Being a teacher

Being a successful teacher requires a broad combination of skills, attributes and qualifications as well as passion and commitment.

What do you need to succeed?

Teaching needs enthusiasm and creativity. You need to genuinely want the best for all your pupils and have the ability to prepare and deliver lessons that are relevant, interesting and accessible.

Teaching’s challenging too – from the first time you stand in front of a class until your very last lesson – constantly pushing you to find new and inventive ways to present your specialist subjects.

So what do teachers do all day?

Schools in Scotland follow Curriculum for Excellence. Within that overall framework, each teacher must plan and deliver lessons to suit the needs of all the pupils in their class.
With a focus on learning that’s based around real-life contexts, lessons should be interesting, meaningful and memorable. As well as planning and delivering lessons, teachers also:

  • work with other teachers across the school
  • evaluate each student’s progress and mark their work
  • maintain good behaviour in the classroom
  • discuss progress with parents and carers
  • organise study trips and other events.

How to apply to become a teacher in Scotland

Your route into teaching depends on where you are in your life and your career right now. Here is some information on how to apply to become a teacher in Scotland. Find out how to apply

Kate Riddell – History Teacher at Hawick High School

“I worked as an administrative assistant before becoming a teacher but found office work tedious and knew I had more to give. I chose teaching because I really enjoyed working with people and wanted to make a difference to young people’s lives.

"Teaching History can sometimes be quite challenging as students often ask why they need to learn about the past. Once I explain the skills they learn in class are invaluable and show how they’re relevant to future jobs then they do get on board.

"I’m enthusiastic and hardworking and I genuinely care about the students. I’m not just their History teacher but also someone they can confide in and come to if they’re worried about anything. If you’re willing to work hard, can time manage well and are committed to young people then I’d recommend teaching to you. It’s an extremely rewarding career."

Chelsea McDonald – Health and Food Technology Teacher at Notre Dame High School

“I originally graduated with an honours degree in Fashion Marketing and worked in retail management. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my years working in the fashion industry, I never felt I had the chance to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. I therefore made the life-changing decision to become a teacher and I have never looked back.

"Being a teacher is an exciting career and brings me a real sense of fulfillment. In teaching Home Economics, you are providing valuable lifelong skills and promoting prospective success for all. It is important to me that every pupil I encounter feels valued. I aim to be a role model, encouraging, motivating and inspiring the pupils to become the best version of themselves. If I can make one small difference to their lives, whether that be academically, socially or personally, then that’s something to be celebrated."

Zoe Storrie – English Teacher at Hillpark Secondary School

“I decided to become a teacher after being involved in volunteer youth work. The experience made me realise how much I enjoyed working with young people. I wanted to combine this enjoyment with being able to share the enthusiasm I have for my subject.

"Teaching English to young people is amazing. I believe it’s a wonderful subject that deals with real world issues in fun and creative ways. As a teacher, you get to explore these fantastic stories as well as helping equip young people with a number of essential skills.

"My advice for anyone considering applying for teacher training would be to go for it! You’re guaranteed to have a whirlwind year in which you’ll need to work possibly harder than ever before, but it’s a hugely exciting and rewarding experience. You’ll be supported the whole way and you’ll make amazing friends, too."

Michael Barker – Chemistry teacher at Hillpark Secondary School

“I discovered I had a passion for teaching when I was working for a year in a biomedical research centre during my Chemistry degree. School pupils often visited to take part in activities with the scientists and it was this that showed me how inspiring it is to teach young people.

"Teaching carries a lot of responsibility but it’s incredibly satisfying. I try to ensure classes are enjoyable so that my students want to develop a thirst for learning. Fun and hard work are what I try to bring to the classroom because fun makes hard work seem easier.

"My advice for anyone considering a teaching career is make sure you’re willing to work hard and have a real passion for your subject. If this is the case then apply for teacher training – the chance to influence so many young people in a positive way is not one you come across every day."

Hayley Richards – Business Studies Teacher at Portobello High School

“I chose teaching because I wanted a job where I did something different every day. I also have a keen interest in young people and keeping them engaged. One of the main things you need to achieve this is enthusiasm. You must be enthusiastic about the subject you teach for pupils to be enthusiastic about it too. It’s also important to have a sense of humour in the classroom as this helps sustain relationships with pupils. Having a good relationship with pupils is a must for teaching. If you get to know them well, this will encourage them to stay engaged.

"If you’re interested in teaching, my advice would be go for it but be prepared for the hard work. The role requires a lot of dedication but the rewards do outweigh any negatives. There is no greater benefit of teaching than seeing pupils progress to achieve their goals and aspirations."

What makes a good teacher?

While every teacher is different, the best share certain attributes:

  • They are enthusiastic specialists in their chosen subjects
  • They are committed to developing each individual child’s full potential
  • They have a good sense of humour
  • They are patient and dedicated.

If that sounds like you, it’s time to become a teacher.

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