6 signs it might be time to find a new teaching job

What motivates you to look for a new teaching job? This article examines six key reasons for seeking change in your teaching career, whether it's for new opportunities or to find a better work-life balance.

8 mins read
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5 months ago

​Is your teaching role still giving you that 'Love Mondays' feeling? If not, it could be time for a change. Your experience and skills are far too valuable to stagnate in a job that no longer brings you joy.  

It's no secret that teachers are challenged by many circumstances both inside and outside the classroom, and many may wonder about their long-term prospects in the profession.  

Difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers can add pressures on existing staff, and classroom numbers, unruly pupil behaviour, Ofsted visits, and changes to the curriculum all take their toll on teacher wellbeing, which in turn can impact educational standards. 

That said, teaching is still one of the most rewarding careers, in more ways than one: it provides the chance to inspire the next generation, contributes to the success of the wider school community, and is well compensated, with great benefits including a robust pension and several weeks' holiday each year. 

Teachers switch schools or roles for a lot of reasons, but to understand the main motivations, we asked teachers why they would consider looking for pastures new: 

Symptoms of burnout and feeling unsupported 

Everyone deserves fair treatment and to feel valued at work. In the face of relentless pressures such as overwork, it can be challenging for even the most experienced of teachers to maintain professional standards and a positive attitude. A pay rise will not make ever-increasing workloads easier to bear, change workplace culture, or improve how you feel day-to-day.  

If you have already raised your concerns with senior leaders, and how it’s affecting your abilities to do your job, it may be time to look for a new role at a school that demonstrates more commitment to teacher health and wellbeing. It’s important to note that stress and burnout can cloud our judgment, impact our decision-making, and make situations seem worse than they are. Before leaping, talk to a career coach, counsellor, or colleagues to help you gain clarity and perspective. They may have experiences, ideas, and solutions that may help resolve your most difficult issues. Prioritising your health trumps all but avoid making rash decisions.  

Limited opportunities for career development 

The job may be good, the school right, but career progression seems lacking. Promotion - or the experience needed to gain it – might lie elsewhere. While it's common for teachers to want to put down roots early on in their careers, a fresh start can bring fresh opportunities. Consider different types of schools that may provide a new challenge to hone your skills - could you learn more in an inner-city school than a rural one, broaden your experience at a school in special measures, or find more reward working in a SEND school? It could even just mean moving to a larger school with more students. 

With all the pressures facing teachers across the sector, it can be tempting to stay put if colleagues and workplace culture are good. However, all teachers should be encouraged to spread their wings and engage in professional development, increasing skills in communication, classroom technology, behavior management, and listening. If there is resistance to your ideas to take on extracurricular responsibilities, such as organising clubs and societies, you may find more opportunities at another school. Similarly, suppose you have aspirations to become a headteacher but are not encouraged to advance in your career or don’t see any likelihood of promotion. In that case, it can help to research what other local schools have to offer before making a decision. 

Feeling stagnant 

Have things become stagnant? Are you just going through the motions? Most teachers love inspiring and motivating students, but it's no reflection on your abilities if you find yourself less than eager to start your day as when you first began the job.  

Teachers often end up going above and beyond, either through the general business of the school or through establishing, or overseeing, extra-curricular activity. Wider involvement in the school and helping to forge links with the local community is a big part of being a teacher. It not only serves the school and students but increases feelings of job satisfaction through a shared sense of belonging and goals. If these opportunities aren't available in your current role, it could be time to move on. 

Remember, it’s impossible to love your job all the time. Could it be that you just need to try something new – perhaps exploring different teaching methods, collaborating with colleagues to shake up routine tasks, offering to mentor a new teacher learning the ropes, or undertaking PR activities to enhance the reputation of the school – perhaps through a school project or charity challenge. 

If you feel you know your job inside out and have explored every avenue to retain your interest in the role, it may be time to consider options elsewhere. You may be many years into your time at a school or you might be disillusioned after only a few terms. Change can be scary but also exhilarating – and help you to fall in love with teaching again. 

