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Return to Teaching

Getting back into teaching is not as difficult as you may think. Every year around 8,000 people return to the profession after a career break. You may have devoted your time to raising a family or volunteering abroad or maybe you miss the buzz of the corridors after retirement. Whatever your reason your experience is invaluable. No matter what may have changed in policy and practice: learning is learning and students will always need supportive teachers. If you are interested in returning to teaching and don’t know where to start this article seeks to outline how to take the first steps. 

Confidence is usually the biggest barrier to returning to the classroom and the simplest to overcome. Do you remember worrying as the end of the summer holidays loomed? Can I teach? Can I control a class? And yet, by break-time on the first day back this feeling became a distant memory as your natural affinity with students and your teaching skills took over and your concerns dissolved. 

Primary pupils and teacher playing with pots

It is common after a pro-longed absence from teaching you will feel insecure.  This is only natural. The best way to overcome this feeling is to get back into school. You may wish to volunteer at a local school. This is useful as it provides you with up to date experience without the pressure of a full teaching load. You are able to observe teaching and learning and be able to make informed judgements about your own skills gaps. 

Another great way to improve your confidence is to register with an agency as a general, day to day supply teacher. If you are interested in phase-switching or a change in subject specialism this can give you an insight into what this change may feel like whilst using your behaviour management and assessment for learning skills set, knowing that is only short term. 

Often returning teachers worry about skills gaps. As a reflective practitioner you may realise that you need a refresher in subject knowledge. The wealth of information on the web is a great place to start. The Government website provides examples of programmes of study for the relevant curriculum area and the key stage. Many schools also publish programmes of study so you can compare your practice to current practice by looking at a selection of these resources. The Government also offers refresher training courses for certain subjects, www.gov.uk/guidance/teacher-subject-specialism-training-courses. It is also worth browsing TES and Guardian Education blogs, podcasts and articles to gain an understanding of current priorities within education. 

children presenting in class

The training department at Career Teachers offers a bespoke course for those wishing to return to teaching after a prolonged gap. The training involves a combination of skills training including positive behaviour management and interactive whiteboard training; subject knowledge updates in the teaching of Phonics, EAL and assessment for learning; as well as an opportunity to talk through your concerns and doubts with an experienced teacher who – like you - has spent time in their career working in and out of schools. The training also includes the opportunity to work on interview skills and offers support for trial lesson planning and preparation. 

One of the best things about being a teacher is that it is a skill that is with you for life. It is a profession that does not discriminate after career breaks and schools embrace the opportunity to work with professionals that have life experience beyond the classroom. 

If you would like more information about Career Teachers 'Return to Teaching' course then please email ceriwarwickittu@careerteachers.co.uk our Training Co-ordinator.