The Student Room Group

What is it like being a secondary school physics teacher?

I am a undergraduate physics student, going into last year this September. I am thinking to become a teacher since it is the most and quick and stable job I can get with a physics degree and I know physics teachers are in very high shortage. The salary seems good for London area (not getting into it just for the money but let's be blunt I need to survive somehow and no teacher at least struggles with bills at least let's clarify that, mostly because the stability that the job offers and the fact that physics specialism has so much shortage means less competition and I want to be set with my career very young in life.)

After some research I am super worried about stories of teachers working 60+ and some even 80 hours a week. Are these stories actually true or are these just extreme cases? I like the profession and I believe I do have the qualities needed to be a good teacher and the passion for the physics subject that I want to teach...but the insane hours and workload that teachers claim to do and most of all the fear of not having time to spend with family and being like a slave working tiredlessly every single day is what hold me back. In a nutshell, money is not my concern at all, but more not having enough time to dedicate to my family. Is good worklife balance possible for an AVERAGE physics teacher, because that is one of the things that I value the most in a profession.
Original post by ashfak.
I am a undergraduate physics student, going into last year this September. I am thinking to become a teacher since it is the most and quick and stable job I can get with a physics degree and I know physics teachers are in very high shortage. The salary seems good for London area (not getting into it just for the money but let's be blunt I need to survive somehow and no teacher at least struggles with bills at least let's clarify that, mostly because the stability that the job offers and the fact that physics specialism has so much shortage means less competition and I want to be set with my career very young in life.)
After some research I am super worried about stories of teachers working 60+ and some even 80 hours a week. Are these stories actually true or are these just extreme cases? I like the profession and I believe I do have the qualities needed to be a good teacher and the passion for the physics subject that I want to teach...but the insane hours and workload that teachers claim to do and most of all the fear of not having time to spend with family and being like a slave working tiredlessly every single day is what hold me back. In a nutshell, money is not my concern at all, but more not having enough time to dedicate to my family. Is good worklife balance possible for an AVERAGE physics teacher, because that is one of the things that I value the most in a profession.

I have a PhD in Condensed Matter Physics. I taught for a few years before the Pandemic. I left the profession because of the poor pay, high workload and lack of respect by staff, parents and students. I now work as a data scientist for way way more money, less stress, less workload and a much better work life balance :wink:
Reply 2
Original post by ashfak.
I am a undergraduate physics student, going into last year this September. I am thinking to become a teacher since it is the most and quick and stable job I can get with a physics degree and I know physics teachers are in very high shortage. The salary seems good for London area (not getting into it just for the money but let's be blunt I need to survive somehow and no teacher at least struggles with bills at least let's clarify that, mostly because the stability that the job offers and the fact that physics specialism has so much shortage means less competition and I want to be set with my career very young in life.)
After some research I am super worried about stories of teachers working 60+ and some even 80 hours a week. Are these stories actually true or are these just extreme cases? I like the profession and I believe I do have the qualities needed to be a good teacher and the passion for the physics subject that I want to teach...but the insane hours and workload that teachers claim to do and most of all the fear of not having time to spend with family and being like a slave working tiredlessly every single day is what hold me back. In a nutshell, money is not my concern at all, but more not having enough time to dedicate to my family. Is good worklife balance possible for an AVERAGE physics teacher, because that is one of the things that I value the most in a profession.

So there are a few things to pick through.

Do you want to become a teacher for the love of teaching and helping young people, or are you just looking for a job? If the later, forget it. Teaching is a vocation, not a job. It is all consuming and you are either in or out. There is no middle ground. It certainly isn't something you just rock up to, do your thing and then go home.

Regarding workload. If it helps, I am now reaching the end of my 7th year of teaching. In general I don't do any work at home in the evenings. I do get to work an hour early where I do most of my work, but generally speaking manage to get everything done in that time. I work 8-4. In my last school I did 7.30-3.30. That said, I worked like smoke during my PGCE and first year. Then I decided enough was enough and just stopped doing stupid amounts of work. Nothing happened when I did. The kids continued to learn. My PowerPoints just weren't quite as polished. Now I don't bother with PowerPoints - too much work and the kids don't read them anyway.

Finally, being a physics teacher doesn't mean you will only teach physics. This is the biggest con in my view. You will also be expected to teach Biology and Chemistry to GCSE level.

Teaching is amazing and now I am skilled, it is a doddle and I can plan excellent lessons as I am driving into work, but it has taken a lot of effort to get to that point. Go in eyes wide open and do it for the right reasons. If you ask me, people should not be permitted to teach straight after university and should experience life first. That is what I would recommend you do. Then you will have some context.

Good luck!

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