Teaching is the glue that holds our society together. Those who choose to dedicate their lives to teaching do substantially more than impart academic material; they instil values, they inspire, they show others the value of learning. When we think of teachers, most of us picture a well-dressed individual at the front of a packed class of children. But there are numerous faces of the teaching profession, and many different paths you can take if you’re interested in teaching but want nothing to do with a traditional classroom environment.
There are a lot of reasons why you might find yourself turning away from the prospect of mainstream teaching. Many teachers have become disillusioned with the profession due to the wide-ranging problems within the industry, from limited funding to restrictive curricula. Others may simply not be seduced by day-to-day experiences of full-time teachers and want more flexibility in their lifestyle. Whatever your personal reasons for looking to stray from the beaten track in your teaching goals, here are a few ways you can jazz up the teaching narrative you’ve been sold thus far.
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A lot of people spend time working as classroom assistants with the aim of establishing whether to go the full way and become teachers. But this role is more than just a stepping stone. Never underestimate the importance of an assistant within a teaching environment. A second adult presence can do wonders for helping teachers keep control of a classroom, particularly if certain students are in need of extra support.
As a classroom assistant, you can apply your skills within many different contexts.You might choose to go abroad and become a language assistant, for example. The advantage of this avenue is that minimal qualifications are required, and you will often be hired on a part-time basis, meaning you can get plenty of exploring in while being able to support yourself financially. What’s not to love?
Another job you can do from pretty much anywhere is private tutoring. Thanks to the explosion that the online tutoring industry has seen since the pandemic, all you need to earn a lucrative living in teaching these days is a laptop and wifi connection and you’re good to go! The tutoring industry is populated by an enormous range of people, all with different reasons for pursuing a tutoring path.
Many tutors teach alongside their studies, while others choose to make it a full-time career. Numerous ex-teachers have reported turning away from the classroom in favour of one-to-one teaching. What these tutors have in common is a desire for flexibility and autonomy within their work; private tutoring offers both in spades, not to mention the immense gratification of providing students with an alternative means of learning.
Teaching adult classes
Hand-in-hand with tutoring comes group teaching – but not the kind that takes place in schools! We’re talking about teaching classes for adults with the aim of helping them unwind, find new hobbies and have fun. You might be teaching sports, yoga, pottery or any number of skills you’re passionate about sharing with others.
People’s search for ways to fill their precious free time forms a substantial market, meaning you can very easily go freelance and set your own hours. With the ever growing demand within the leisure and self-improvement industries, your options are limitless and you will be able to find students for pretty much any skill you have and can teach.
If a classroom isn’t calling to you, but you’ve always liked the idea of teaching others about history and heritage, a museum might be the perfect stop for you. Museum education is a great way of honing your teaching skills and working within a niche that stimulates you.
This might come in the form of delivering tours for adults or perhaps teaching groups of school children within a museum, gallery or cultural institution. Helping the public access relics, archives, or whatever else might inhabit this space, is a wonderfully fulfilling path. So, if you’re passionate about engaging learners and bringing the past alive, this could be the ideal role for you.
Straying even further from the beaten track, why not start a podcast or youtube channel that educates people about a topic you’re passionate about? More often than not, teachers love their specialist subject but feel weighed down by the obligation to communicate this love to a roomful of young people who may or may not have the slightest bit of interest in it.
With podcasting you can sidestep all that and rest peacefully in the knowledge that those who are listening to you are genuinely excited to be doing so. True, it’s an entrepreneurial undertaking with various marketing and growth imperatives if you’re hoping to make a living out of it. But the gratification of teaching those who share your passion and curiosity is a great incentive to get creative and try something new, even if you do have to do a bit of hustling.
Teaching your own children
And finally, we have a homegrown option for all the stay-at-home parents out there. The fact is that you don’t have to be a teacher in a professional capacity in order to teach. Demonstrate your respect for teaching by being sure to teach your own children in a way that reflects your values.
This might come in the form of homeschooling – which, incidentally, does not require any formal qualifications – but more often than not, it’s simply about transmitting ideas that matter within your everyday family life. Teaching our children how to be curious, empathetic people is the backbone of a strong and supportive society. So teaching might not be your official job but, really, any parent who intends to raise their children in an informed and productive manner is a teacher at heart.
(Feeling warm and fuzzy yet?)
Let me count the ways…
So if you’ve always been curious about teaching but, for whatever reason, never quite made it to the classroom, don’t let that stop you! Teaching really is for anyone and there are so many ways to explore the educational realm and become the teacher you know you can be, with or without a school setting.