The school’s values don’t align with your own 

It can be tough to work against your principles or in conditions that see you constantly at odds with senior leadership decisions. Cultural and philosophical alignment is crucial in teaching as it directly influences job satisfaction, professional fulfillment, and the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process. A school's culture encompasses its values, traditions, and overall atmosphere, while its educational philosophy outlines the principles guiding teaching methods and approaches. 

Cultural alignment ensures a harmonious work environment. When educators share values and beliefs with their colleagues and the institution, it creates more cohesive teams, ultimately benefitting both teachers and students. 

Alignment with the educational philosophy of a school is paramount for effective teaching. Teaching methods, assessment strategies, and the overall approach to education can vary widely between institutions. When educators resonate with a school's educational philosophy, they are more likely to feel supported and motivated to implement its practices. This alignment promotes a seamless integration of teaching strategies, creating a unified and effective learning experience for students. 

Furthermore, cultural and philosophical alignment contributes to professional growth. Educators who share a common vision with their school are often more motivated to engage in professional development opportunities offered by the institution.  

School leaders are resistant to innovation 

Are you frustrated by the lack of interest to explore new technologies in school? Perhaps there’s a fear of AI that has lost senior leaders’ confidence in tech tools. Keeping a mindset of innovation in schools is crucial in order to meet the diverse needs of students and prepare them for the challenges of the future. 

Innovation should be part of the school environment. It allows teachers to stay abreast of advancements in pedagogy and technology through new teaching methods and tools to enhance the learning experience, making lessons more engaging and relevant. Schools that encourage innovation often provide professional development opportunities, empowering teachers to experiment with novel approaches in the classroom. 

Innovation can also improve teacher adaptability. With societal and technological changes influencing education, teachers must be equipped to adapt their methods, and be sure they are a step ahead of students who will be immersed in technology beyond the classroom. All teachers will feel undermined if they can’t answer children’s questions about existing technology or aren’t familiar with the social media platforms or other tools children use to communicate and learn. An innovative mindset encourages a willingness to experiment, learn from failures, and continuously refine teaching strategies to remain effective. 

Feeling overwhelmed or under-challenged by the size of the school or classroom

Not every teacher is suited to a challenging environment, managing behavioural problems or large classroom sizes. By the same token, others will find a large school a positive test of their skills and character.  

The size of a school or classroom plays a pivotal role in a teacher's happiness and effectiveness. Smaller class sizes allow for more personalised interactions, where teachers can better understand individual learning styles, address specific needs, and provide tailored support. This approach also helps teachers build stronger connections with their pupils. 

Managing a smaller class often translates to fewer discipline issues. Teachers can devote more time to cultivating a positive and inclusive classroom culture, as they can address behavioural concerns promptly.  

Likewise, smaller schools often offer more collaborative and close-knit communities. Teachers have increased opportunities to engage with colleagues, share ideas, and collaborate on projects. This sense of community can lead to a supportive network, facilitating the exchange of innovative teaching methods and best practices. 

On the other hand, larger schools or classrooms may provide more diverse resources and extracurricular activities. However, the challenge lies in maintaining a sense of individual connection and addressing the unique needs of each student in a larger setting. 

It's good to try different types of school environment if you are undecided, as this can make you a more rounded teacher, able to handle different situations such as classroom behaviour or making your voice heard in a large school. Every teacher has a different ideal and choosing the right school for you is an important factor in ensuring the best interests of pupils. 

Looking for a fresh start in teaching? Working with a specialist recruiter can reignite your passion for teaching. We have lots of open roles and are top of the list when it comes to September recruitment. Speak to one of our specialist consultants today.

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Hardworking or work addict? How to spot the signs of workaholism [with free downloadable questionnaire]
5 mins read
  1. Article

Hardworking or work addict? How to spot the signs of workaholism [with free downloadable questionnaire]

​What is workaholism?

A term first coined by Psychologist Wayne Oates in 1971, workaholism refers to a compulsion and uncontrollable need to work incessantly.

