This is my 20th year as a qualified teacher. Twenty years in a profession that has changed beyond recognition. According to definition, a teacher is a person who teaches, especially in a school whereas a tutor is a private teacher, typically one who teaches a single pupil or a very small group. I am now a tutor.
I love teaching. I love being part of the learning process. I love working with children.
What I don’t love is:
- having my creativity stifled by indicators and outcomes
- watching colleagues buckle under stress or being targeted rather than supported
- being observed and judged by people who no longer teach
- regularly meeting targets with token recognition
- the expectation that you will work in your holidays
- the school day starting at 7:30am and finishing at 9:30pm
- the data driven ethos which eradicates the person
- watching too many children struggle at school every day because they are not making progress according to an unrealistic trajectory
- the lack of funding for schools
- being blamed for a number of society’s ills
- the constant change in policy, curriculum and practice
- despite giving my all, it’s still not enough
For teachers who are reading this, thank you for all you do for our children, probably at the sacrifice of your own. For parents and carers, please bear in mind that teachers are working under increasing pressure to meet targets and implement new policies; this is not their agenda but imposed on them. For Justine Greening and all MPs who care about education, education in crisis. Please act now. Talk to children, talk to parents, talk to teachers – find out what it’s really like in schools beyond the OFSTED reports and league tables. Education is in jeopardy.
For the first time in 20 years I feel free of judgement. Teachers are constantly being judged both professionally and personally and this constant monitoring and scrutiny is both soul-destroying and damaging. Of all the teachers I know, and I know many, very few are happy. Many are considering leaving the profession because of the poor working conditions, unrealistic expectations and lack of recognition.
There is a life after teaching and it can be good. I don’t want to see anymore committed and effective teachers leaving the profession but I also don’t want to see another colleague destroyed both physically and emotionally by the unrealistic demands expected of them.
As we settle in to half term I raise a glass to all who are defined as ‘teachers’. I will always be a teacher at heart but thankful that I’m not one at the moment.