| Case Studies

Leaving My High-Powered Job to Teach Part Time

Cohort: September 2019 – June 2020  

Region: South East England

Subject: Maths

After graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering and an MBA, John enjoyed a 35-year career in international business before retraining as a maths teacher. 

My career did not follow a detailed plan. I always sought to develop and to accept responsibilities and challenges. I would say to anyone considering making the switch to teaching that you should embrace change and remember that it is a significant commitment. Therefore, you should invest the time to learn everything you need to know about teaching your subject and visit some schools to get a flavour of what it is like leading a classroom full of students. 

One of the reasons I’m working at my current school is because they were open to me working part time. I would advise other teachers to make sure they ask about it in a constructive way.

Joining Now Teach

In my previous career, I worked with three different companies, initially as a Civil Engineer, and then I moved into the areas of Finance, General Management and Company Leadership. In my 50s, I was yearning for change and wanted to give something back, so I started looking into teaching. Even though I had developed a strong interest in teaching from helping my three children prepare for their exams and tutoring mathematics, I did not take the decision to become a teacher lightly. I first spoke to several teachers, headmasters and spent time observing in two local schools.

I did not see a clear route into teaching until I came across Now Teach through Lucy Kellaway’s TED Talk. They helped me secure a training position at Reach Academy Feltham supported by ARK Teacher Training. The approach of training in school with external support and the four-day timetable suited me.

As part of my training, I did Ark’s summer school in August 2019, which was an intensive but enjoyable two-week course. It covered many different aspects of teaching, but the one I found the most valuable was how to handle challenging student behaviour. I found the advice on remaining calm and knowing when to reach out to colleagues for support particularly helpful.

Securing a part-time teaching job

One of the reasons I’m working at my current school is because they were open to me working part time. Having been lucky enough to do a compressed training course, I didn’t want to return to a five-day working week, so I researched different schools to see if they offered part-time roles. I would advise other teachers to make sure they ask about it in a constructive way during the interview. 

I currently just teach maths, but next year, I hope to also teach GCSE business studies, which is very closely aligned with my previous career. Working part time has enabled me to maintain a healthy work-life balance and spend more time with my family.

I have always kept track of how much time I spend doing tasks, such as lesson planning or marking assessments, to make sure I’m using my time effectively. Between that and my time in the classroom, I work an average of 45 hours per week. I normally work one hour each evening at home and two to three hours at the weekend. 

My key learnings

After a few years of teaching now, I can say that it has been a rewarding experience. I love being challenged and teaching has given me a whole new lease of life. I am not worried about going into an environment where I’m not an expert or doing something new that I have never done before. It actually gives me an adrenaline rush. 

I have certainly had tough days along the way where I couldn’t get the IT system to work, or my lesson didn’t go as planned. However, one thing I have learned over the past two years is that there is no such thing as a perfect lesson. You can spend hours and hours planning, but it won’t make much difference to the result. I spend a lot less time planning my lessons now than I did when I first started teaching because I have seen what works and what doesn’t.  

John is one of many Now Teachers who teach part time. Read about Peter Jerrom’s story of how he also made a success of part-time working giving him more time with his children. 

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