with a careers advisor. At the time, the support given was a mere, one-off conversation where I discussed my interests, and the person behind the table completed a carbon-copy script of what I said and what they would advise. Then, after one entire lesson out of class, off I went with paper in hand and returned to my studies ready for the world of work!

Thankfully, careers guidance is a little more sophisticated than what is once was for me in 1988, but it is by no-means perfect in schools today. I personally think many students are far too young to determine their future, plus pressure on schools to offer a set curriculum in return for a measured performance on progress, ensures many key issues in schools are squeezed out of the curriculum. Issues such as career guidance, finance management, mental health and physical, mental and drug abuse would certainly have benefited my own circle of friends at an early (adult) age. Unfortunately, key aspects we all encounter in life, such as a finding a mortgage, balancing finances, travelling abroad, bereavement or something simple as relationships are often untaught and left for us all to discover in our own adult journeys.

Teaching was not top of my careers list at 16 years old. I barely knew who I was, never-mind knowing what career path I wanted to take! But, what would I have done if I had never become a teacher? What would you do?

Not Teaching:

Well, top of the list were the following – which I assume appears at some point of some teenage boys’ career-lists 20-30 years ago;

  1. Footballer
  2. Lawyer
  3. Astronaut
  4. Graphic Designer

The list above are the first careers I can recall being very interested in pursuing from the age of 10. How many are similar to teaching? How many offer a level of care and service for others (such as teaching does)?

At around the age of 18, my interest in design and teaching heightened and became much more pinpointed. I knew I enjoyed reading design, manufacturing and producing a range of products in a wide range of materials to fulfil design problems. I loved solving everyday issues and looking at design as a means to make people’s lives better. I also knew I loved being around and working with younger children which was mostly an experience I encountered frequently with my parents’ work …

Solving problems + serving = teaching.

Having missed out on a first-choice place at Loughborough University to read design and industry, I headed off to London to study design and education at Goldsmiths College on a 4-year BAEd. I wonder how much of this alternative path has determined my own aspirations and career …

@TeacherToolkit teaching

If I take a moment to look at my own family, my parents devoted a lifetime of service to The Salvation Army, working with homeless men, women and children in hostels all over the UK. My mother is the 3rd Salvation Army generation to ‘serve others’ and although I’m now no longer practising, my siblings and I are the fourth generation. Note, two of my three brothers are police officers, serving their local communities.

Am I a teacher because of the ‘social-services’ nature of the profession? Is teaching in my blood? Or have I entered into teaching because my career evolved due to various signposts in my life?

What do you think? How did you become a teacher and if you didn’t teach, what would you do instead?

(This is my first blog written from a mobile device, so there will be some inaccuracy.)

@TeacherToolkit food technology

Setting up for a Food Technology lesson after securing £300,000 funding to have a new catering classroom installed at school … (2010)

8 thoughts on “To Teach or Not To Teach by @TeacherToolkit

    1. I spent 10 years not teaching as a headteacher. I have now returned to the classroom and find that there is nothing more pleasurable (and tiring) than teaching. I recommend it to any head out there!

  1. Pingback: To Teach or Not To Teach by @TeacherToolkit | Uxbridge College Teaching and Learning
  2. I guess what I am doing right now – volunteering, intervention teaching, teacher advisor, studying new skills. It doesn’t match what I did prior to my PGCE but I do think there is always something out there. It’s a choice whatever job you do or role you play.

  3. I think, if I were brave enough, I’d have been some sort of (failing) performer. I avoided it because my sister, who was a fantastic actress, tried to forge a career for years, and despite being very talented, didn’t make much of a living from it. Hence, I chose the next best thing and get to perform in our edutainment age of teaching every day 🙂

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