Do you still enjoy teaching Psychology?

 Do you still enjoy teaching Psychology?
Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 04:37 PM
Joined: 10 June 2008
Posts: 4

Funny title for a discussion I know! But I’ve been away from teaching for a few years having babies (my third and final) and I am now contemplating returning to teaching Psych at A Level. Have checked out the new specs i’m feeling a bit overwhelmed (actually terrified) by the sheer quantity involved?! It just seems like so much content? How do you deliver it all? Ensure understanding? How do the students possibly remember that amount of content for 3 exams one after the other?! I’m wondeing if my heart is still in it, or if it’s just nerves.

So tell me? Do you still love it? Is it still worth it?! Do students still love it? Or is it a relentless slog for all involved?! 

Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 04:30 PM
Joined: 1 November 2007
Posts: 2117

Gosh, loaded questions. I still love teaching the subject as it generates so much interesting discussion and hopefully makes the students just a little more tolerant and questioning of so called "Facts and opinions" My students still love it, I had a large drop in numbers a couple of years ago as Psychology was in the first tranche of changes so the less committed students went for subjects were the AS still counted. Numbers are still lower than before the change but this is because I no longer get the "fourth choice AS because it's sounds fun" student (and to be honest my pass rate at AS has improved significantly)

Students this year are those who had to take linear GCSEs so the idea of 3 exams after two years doesn't worry them. Next year most GSCE subjects will have lost controlled assessment as well so I think the students will be even more prepared.

Having said that the new specs are very content heavy, I went with Edexcel as this seems the least content but there are lots pf application questions and the levels based marking is applied quite harshly (no more "best fit") so the grade boundaries were very low last year. My school no longer offers AS exams so I have gained 6 weeks teaching time which means I can spend more time on exam skills. Paperwork by the school however is the biggest stressor!

I still love the subject and I do think it's worth it BUT at 53 I am beginning to plan an exit route... it's not about the new exams and specs which are settling in but more about the general stress involved with teaching. Much of this is to do with my school though!

Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 08:31 PM
Joined: 10 June 2008
Posts: 4

Thanks Jenny, I really appreciate your candid reply. Food for thought most definitely. It seems a very different world now and I only left in the summer of 2015. Thank you for responding. 

Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 09:28 PM
Joined: 24 November 2008
Posts: 258

Emma I have sent you a private message answering this, it's a bit rambly though so feel free to ignore!

Posted: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 05:37 PM
Joined: 13 January 2009
Posts: 2142

Tough question. I love teaching and I love psychology. But, yes there is far too much content on the new A levels, however terminal exams haven't really been an issue. And I welcome the scrapping of AS as it does leave more time to focus on teaching the A level and doesn't lead to lots of year 12 students feeling like failures because they haven't reached the standard yet.

However, schools in general have changed and not for the better. Micro management and the relentless focus on progress and performance, to the exclusion of all else has left me feeling disillusioned. Luckily, I'm 55 this year, so I've handed in my notice and will semi-retire in July.

Posted: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 05:34 PM
Joined: 10 September 2012
Posts: 41

I still love it! The students always say it is their favourite subject and I enjoy talking to the older ones about their own experiences and what they can bring to the table related to the topics. I think the new AQA spec is a lot clearer and much more relevant than the old one. The textbooks are great too and finding the excellent free resources on here always cuts down my planning time. 

If you find a school that values work life balance then teaching is a joy. But having said that, I do think the relentless performance management culture is getting somewhat ridiculous. Plus I'm also giving up being HOD next year as I feel you're only as good as your last set of results. Lazy colleagues and constant absenteeism in the dept are my main bugbears but I still genuinely enjoy it day to day! 

Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 07:32 AM
Joined: 9 January 2008
Posts: 592

I don't mind it, but that is mainly because I work part-time now. I was putting in 50+ hours a week at my previous school, I was very tired, and on the verge of burn out. I now work at a much smaller independent school, with small classes and a manageable workload. Added to that I also have an exit plan, and run my own business alongside teaching with a view to leaving in a couple of years. This has given me a sense of perspective, there is only so much I can do in a working day, and when I am not at work I am busy with my own stuff.

