I have written before about the fact that I love my new job as a blogger and the fact it is a million miles away from my previous job as a teacher. I have not however, written about why I left teaching in the first place. I will say now that I still do the odd bit of supply but my main source of income now comes from this blog, something I am so thankful for.
I was born to be a teacher, my mum used to tell me from an early age that I’d make an excellent teacher and as much as I fought against her, she was right. Mums are always right aren’t they? I went to university to do my degree in Zoology (don’t ask) but once qualified soon realised I did in fact want to be a teacher. I completed my PGCE in 2006 and landed my first teaching post soon after – I was so excited!
I loved my job, I really did. No wait, I didn’t love my job… I loved being a teacher. There is a difference.
Teachers have THE best job in the world. We get to mould the minds of future generations- that is just incredible really isn’t it? My job was with the littlies, at the very beginning of their education ladder, fresh into the system and eager to learn. I have taught 100’s of children how to read and write, I’ve nurtured talent and opened their eyes to the world around them. That is something I will always treasure, knowing that I touched their lives. I still remember my first ever teacher and I hope that they will always remember me.
I was more than a teacher to many, I was a mother figure, a carer, a friend. I worked in a school with very vulnerable children, I was their safe place and that is such a privilege. Our days were filled with laughter and smiles, with the children learning in new and exciting ways. If my job could have consisted of these moments, the happy days where I saw the joy in children’s eyes, I wouldn’t have left.
Unfortunately, I hated my job. Because sadly, being a teacher isn’t just about being a teacher anymore. Teaching is about paperwork, targets and ticking boxes.
People think that teachers have it easy, that we work 9 til 3 and have half the year off as holidays. No, just no. I would get to work for 7.30am latest, to set up the classroom and do any admin needed before the day started. I would leave at 6pm most days, only to go home and carry on with admin tasks.
What admin am I talking about?
First of all there was the marking. Now bearing in mind I taught 4 year olds, who was this for? They certainly couldn’t read it so it was all done just in case OFSTED would visit.
Now for anyone who isn’t aware of what should go on in the Foundation Stage (Reception class) you may have missed something from the above point. What on earth are 4 year olds even doing with books that need marking?? Children of 4 should be learning through play, a stage critical to their development. But no, we were forced to have them show work – again for OFSTED’s benefit.
The government are so preoccupied with checking up on teachers, putting pressure on us to prove we are doing a good job, that they don’t realise they are ruining education. I’ve been reading various posts about SATs over the last few days, some for and some against. Parents stating how they do or don’t feel their child is pressured at this time of year. The thing is though, they aren’t aware of the whole picture. Their child may well go through the period unaware of the exam focus but what they may not realise is that their child has not had a well rounded education leading up to these exams. That is the point that bothers me most about SATs.
Many schools will spend months prepping the children. This will mean that subjects such as art or PE are shelved until the exams are done and dusted. Is this good teaching? No. Is it fair on those children who may excel at art? No. Why is it happening? Because staff are under pressure to perform. So no, your child may not feel the pressure but they sure as hell haven’t had a great education, or a well rounded one at least. That isn’t good enough.
There must be a better way.
I understand that teachers need to be held accountable but there must be a better way. For a start I think there should be a pass or fail degree system. Otherwise you can get a teacher who has just about scraped their degree let loose on young minds. If only the best were allowed to teach then maybe we would be trusted, maybe we wouldn’t need to prove ourselves as often.
By making us jump through hoops, teaching is now less about teaching and more about admin. Teachers are tired, they work long hours and constantly have to prove they are doing their job – a job that they spent years training for. Each week I would have to produce a 20 page document stating my intentions for the following week. I would have to write my plans in such detail, even down to the questions I would ask the children. Did I ever look at those plans? Of course not- I was able to teach my class because I was a damn good teacher. I knew what they needed and taught them well.
Teaching isn’t a job, it is a life. When you go home at the end of the day you cannot switch off. I would find myself worrying about certain children or panicking that I’d forgotten to submit my plans. In 6 years I took just 4 sick days. I was sick for more days than that of course but guilt dragged me in, I couldn’t let the school or my children down. This was all well and good until I fell pregnant, it was then that I realised that I couldn’t give it my all anymore.
I know plenty of teachers who juggle family life with their teaching life. None of them are happy, they are all overworked. There is no happy medium. I take my hats off to them, I really do – I know I couldn’t do it.
I gave up teaching because I couldn’t let it run my life anymore. I was tired of being judged, by the government, by the headteacher at my school. I was tired of being told I needed to try a new scheme, one that was going to change the way we teach. Only to find that a month or two later we were to try another new scheme. I was tired of inputting data that didn’t reflect my children’s abilities. I was tired of the politics, not being able do a nativity at Christmas or have a running race at sports day. Teaching children wasn’t fun anymore.
Children are amazing. They are little sponges that soak up every little thing you say. As their teacher you give them that knowledge. This should be the job. Amazing teachers teaching amazing children.
Now why can’t the government just let us get on with it?