This time last year I was adamant I was leaving the teaching profession. I was sending out applications to all manner of different jobs in different sectors completely unrelated to the profession which I decided to pay £9000 for the privilege of joining.
I got in touch a teacher specific recruitment company who shall remain unnamed with a view to getting into the more evil side of world of teaching. I was soon persuaded to interview at a school not far from where I live for a maternity cover position.
Whilst I was adamant I was leaving, I was also desperate to secure some form of income as well. A temporary teaching post suited me.
To cut this long and boring story short I was offered the job, accepted after some negotiation of pay and contract (still a contentious issue) and started work in September. I was once again back in a world I hated. At least that is what I thought.
What I have realised in the past year is that I don’t hate EVERYTHING about teaching. I certainly can’t say I love every aspect of the job and there is still a lot I would love to change. However, what I can say is that I enjoy teaching, in the right environment. My current teaching post has taught me a lot, but the biggest thing I’ve learnt is that not every school is as bad as I’d been led to believe by my previous experiences.
My NQT year was spent in what I can now look back on and view as a toxic environment. The friends I have who still teach there have managed to deal with it, and fair play to them because they are forced to become some of the most hard working individuals for the sake of their students. That was not the right environment for me to work in though. To be honest, I don’t think it was particularly healthy for anyone to work there, but I guess some people learnt to cope better and quicker than I was able to.
My health suffered as a result of that school and so did my relationship. As I said, my current school is no heaven, but it is certainly a much healthier and more supportive place to work than my first school.
For this reason, I have decided to keep at it. I have grown as an individual and as a teacher under a much less draconian system which allows a greater level of freedom and which also makes you feel a lot more able as a professional. I have a lot of flaws as a teacher, and as teachers we are forced to consistently face, evaluate and overcome these flaws in order to do better for our students. I realise that I need to change a lot in order to become the teacher I want to be one day and I feel like I can do that in my current environment.
As a profession we are regularly being put down by the press, by the government, by parents and most worryingly sometimes by fellow professionals. It is not an easy job we do as teachers and we all feel completely undervalued and unappreciated by everyone we help. What I have managed to find in my current school is a small amount of hope.
It isn’t in any way perfect, the students are not angels and yes there are still too many middle managers. What is different here is that you are given the opportunity to teach without being forced to follow arbitrary guidelines sent down by the almighty SLT.
I have been given the chance to stay until the end of the academic year and also to apply for the full time position I currently occupy. All I hope is that I can get past my inability to interview well and secure a job which will allow me to become a better teacher.
The History Teacher (for now)