I wouldn't work full time as a teacher again.

Posted: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 02:11 PM
Joined: 11 February 2011
Posts: 73

I went back part-time (4 days) after having my final baby. I found it really difficult as I was planning Year 2 from scratch and felt I was fitting full time teaching into 4 days. I found it difficult to start with but settled back into it by Oct half term. For various reasons I am leaving my school and have taken up a full time position elsewhere - I’m not 100% sure it’s going to work out for me, again for various reasons, and am already planning an exit route!

I will see how it goes, but I am thinking that I would prefer 3 days KS5 only. I will even consider supply teaching now. I can’t be doing with teaching other subjects and other key stages as well as my enthusiasm is for psychology (and sociology I suppose!) only. I don’t mind too much that I’ll be teaching different topics at my new school as it enhances my overall subject knowledge. But I am thinking that long term I will probably spend fewer days in the classroom and try and do as much private tutoring and examining as I can.

Education has changed so much since I started teaching (2010) and although I love my subject and the majority of the kids I teach, I’m sick of the constant demands from higher up and the lack of funding in schools.

It sounds like it nerves Emma. It was the same with me as I was returning to a completely transformed dept. None of my old colleagues were there anymore and I felt that I had no friends left! I don’t think my line manager really understood how difficult it was for me to return and also I don’t think she or her manager really had the time to care either. The Year 13s were awful both as individuals and academically. I felt an enormous amount of guilt too for leaving my kids (as I had spent a whole year with them) which also didn’t help. The guilt for me is returning as I will be working f/t again, maybe that wasn’t the best decision but I was very unhappy where I was.

If you’ve got a supportive dept/line manager and the kids you will be teaching are lovely, then I honestly don’t think you should be worried about going back. Just give it a good few weeks before you feel back in the swing of things again.

Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 02:25 PM
Joined: 18 September 2009
Posts: 585

, I understannd the point about pressures and so on, but it is still a great subject to teach. Yes, spec is more content heavy (AQA) than ever before... but in my experinece, this will reduce in a few years, the AQA usually starts to iron things out when the spec gets going. I do still enjoy teaching Psych, think it must be one of the best subjects to teach at A level. Yes, no longer get the big groups though, due to A level changes. But not complaining about that!!

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 @ 03:17 PM
Joined: 23 April 2009
Posts: 57

I used to easily teach the old spec AQA / OCR by Christmas, allowing time for consolidation and reasonable exam practice. Now I am worrying all the time, having taught for almost 20 years, in Sixth form colleges, FE and Schools. Working P/t was a joke as I was cramming it all in those few days, so I went full time after having my 2. However cost wise I do not see a lot of my pay, I do finish early enough to enjoy my children. I have had no progress in my role as I am just loaded with marking planning & assessments 24/7. With cuts our trips are less encouraged and I have retrained and run my own sports business on the side. I find the new spec great to teach if you have the time to nurture your resources. Though I am not due to finish until end of April. Also I still have yet to get the SOW the right way around and plan all my A level assessments in line with the school year. 

But the community of teachers has grown and is the most supportive it has ever been - this keeps me going. Job wise I have notice a drop this year in TLRs and given that we do more than some 2ics as HODs on a much higher TLR it seems very unfair. If you go back maybe try an independent school, negotiate for at least 4.5k if you are a HOD -  there will be better job security perhaps and more investment. You can always do a contract role and see how that works out. Good luck. 

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 @ 04:36 PM
Joined: 10 June 2008
Posts: 4

Thanks all. I really appreciate the insight and tips. I definitely think some of my concern is nerves (and of course leaving my babies!). I’m going to be positive and see if I can secure a role and just give it a go. I can’t imagine doing anything else and do really miss the students so I’m hoping I’ll soon get the hang of the new specs! 

Thank you all for taking the time to respond. Hopefully I’ll be back on here a lot more from September! Just have to find a job now ????, I’m not in the easiest location!