It manifests as an inability to stop working or maintain reasonable hours, even when it’s detrimental to the person’s life. Prioritising work over family, friends, and hobbies, workaholics thrive on adrenaline - seeking the rush of last-minute deadlines, all-nighters, and juggling multiple projects.

It is often overlooked as a serious addiction when compared to alcoholism or drug addiction. But, left untreated, it can have severe consequences and even be fatal. Much like alcoholism or drug abuse, workaholism harms both the workaholic and those around them. Over time, it negatively impacts their mental and physical health, straining relationships, family life, rest, exercise, and nutrition. However, unlike drug and alcohol addictions, people cannot choose to completely avoid work forever, so recovery can be a challenging balancing act which requires patience and understanding from employers and those around them.

However, some employers are under the false impression that workaholics make great employees. After all, they are willing to put in long hours, work weekends and put work ahead of everything else. What employer would not want that in an employee? And to make matters worse, our culture of rewarding hard work and commending those who clock in extra hours can contribute to the problem and reinforce the addiction.

But workaholism is not the same as someone who is simply a hard worker and dedicated, and is definitely not a good thing for your business.

How does workaholism differ from simply being ‘hardworking’?

Part of what makes workaholism so difficult to spot is that it can often be mistaken for a hard worker. However, it involves a lot more than just working long hours or being highly ambitious.

What makes someone a work addict is evident in the psychological and physical impact it has on them, which is significant and damaging to their lives and health. Regardless of the number of hours worked, workaholics are unable to psychologically detach from work which can lead to chronic stress.

What are the negative consequences of workaholism?

Work addiction can have a whole host of negative consequences on the individual, as well as your team and wider business.

Workaholics experience high levels of stress, which can lead to sleep problems, depression, severe anxiety, poorer functioning outside of work, and more work-family conflicts. All of this has been linked to poor psychological wellbeing, reduced perceived health and happiness, and lower self-reported work performance.

Here are just some of the wider implications workaholism could have on the team and business:

Imbalance in team dynamics

Workaholics can upset team dynamics. Others may feel resentful of the workaholic for being seen as more dedicated than they are. It could also lead to them trying to ‘catch up’ and match their unrealistic workloads.

Higher staff turnover

A workaholic manager may drive away valuable employees by making unreasonable demands. This will also result in additional costs to the employer by needing to rehire and retrain new employees.

Lack of creativity and innovation

Someone who struggles to switch off, take breaks, and make time for personal hobbies and relaxation may be stifling their creative side. This can lead to a lack of creative thinking and innovation in their work.

Long-term sickness

Along with the physical symptoms of chronic stress that can cause sickness, the person with the addiction is very likely to experience burnout at some point, potentially resulting in long-term absence.

Reduced productivity

Believe it or not, workaholism doesn’t equate to higher productivity. Many work addicts may struggle to strike the balance between quantity and quality of work and may spend more time trying to stay busy rather than effectively organising their time. They may also spend long hours at their desk in a mental fog because they are too exhausted to function at full capacity.

How can you spot signs in your employees?

Spotting the signs of workaholism in others, and even yourself, can be challenging, but it’s not impossible if you actively look out for the red flags.

Firstly, you may notice your employee consistently works beyond their scheduled hours. But most importantly, it’s not just the number of hours worked, it’s if they do this even when it’s unnecessary. For example, it may be reasonable for someone to work overtime if there is a looming deadline, or an unusually busy period. But if they work late or come in early even when there is no real pressure to, this is a warning sign that they may be a workaholic.

Other signs to look out for:

  • They demand perfection and unreasonably high standards from themselves or others

  • Regularly work during holidays or not use their holiday allowance at all

  • They may hoard work by taking on many projects, often more than they can handle

  • Failure to delegate or share work

  • Often work through lunch

  • Put tremendous pressure on themselves to work quickly and meet unrealistic deadlines

While many of these aren’t signs on their own, when you notice a regular pattern of negative habits, it can signify a work addiction.

