Bulletin for the Network of Establishing Teachers (NETs) 18 October 2012. The bulletin is published as an information update for teachers who are members of the the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) and are in their first 10 years of teaching.
Career pathways for teachers
One of the great things about the teaching profession is that there is a big wide world of education out there and plenty of opportunities to put your skills to use in different ways.
When beginning your career though, it’s sometimes hard to get your head above the parapet and see what these options are. Below are some of the options that you could consider.
Schools are obliged to advertise these roles in the Education Gazette when a position becomes vacant, but sometimes there are in-school processes when roles like dean are on a cycle, and often applications are asked for by the principal in September or October of the year before it starts.
You could try taking on leadership roles in a curriculum area – from the teacher-in-charge role which typically is in a smaller subject area like physics or media studies, where you might be the only teacher, to the head of department job, which usually involves leading a team of teachers.
What you need: to be passionate and knowledgeable about your subject area, and willing and able to manage other staff.
Responsibilities: managing your subject area’s curriculum and assessment, crunching data, performance management and development for your staff, some school-wide responsibilities too.
Rewards: typically 1-4 management units (which are worth $4000 a year and come with one hour a week release time) and/or 1-2 middle management allowances (which are worth $1000 a year).
Another route that many teachers take, sometimes in conjunction with curriculum leadership, is in connection with the pastoral side of the school, i.e. student welfare and behaviour management. This is sometimes called ‘deaning’ or being a ‘tutor teacher’ or the like.
What you need: to be interested in student well-being and properly understand the school culture and practices about student management. Typically, if you enjoy and are good at being a form/tutor teacher this will be a role that suits you.
Responsibilities: typically the pastoral care of a large group of students, a year-group or house. You will work with other staff and people outside school, sometimes like the police or CYFS, and develop and implement individual education plans (IEPs) for students who need support.
Rewards: typically 1-3 management units and/or 1-2 MMAs.
Other specialist roles in school
These sorts of roles typically take you out of the classroom either entirely (in the case of a guidance counsellor) or a little, in the case of a specialist classroom teacher. For guidance counsellors, who also need to be registered teachers, there is specialist training that you will undertake, sometimes after you have been appointed to the position. The skills required and rewards for these roles vary greatly.
These days it is increasingly common for highly-motivated and talented teachers to progress quickly into senior leadership roles, though you often need to be willing to move around a lot and to parts of the country that are more difficult to staff. Assistant-principal, deputy-principal and even principal jobs are now sometimes filled by teachers who have barely reached the top of the base scale.
Undertaking further study or participating in the National Aspiring Principals Programme can assist with this sort of thing. These jobs can be well remunerated and very rewarding, but are generally stressful and massively time-consuming.