Secondary school teacher and a pupil

A day in the life of a Secondary School Teacher

Are you thinking of applying for Secondary School Teacher jobs? Use your passion for teaching and working with young people aged 11-16 to follow this career path.

Before deciding if this is the right choice for you, it is worth hearing from someone who is already in the role to get a behind the scenes perspective. We interviewed Secondary School Drama Teacher, Andrew, to find out more.

How long have you been a Secondary Teacher?

Almost 21 years. I was at the same school for 13 years and then I went into theatre directing. In the past few years I’ve been working as a supply teacher with Career Teachers.

What did you do before you were a Teacher?

I was an actor for about 11 or 12 years and there was a bit of an overlap with teaching.

Why did you choose to be a Teacher?

Things were quite challenging with acting and I wanted something more secure. Drama is a passion and I wanted to continue to practice but obviously teaching is very different. The knowledge is helpful from when I worked in theatre, but the skills are very different.

What was your qualification route?

I did a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in drama at Bretton Hall College, Yorkshire and I did a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at Goldsmiths in south east London.

Can you talk us through a typical day as a Secondary School Teacher?

It's quite intensive! You spend between half past eight and three o'clock in the zone, where you're on the go completely. You'd be teaching lessons of various different units of work, depending on the year group. After the students go home, you run one or two after school clubs for each year group. You also have school productions or exam rehearsals that you would attend after school as well. I found that with any kind of written work and planning, I'd be doing most of it on a Sunday afternoon. As a Drama Teacher, it sometimes dominates your life, but it's also something that, if you're passionate about the subject like I am, then it's something you can really get your teeth into. I learnt as each year went by to find ways of managing my time and energy better. So, I would stay in school till six, and I wouldn't take any homework home with me during the week. I tried to get everything out of the way during normal office hours where I could.

What are the best bits about being a Secondary School Teacher?

Well that's easy, as a Drama Teacher you get to watch theatre for free.

What is your least favourite about being a Secondary School Teacher?

Teaching drama in particular, like any kind of Performing Arts subject, you're giving a little bit of yourself when you're participating in it. One of the biggest challenges is trying to help students who don't feel comfortable, trying to create an atmosphere in the room where people will show their work, and are happy enough to do that. You've always got students who are very comfortable in front of people, some who are a bit in-between and then others who just really don't enjoy it. They do enjoy what they're doing, they just don't necessarily enjoy doing it in front of an audience of twenty of their peers.

What skills do you think you have developed by being a Secondary School Teacher that you wouldn't have gained elsewhere?

Directing plays and doing quite big productions, and some quite small ones as well.

How has your role changed in the last year due to Covid-19? 

In terms of drama work, the pupils can't learn properly when wearing masks, so they don’t wear them. When I've covered other lessons, the mask wearing can get in the way, because sometimes it's hard to hear somebody properly. I was quite nervous getting back into the classroom in the autumn, because I wondered what the behaviour was going to be like, but the kids have shown themselves to be very adaptable in following guidelines.

How do you inspire pupils to want to learn? 

Well, I think you've got to come across as wanting to be there yourself, even if you've got other things going on in the back of your mind. And then of course as a Cover Supervisor, it becomes progressively more of a challenge because you're often teaching other subjects. Sometimes you're given a lesson plan where you really do need to make an effort to teach with enthusiasm and show some commitment to it. It may sound very basic, but they can smell it if you're not into it.

Do you have any plans for additional qualifications or career progression?

I'm still considering whether to go back to teaching longer term or whether to go back to theatre. So, in the meantime I have applied for a couple of Master of Arts (MA) courses.

What advice would you give to newcomers or those considering this job?

As Teacher, I would say trying to exude a degree of confidence in yourself is important. Manage your work-life balance, and if you're looking for a career in teaching, then be open to learning more about developments in education.

Would you recommend your job to a friend?

Yes, if you enjoy working with young people and you can manage all the things that I've mentioned, as the job spills over into your life. You occasionally get poor behaviour, but it is very rewarding.

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This interview is an excellent insight into being a Secondary School Teacher, where Andrew’s passion for drama has translated into a teaching career. If you’re looking to go into teaching, consider what your preferred subject would be so that you can share your passion with the young people you teach.

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