Of course, there are many more symptoms that can impact someone’s personal life which may not be visible to you as their manager, but if you have reason to believe they are suffering from work addiction, it’s important to sit down with them and discuss your concerns sensitively and confidentially. If you are unsure on how to broach the topic, always check with your HR team first.

As a manager, you are not expected to be an expert in this matter, nor should you attempt to diagnose someone with an addiction, but it’s important to highlight your concerns about the behaviours you have witnessed, and signpost where they can go for more help should they wish to.

To help you, we've recreated the Workaholics Anonymous official self-assessment questions as a pdf you can email to your employees. It lists 20 questions that will help gauge if someone may have a work addiction. You should encourage employees to complete this in their own time, and if they feel they may have a problem, you can signpost them to their general practitioner or local mental health team.

Download the questions here.

Remember, workaholism is a serious illness that can have a major impact on the individual as well as the team, and managers should be mindful of the signs and take care not to encourage workaholism by rewarding unhealthy work practices.

If you are seeking a talented professional to join your team, or seeking a new opportunity yourself, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.

Navigating ‘groupthink’ in the modern workplace: a threat to creativity and decision-making
4 mins read
  1. Article

Navigating ‘groupthink’ in the modern workplace: a threat to creativity and decision-making

​In the dynamic landscape of the modern workplace, the phenomenon known as ‘groupthink’ looms as a silent threat to innovation, critical thinking, and effective decision-making.

Coined by Social Psychologist Irving Janis in 1972, groupthink is the tendency to prioritise harmony and consensus over objective analysis in a group setting, often resulting in flawed outcomes and missed opportunities. Opposing opinions are suppressed or overlooked which leads to a false sense of agreement and certainty within a group - this makes it difficult to spot the signs.

Factors such as high cohesiveness, strong leadership influence, and insulated group structures can exacerbate groupthink tendencies.

How it manifests in the workplace

In the workplace, groupthink can occur during creative brainstorming sessions, strategic planning meetings, or decision-making processes.

Team members may hesitate to voice different opinions for fear of conflict or upsetting the status quo, leading to a narrow range of perspectives being considered. Additionally, hierarchical organisational structures can amplify groupthink, as junior employees may feel reluctant to challenge the opinions of senior stakeholders.

Impacts of groupthink

The consequences of groupthink can be extensive. Decisions made this way are often subpar, as critical scrutiny and diverse viewpoints have been sidelined. This can lead to missed opportunities, failed initiatives, and reduced organisational performance. Additionally, groupthink can stifle innovation and creativity, hindering a company's ability to adapt to the ever-changing market conditions needed to stay relevant.

According to Janis, these eight behaviours, or ‘symptoms’, can indicate that groupthink is occurring:

  1. Illusions of unanimity lead people to believe that everyone agrees and feels the same way. People find it much more difficult to speak out when it seems that everyone else in the group is on the same page.

  2. Unquestioned beliefs result in people ignoring possible moral problems and not considering the consequences of individual and group actions.

  3. Rationalising prevents people from reconsidering their beliefs and causes them to ignore potential warning signs.

  4. Stereotyping means people ignore, or even demonise, those who may oppose or challenge the group's ideas.

  5. Self-censorship causes people who might have doubts to hide their fears or misgivings. Rather than sharing what they know, they remain quiet and assume that the group must know best. (This is also known as informational social influence – where people assume that others know more than they do.)

  6. ‘Mindguards’ act as self-appointed censors to hide problematic information from the group. Rather than sharing important information, they keep quiet or actively prevent sharing.

  7. Illusions of invulnerability lead members of the group to be overly optimistic and engage in risk-taking. When no one speaks out or voices an alternative opinion, it causes people to believe that the group must be right.

  8. Direct pressure to conform is often placed on people who pose questions, and those who question the group are often seen as disloyal or traitorous.

To spot the signs of groupthink, next time your team has a brainstorming session, look out for these behaviours and actively discourage them.

Strategies to mitigate groupthink

Organisations must foster an environment that encourages independent thought and constructive criticism of decisions.

