Transitioning into Teaching as a Second Career: Skill Carry-Over, Professional Experience, and Classroom Performance

  •  Abdulaziz S. Alharbi    


The present study aims to identify the motivations of those who move to the teaching profession from pre-existing careers in other areas, and to explore the transferrable skills and experiences they bring with them to the classroom. Participants were selected from among students in a teacher-training program, all of whom had previous careers—in the military, as counselors, as security staff, and in other areas—and all of whom were in the final stages of their in-classroom practical teaching experience. The study used a semi-structured focus group method to elicit self-reports of these student-teachers’ experiences of classroom management, student interactions, and actual approach to pedagogy, as well as their motives for seeking a change of career. The study revealed that the most important factors motivating the switch were a combination of economic ones, such as career stability and salary, and personal, social factors such as the desire to transmit one’s values to the next generation. The results also pointed strongly toward the utility, relevance, and usefulness of prior experience in other careers, and participants noted their own preparedness to manage chaotic social situations or draw on real-world experiences to explain complex or morally difficult ideas. The study supports recommendations that teacher training programmes focus on practical aspects of second-career teacher preparation, and support them in adjusting to their new roles and new identities.

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