The Poke

Today I am not leaving teaching.

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts lately; from the secret teacher, primary teachers, secondary teachers, senior leaders and more. I even wrote one myself 4 years ago (and it has been by far my most read post). The stories are all heartfelt, familiar and somewhat painful. Education under the Tories has gone to hell in a handbasket, the levels of accountability have become oppressive, the pressure to hit targets can feel suffocating and autonomy feels like it has all but left the building.

But I am not leaving teaching.

Those who have left talk of having an actual work-life balance, better physical and emotional health and in conversation I’ve found not a single ex-teacher who tells me they feel they have to work as hard now as they used to do just to stand still.

And yet this is not a post about leaving teaching.

I have good days and bad days, but today I had some great fun with my Y10 class that involved a bit of winding them up, a bit of having a laugh and, by heck, it involved them producing a big chunk of work.

I had a difficult chat with a pupil – the details of which I can’t and won’t go into this morning. And this afternoon I got a subtle smile from said student as I passed by their classroom on my way to firefight 3 other issues.

My Y12s worked for almost an hour in near silence, producing work demonstrating that the lessons I spent last week trying to re-teach them about flow charts and IFDs had actually made a difference.

I could go on (and perhaps I should). The point is that even on those days where I feel totally ineffectual, fail to solve the problem I’m having with their progress and go home with a knotted ball of stress in my stomach and in my legs, there are still those moments where I’m making a difference.

Teaching is an awesome job, and it’s a privilege to have those moments. Moments that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t in education.

There is a cost, of course. I’m increasingly having to find ways to step back, accept my limitations (they can’t all make 5 levels of progress!) and switch off. Last weekend I didn’t mark a single piece of work. I did, however, take on a couple of extra dog walks, clear out a nest of super mutants, caught up with a couple of films and just generally tried to be a human rather than a teacher for a change.

So I’m trying to be positive. To rationalise the problems I find challenging, to decompose the difficulties and to be a supportive rather than whinging voice around my colleagues. With mixed success, of course, but then this is a career that can easily take the best of you and spit you out if you’re not careful.

And I’m staying a teacher for the foreseeable future.


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