Here are some strategies to mitigate groupthink:

Encourage diversity

This is probably the single most effective way to reduce groupthink. By embracing diversity of thought, background, and experience within teams, you can uncover different perspectives. These can help locate blind spots and challenge conventional practices. Actively encourage diversity to bring a wide range of opinions and perspectives to every decision-making process.

Promote psychological safety

Create an environment where every single team member feels comfortable expressing their opinion without fear of retribution. Leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone for open communication and respectful debate.

Play devil's advocate

Assign a designated devil's advocate to challenge existing assumptions and arguments during decision-making processes. This role encourages critical thinking and helps uncover potential flaws in proposed solutions.

Encourage independent thinking

Encourage team members to conduct independent research and analysis before group discussions. This ensures that each person brings diverse perspectives and well-informed opinions to the table that can be backed up.

Practice impartiality

When entering a discussion, leaders should take an impartial view and not state their preferences or expectations at the start. This will minimise the likelihood of junior members feeling unable to challenge senior employees’ opinions.

Divide into subgroups

From time to time, divide the group into two or more subgroups to meet separately, under different chairpersons, and then come together to discuss their group’s suggestions.

Embrace independent thought

Groupthink poses a significant challenge to effective decision-making and innovation in the workplace. By fostering a culture of open communication, diversity, and critical thinking, organisations can mitigate the risks associated with groupthink and unlock the full potential of their teams. Embracing independent thought not only leads to better outcomes but also cultivates a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Are you looking to diversify your team? Seeking creative professionals who can help your business grow and thrive? Get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.

Managers unleashed: why training is key to effective management
8 mins read
  1. Article

Managers unleashed: why training is key to effective management

​​You wouldn’t allow a pilot to fly a plane without training, so why would you expect someone to manage people without knowing how to do so? Is it the same thing?

Recent research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) highlighted that eight-out-of-ten (82%) new managers take on management responsibilities without any formal training. Fifty-two per cent do not hold any management or leadership qualifications. And 26% of senior leaders and managers have never received any formal management training.

Some managers might appear natural-born leaders, others may struggle to ‘manage’ and need a helping hand. So why, when managing teams effectively and efficiently is at the heart of almost every business, are we allowing for failure?

We talk to Reed Learning’s Roger Mason, on the benefits of investing in courses like those from CMI for their managers and the positive impact manager training can have on a business, it’s people and the managers themselves.

Watch the full interview or read the Q&A below:

Q: What do you believe are the primary reasons for investing in training programmes for managers?

A: If you're running an organisation, of any sort, you have to work out what you can do to make sure that organisation succeeds. And I like to think of these things as levers.

What are the levers that you can pull to achieve the organisational outcomes that you need? And that might be to do with financial investment, that might be to do with the way you pay and reward your staff. That might be to do with the products you make. Developing managers is one of those levers. And in my view, it's an important lever because there's lots of evidence, as well as common sense, that would suggest, if an organisation has effective managers, then its staff are more likely to be productive, more likely to stay with the organisation, and more likely to be happy.

Research from CMI has identified this case of accidental managers. Eighty-two per cent - that's four-out-of-five managers - have moved into management roles without any formal professional training. And we just wouldn't let that happen with pilots or with accountants. We just wouldn't trust people with those roles. And with managers, we do that. We put so many people into management roles, so that perhaps is the most important reason why organisations should really consider training and developing their managers.

Q: How do you think well-trained managers contribute to organisational success?

A: There are loads of ways that managers will contribute to the outcomes of an organisation. Research from an organisation called Gallup has identified that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.

The difference between having a great manager or a poor manager contributes to so many different things. That would include productivity, profitability, quality, staff turnover, absenteeism. Therefore, if you want to see an improvement across all of those metrics, across every aspect of the organisation, one place to look would be the quality of your managers.

Q: What qualifications are available to leaders to help develop their managerial skills?

A: Management development is a vast, vast thing. If you want to develop as a manager, there are lots of self-guided ways. Even through things like TikTok and buying books, of course, but many people will choose to get professionally qualified.

