When I first started this blog my aim was in no way to only have two blog posts about why I’m thinking about leaving before I’d made up my mind. I was hoping to do a whole series, maybe actually have some people read it, get involved in the “twittersphere”, get into some lively debates. The reason I haven’t done this is: teaching.
On announcing my notice being handed in over twitter with the hashtag “#NQT” one person responded and asked me why. I thought that it would be impossible to respond in 140 characters and suddenly remembered that I have a blog as a platform for this exact sort of situation.
I mentioned in my first post on this matter that I was sexually assaulted in the classroom – a moment which will never leave me now I very much doubt. That is by no means the major contributing factor to my resignation however. One of my main reasons for leaving teaching is because of the fact that it’s a lifestyle and not a job.
On countless occasions over morning coffee in the staffroom (a grey, bleak place, sucked of all life by the great big window the children can gawp through at you eating your soup for lunch) people have told me how they were up until 2am, 3am, 4am preparing lessons or finishing marking in order to stay on top of work loads. Whilst this is a practice I refuse to partake in, it leaves me with a constant feeling on guilt or worrying, that I’m therefore not doing enough for my students.
This constant feeling is one of, if not the greatest contributing factor to me leaving. Teaching is a job which you never stop doing. Every waking minute is given over to thinking about work, and that is not a healthy way to live your life. My partner (also a teacher) often complains that I am never completely present with her. I might be there in body but my mind is elsewhere.
I WANT MY LIFE BACK.
That thought stays with me all day every day. Maybe I should have been more aware that this was the case when I got into teaching; I should have known that teachers are married to their jobs and they struggle for a social life, not just during the week but at the weekend as well.
But why on earth would they want to advertise that fact? I recently spoke to one of the organisers of my training course who said that their intake for the 2015-2016 year was dangerously low. “What do you think has caused that?” I put to him.
“The economy is back on course. People don’t want to be teachers now,” came his reply with the look of somebody thoroughly warn out. I chose not to take that opportunity to let him know I’m planning to leave the profession. Imagine if they knew that, along with the less than appealing pay considering the jobs and graduate schemes you can walk into from university, you will also work up to 60 hour weeks. This is also topped off by the fact that it is often a completely thankless task.
Young people do not want to work in an atmosphere where they are put under constant pressure, year round to produce results, lose their evenings and weekends and have to deal with children who are ungrateful for the work they put in. What are the benefits? A pay package that reflects your hard work? No. The satisfaction of putting a child on the path to success? Not at this school.
Maybe I am being cynical here but it simply feels like a lot of teachers do more work than the students. Given the system we are working in, teaching to exams and pushing them through the course, we are barely even giving them the skills they need to succeed at life and be decent human beings.
Teachers I work with put in every bit of effort for the students at my school and they quite simply do not get the return they deserve. There is a severe lack of career progression and I feel a lack of recognition, both from students and staff for the hours they work. It would feel good, I assume, when a struggling student comes away with a grade they have worked hard for under your supervision, but not when you feel you have put in more work than the child.
I’m in my early twenties, and maybe I will one day return to teaching, but for now I want to live my life. I want a job that I enjoy, where it doesn’t feel like everybody is under the strain to push and pull 30 reluctant teenagers through a two-year course kicking and screaming to produce another percentage in a box on a spreadsheet. This isn’t teaching – this is a factory line, and we’re the over worked, under paid employees of a state that has politicized education into the Stone Age.
However, is it right that so many people quietly complain and do nothing in regards to making a change? I’m voting with my feet against a system that does not work, for teachers or pupils. I want my life back and I want an education system, which sees students do more work than staff. Maybe this is an issue isolated to one school, but I get the feeling it is not. These people are clearly teachers for the reason of their dedication to improving the prospects of young people, and that I admire.