Teaching

A while ago I read this post entitled “Would I recommend teaching?”, It was an enjoyable post, some things I agreed with and some I didn’t, but the overarching answer I would give to the question is a definitive yes. Then yesterday I happened across this article on buzz feed which I thought put some much needed positivity about the profession in to the public domain. What followed was a torrent of tweets about “What about 60 hour weeks? What about the near constant riot control? What about paperwork? What about overbearing SLT? What about the politicians interfering when they don’t have a clue about what happens in the classroom? It’s a thankless task.” I was left with the weird feeling that I was somehow being attacked for enjoying the job I do. I was left with a similar feeling last week when a careers advisor spoke at assembly. He was talking about a website where pupils could look up careers and see if they were for them. He said he often found teachers on there and that he could see some nodding. Both the assembly and twitter irked me a little. Yesterday I wanted to respond, but 140 characters is nowhere near enough for me to say all the things I want to say.

What about 60 hour weeks?

What about them? I regularly work 50/60 hours a week, I have managed to reach a point where all of those hours take place in school and I have evenings and weekends to spend time with my family. On top of this I have 13 weeks a year holiday time, again to spend with my family, and I feel this is adequate compensation for the hours spent working during term time.

What about riot control?

We’ve all had those classes, they can be hell, at times. But the satisfaction you feel when you make it through the “pushing the barriers” phase and earn the respect of those classes, in my opinion, more than makes up for the start. I work in a tough school, a very tough school. A school with a much higher than average pupil premium intake, a school heavily weighted towards lower and middle band FFT pupils, a school with some very tough classes. Even here, it’s not “Riot Control” on the whole.

What about the paperwork?

There isn’t that much, and what there is is generally necessary. If you are dealing with vulnerable pupils, with child protection issues. You need to make sure that things are logged and that you have the required documents to pass on to the appropriate outside agencies. There is also the unfortunate aspect of covering your back, which is made necessary by the “out for what you can get” lawsuit culture which seems to have crept across the Atlantic over the last 20 years or so. There is a lot of paperwork for NQTs, but we want to make sure the people who are teaching the next generation are capable of it don’t we?

What about overbearing SLT?

I have no personal experience of this, but I have seen what this can do to friends and family members in schools where this has happened. I imagine that perhaps sometimes the people complaining about the paperwork actually fit better into this category. My advice would be to find a new job and move on. Its not like that everywhere.

What about the politicians interfering when they don’t have a clue about what happens in the classroom?

I can understand this argument. I really can. But education is something that must be run by politicians. The only other choice is to hand it over to the private sector and allow a race to the bottom. Keir Hardie, and others like him, fought for a state education, to bring education to those who couldn’t afford it, and I baulk at the thought of taking that freedom away. The way democracies work are that the populous votes in a government whom are then entrusted with making these decisions, to remove that would be to remove democracy.

It’s a thankless task.

Is it? Perhaps I’m doing it wrong then. This week my year 11s and my year 13s finished their terminal external exams. It’s been quite an emotional time. I have received tons of thank you notes and cards. I received one from the parent of a year 11 pupil who thanked me for “inspiring” her daughter and giving her a “confidence with maths that she never has had before.” A year 13 thanked me for “reaffirming my faith in maths” and “inspiring me to go into maths teaching”, saying he hoped he could be “half as good a teacher as you are.” Another year 13 thanked me for “giving me confidence in my own ability, I wouldn’t have got through my a levels without you.” I was also thanked for being a great shoulder to cry on and told by a group of year 13s that they would really miss me. I will really miss them. This isn’t a thankless task. I could list more examples, but this is starting to make me feel like I’m blowing my own trumpet a bit. I will say this though, have been thanked more as a teacher than in any of the many previous jobs I had before. Thanks that comes from pupils, parents, colleagues and mangers. Thanks that means a lot.

The wider life of the school

The wider life of the school also offers more than any other job I’ve ever had. Yesterday at 4:30 I sat in the school hall to watch an hour long performance from a group of sixth formers. It was brilliant. They were brilliant. I was moved by the performance. This isn’t the only time I’ve been moved by a school performance and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I love plays and musicals and some of the ones I’ve seen here have been as good, if not better, than professional performances I’ve been to. Its amazing and I am always so proud of my pupils.On top of that, I’ve been lucky enough t play in the staff band. This is great fun, both jamming after school an playing in assemblies. Then there’s the rugby teams. I’ve not had time to help with the coaching this year, but I’ve been able to catch a few games and in a few weeks I will be going to see some f our year 7 and year 8 pupils represent South Leeds Schools on the hallowed turf of Headingley Carnegie Stadium.

Would I recommend teaching?

Yes, yes I would. Without a shadow of a doubt. I love it, every minute of it. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t. But I do understand that not everybody does love it. If you are a teacher and not enjoying it you need to ask why. Perhaps it is teaching you don’t enjoy, in which case get out, find something you do enjoy. If not, perhaps its the school, look around and try somewhere else. Don’t try to insinuate that there’s something wrong with me because I like it.

Teaching is hard, very hard. Especially the NQT year, but in my opinion it is well worth the effort. I would definitely recommend it, but with I would give this warning: Don’t go into teaching if you want an easy ride, if your planning on slacking off, or if you haven’t got a thick skin.

 

Additional Reading:

 

Keep up the hard work.

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  1. flyingcoloursmaths
    June 20, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Certainly no attack meant on you: far from it, the world needs good teachers. What the world doesn’t need is articles that do a carpet-brushing job on the challenges and extreme stress that seems the norm for my teaching friends.

  2. June 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  1. November 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm

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