We work with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), and we deliver their qualifications. People would book onto those qualifications for a number of reasons. It gives a rigour to the training. You know that the content that you're getting is robust, that the techniques you're going to be learning about are thorough. It's recognised, so you can say, “Yeah, I'm a qualified manager. I've got the evidence of that.” There's also the benefit of studying with other people.

If you enrol on a CMI course delivered by Reed Learning you get to hear the experiences of the peer group - other managers sharing similar experiences. And also, we offer qualifications at different levels. So, managers are able to pick the method of study and the level of study, from entry-level management to more senior management, that suits them and works around their job, their career, their family and everything else.

Q: What specific skills or competencies do you think are essential for managers to develop through training?

A: There are timeless things that every manager should get the hang of. So, they would be things like goal setting, motivating a team, running meetings and giving feedback. What I'm seeing, increasingly, is the way that organisations are wanting their managers to develop what have been called 'soft skills' historically.

And, a great place to start would be self-awareness and emotional intelligence. So, if you're a manager or new to management, think about, “Well, where do I begin?”. My encouragement would be to begin with self-awareness, developing your emotional intelligence. And as part of that, seeking some feedback from other people.

Q: How do you measure the effectiveness of manager training initiatives within an organisation?

A: When I'm talking to customers, I'm always encouraging them to think about the outcomes that matter most to their organisation. That may or may not involve financial measures, but in any company, in any business, in any charity, in any public sector organisation, there'll be two, or three, or four metrics, that really determine the health of that organisation. And, developing managers, which doesn't always involve training - there's lots of ways to develop managers - should always be linked to those outcomes.

We should be able to draw a link between the outcomes of the organisation and the work that's done with managers. And then beyond that, there should be some common sense applied. So, for example, if you wanted to train managers on appraisals, presumably there's going to be some evidence that appraisals need to happen, that when appraisals happen well, there are good outcomes for the staff and so on. And, you should be measuring those things, and setting a baseline before doing any training. So, then you can actually measure and evidence what has changed as a result of this intervention.

Q: In what ways do you think ongoing training and development for managers impacts employee morale and retention?

A: There are lots of ways that working with managers will play out in the morale and wellbeing of a team.

The most important relationship in the workplace for a staff member is the relationship with their manager. If that manager is supporting them, guiding them, giving them feedback, that's not only going to improve their productivity in the workplace, and help them to do their jobs well. We know that that carries across into their life. Their wellbeing, their mental health, satisfaction, and outcomes like that. Overall, working with managers is not just about productivity, it's also about the wellbeing and overall health of the organisation.

Q: How you ensure that manager training aligns with the strategic goals and objectives of the organisation?

A: Well, I've got three top tips for this one. Firstly, make sure that you've got the right sponsor, so that would mean someone from the leadership team, typically. So, if you're asked to design some training for managers within the organisation, then you need to understand who's made that request and why, and what are they actually trying to achieve as a result of that. You have to be strategically aligned, and that typically means working with someone who owns the strategy.

Tip number two is set clear metrics so you know in advance what are the measurable things that you're trying to achieve as a result of this. Whether that's to do with financial performance, whether that's to do with staff outcomes, whether that's to do with customer outcomes, compliance, whatever it might be. Get really clear on those metrics up front and measure them in advance, so, you've got your baseline.

And then thirdly, training design, in my view should be 90% commercial and 10% creative. And that's perhaps a slightly controversial thing to say as a creative trainer.

If you spend the time up front getting really clear on what the training needs to achieve, and working really hard at understanding the things that you can do with people to understand what's happening for them at the moment and what needs to change – that's core to the training. And then on top of that, can come your creativity in terms of how you bring that training session to life. And that 10% of creativity is so important as well. But first of all, you have to have the foundation of a really robust plan for what you're going to achieve.

So, the three tips. Get the right sponsor. Make sure you're working with the right sponsor. Secondly, have your clear metrics. And thirdly, in thinking about your training design, think commercially before you think creatively.

Find out how they can tailor training courses to the needs of your organisation here.