Home > Education Policy, Pedagogy, Teaching > Keep up the hard work

Keep up the hard work

This is a response to the May #blogsync topic

Teaching is a profession that I love. Having discovered the joys of teaching, I don’t think I’ll ever leave. I, like most teachers, work extremely hard. Yes, the holidays are superb, but the hours I put in through the week are long, and can be particularly hard through the winter.

My mum was a teacher, and growing up I remember the hours of marking she did at the dining table after cooking tea for me and my brother, I remember sitting playing in classrooms over the holidays while she planned, marked, renewed displays. So I knew it was not a 9-3 job, I knew I was signing up for 50-60 hour weeks, and I’m fine with that, and I feel it is nicely offset by 13 weeks of holiday time (some of which, but not all, does include some planning). Before i joined I knew about the profession, and I respected it. Perhaps this is what the public are missing.

Earlier this year a year ten pupil arrived at school around ten to six to go on a school trip to a football match. I was just leaving. He assumed I was going on the trip, and was shocked to find out that I wasn’t, he asked in amazement, “well why are you still here then? School finished hours ago.” I explained that marking and planning were part of the job, he paused, thought a bit then said, “yeah, that makes sense. I’d never thought of it like that before. I guess you lot are here loads more than us then.”

I reckon that’s what most people think. And it’s an idea perpetuated by the constant attacks on the profession by the government and the media. It’s probably an impression also given by poor teachers.

When I think back to my school days I can tell you which teachers planned, and which ones didn’t. Which teacher’s lessons were engaging, had been thought about, had real deep learning attached, and which ones didn’t. The worst teachers lessons were all very similar, no matter what the lesson: “Chris, you can go first today, start reading from the top of page 22”. One science teacher who did this regularly used to often notice my friend Liam and I playing noughts and crosses or writing songs and would randomly fire questions at us to catch us out. The problem with this was she’d fire a question about the passage being read, and it was not hard to gave a quick scan of the page and answer correctly. The next table housed a couple of lads called James and Anthony, they hadn’t worked out that if you had the book open you could find the answer, Liam and I used to throw the odd answer to them. One time the question was “which organ does” something, and I said quietly to Anthony “pipe organ”, which he confidently shouted as his answer, the class burst into hysterical laughter, much to the chagrin of The teacher, and to Anthony who was then on the receiving end if a right rollicking. This was the highlight of all science lessons from this teacher. She, and others like her, who spent the lesson sat at the front of the room while we took it in turns to read from the text book then answer questions on said part of textbook, are more than likely responsible for some people perceiving all teachers work 9-3, as they certainly seemed to.

Thankfully, teachers like this are a dying breed, and I think (hope) that the current generation in schools realise and appreciate that. When they grow up, then I hope that perception will change, but as long as the government and sections of the press are fuelling the feeling with their regular attacks on teachers, then it will be hard work.

What can we do? Short of bringing people into schools and showing them, I’m not sure. Keep writing blogs that show our passion. Continue doing our best to educate, and improve the lives of, the pupils in our care. Engage with parents in a positive manner, showing them that we are on their side, that we care and that we work hard. Ensure we read the party manifestos (especially on education) and campaign for the parties we agree with. And support the sections of the press that support us.

We are the frontline. We are the teachers these pupils will remember, we are the ones who can alter the perceptions of people who suffered in a different age. It might not work, but if we continue to work hard, we might just raise our status.

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  1. June 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm
  2. June 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm

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