Unlocking the experience of teachers
The piles of paperwork, inspectors and the daily tasks of life as a teacher can sometimes mean that their skills outside of a lesson plan are overlooked. This shouldn’t be the case though as it’s the expertise of these members of staff that could actually hold the key to success. Schools across the country are filled with teachers of exceptional quality and life experience and these attributes should be celebrated in lessons. Many teachers have had previous careers in industry and are able to offer valuable and interesting insights into careers, training and what it’s like to work. By opening pupils’ eyes to the wider world, the seeds of possibilities on leaving school can be planted and it can really help to put a child on a career path.
So how do teachers do this? The simple answer is there’s a whole world of possibilities to engage youngsters, but top tips include talking about exciting, risky or juicy stories that they’ve had in a previous role. Many young people see teachers as authoritative and stern characters and pupils are rarely let into their world. By allocating specific time to letting young people find out more about the previous experience of a teacher to help with career choices, barriers will often come down and the dynamics in the room change. This works especially well if they can tell them about things they’ve done in the past that are really impressive. This could include working with celebrities, doing a skydive, fundraising for charity or just talking about life before teaching.
How to approach things
- Be honest, but don’t overstep the mark in terms of using inappropriate stories or language
- Allow a group discussion rather than a lecture from the front of the class
- Move down to sit at their level to break down traditional teacher/pupil barriers
- Offer advice, but don’t tell them what they should be doing for a career
- Be helpful and proactive if students take an interest in the topic and offer to find them extra resources or put them in touch with a careers service
- Encourage them to do work experience as it will give them a real sense of what the world of work is like.
My school doesn’t have the time or confidence to implement this
Don’t worry. There’s a wealth of external providers in the UK that can provide inspiration into schools, whether that be in the form of talks or interactive workshops. Some schools embrace industry experts coming into the classroom and get young people really thinking about what they’re going to do when they leave school, while others prefer their pupils to be learning through industry workshops. The main thing to remember is that no matter what budgets schools are working to, there are always opportunities to expand pupil horizons, even if there’s no funding there at all.