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 is challenging too. From the first time you stand in front of a class until your very last lesson – you’ll be constantly pushing 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

Josie Burgess - Gàidhlig teacher at Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu/Glasgow Gaelic School

“I had considered a career in teaching for quite some time, from my early years at secondary school. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to be in a career where I could inspire people to achieve their potential, but I also wanted to help young people realise the value and worth of speaking Gàidhlig.

"Teaching Gàidhlig can be challenging, because not all pupils share the same interest in the subject and there are varying levels of ability, too. That being said, I want my pupils to achieve good grades in their qualifications, and I want them to look back on the time they spent in my classroom as being useful, valuable and an enjoyable learning experience.

"I keep my lessons interesting by trying new things and adapting my plans to the needs of the children. It’s important, too, that I use my own strengths and areas of interest in my teaching – lessons tend to be more engaging that way. I particularly enjoy teaching my own favourite pieces of literature to classes."

Carrie Thomson - Curricular Leader of Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (RMPS) and Social Subjects at Liberton High School

“I wake up every morning looking forward to going to work. I love teaching RMPS, it’s all about the holistic development of young people and it’s a chance for the students to hear different viewpoints, beliefs and opinions, and to analyse and evaluate them.

"Teaching takes dedication and compassion. Some of the smartest people I know are teachers and they made the decision to do so because they knew they wanted to help young people.

"For me, the thing I want to do most of all is make a difference. I want to be the teacher who makes a change for the young people who are having a difficult time. I want to be the teacher who challenges young people to achieve their potential.

"Seeing a pupil have a ‘light bulb moment’, achieving something that they thought was impossible, or simply seeing that they are excited to see you after the summer break makes teaching so rewarding."

Mary Osei-Oppong – Business Education and ICT Teacher at Brannock High School

“I wanted to be a teacher from a young age. I knew I could help young people to better themselves and felt my work would have purpose. As a Business and ICT teacher, I cover a variety of subjects including Business Management, Administration, IT and Tourism. I teach pupils to be enterprising and develop practical skills for creating and running businesses while acquiring ICT skills.

"Every year brings new classes which inspires me to find new ways of teaching as no two classes are the same. Planning and preparation are vital. I plan lessons well and set high standards for my pupils and myself. Seeing young people achieving and learning new skills motivates me to improve. In my work I want to continue to give quality education and, as a black teacher of African origin, I want to see diversity in the teaching profession. I believe I have to help young people to be the best they can be."

Rachel O’Connor – Home Economics Teacher at St Kentigern’s Academy

“I chose teaching as I wanted to work with young people and make a difference. I always bring enthusiasm and passion for my subject which I pass to my pupils. I want them to learn, become independent and use the life skills I’ve taught them. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing pupils instinctively use the knowledge or skills you gave them.

"I had a brilliant experience of Home Economics at school and my teacher encouraged me to go into teaching. It’s a fun and fast paced subject which encourages you to be creative. For example, old recipes can be adapted and new ones invented. Lessons give pupils a sense of achievement as they have a final product at the end.

"If you’re thinking of becoming a teacher I’d say do it! If you're passionate about your subject, and you want to make a difference to young people’s lives then teaching is definitely for you."

Zoe Halliday – Geography Teacher at Douglas Ewart High School

“I love teaching Geography. It’s a modern subject that’s relevant to pupils, covering topics such as climate change, and it teaches pupils to have a respect for their natural environment and shows them the vast timeline of the world. I enjoy the time with pupils, exploring my subject and encouraging them to be enthusiastic about it.

"I want to help my pupils succeed and get as much out of school as possible. I run after-school clubs three nights a week and contribute to wider school events. I think it’s great for pupils to see their teachers taking a genuine interest in them and their lives, not just their performance in the classroom.

"There are lots of opportunities for career progression in teaching and to keep challenging yourself. It’s the kind of job that if you want to keep learning then you can. Every day is different when you are working with young people."

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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