Being a teacher


The inside knowledge on being a teacher

Teachers come from all walks of life. And you’ll find lots of different personalities in the staffroom. There are quiet types and extroverts, big ideas people, super organised planners, natural leaders, artists, techies, thinkers, doers, people who get everyone smiling, and others who get everyone involved.

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to being a successful teacher.

So what does it take to be one?

The best teachers are passionate about having a positive impact on a young person’s future. They enjoy being challenged every day and they love sharing their enthusiasm for their specialist subject with their pupils. They’re also intelligent, creative people who can inspire, motivate and have the patience and dedication to help a child be the best they can be.

"The driving force is knowing that the children in the schools I work in, like all children, deserve the very best."Anne Graham – Headteacher at Lochdar and Daliburgh Primary School

Just as there’s no typical teacher, there’s no typical day

As a teacher, you can put your own personality into creating engaging lesson plans for your own classroom’s activities. You can change things up, try new approaches, and keep it evolving. You’ll be guided by Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, but you’ll have lots of scope to find what works for your lessons, and your pupils.

The Curriculum for Excellence places learners at the heart of education. It’s designed as a flexible approach that helps children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes they need for life in the 21st century.

To achieve this, it brings together four key areas:

  • Curriculum areas and subjects
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Ethos and life of the school
  • Opportunities for personal achievement

As well as classroom activities, you’ll evaluate each student’s progress and mark their work and you’ll get to discuss every pupil’s progress with parents and caregivers on a regular basis. So you’re very much part of a team when it comes to helping and supporting each child in your class. Although you’re in charge of your classroom, you’ll also work closely with other teachers right across the school and the support of colleagues is one of the things that teachers say they really value in their day to day work.

Learning isn’t all classroom based – you’ll be able to organise study trips, and events to help pupils really engage with your subject.

Every teacher has their own unique story to tell

There’s a lot to love about being a teacher. So who better to tell you what they enjoy most about their job, and what life is really like as a teacher – than teachers themselves?


"I graduated with a degree in engineering, and was working in sports development and then in sales. I really wanted to challenge myself in an interesting and varied career and I thought ‘what about teaching?’ You need to keep on top of developments, and you’re challenged every day by the great questions young people ask."Stuart Law – Physics and Science Teacher at Douglas Academy
"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. I keep my lessons interesting by trying new things and adapting my plans to the needs of the children."Josie Burgess – Gàidhlig teacher at Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu/Glasgow Gaelic School
"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."Mary Osei-Oppong – Business Education and ICT Teacher at Brannock High School
"There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing pupils instinctively use the knowledge or skills you gave them. 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."Rachel O’Connor – Home Economics Teacher at St Kentigern’s Academy
"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."Zoe Halliday – Geography Teacher at Douglas Ewart High School

Unusual routes into teaching

Some people just know, right from the start, that they want to teach. Others take a little longer to discover their true vocation. Either way, you can bring your talents and skills to the world of teaching. All life experience is valuable as a teacher. And the profession as a whole is richer for the diverse backgrounds that teachers come from.

Head to our blogs, to read about three teachers who made the change.

  • You’ll get to meet the Maths Teacher in Airdrie, who gave up a career in private banking after deciding there was a better way to use his numerical and problem-solving skills.
  • There’s the Computing Teacher who switched off her career in IT, to bring her experience of computer science into the classroom at Boroughmuir.
  • And there’s the Chemistry Teacher who gave up life in the lab, to bring a ‘real life’ experience of science to pupils in Kilmarnock.

Share their journeys, and find out how they apply their skills and previous work experience to their current role.

For more teachers’ stories, click here.


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