Teacher Struggling….

Does anyone know? I don’t think so. I am pretty sure I keep up that convincing smile and practiced joviality throughout the day. If I do feel particularly overburdened, there is a small office no one goes; where I pretend to be doing some last minute marking at lunchtime. It’s easier in there because sometimes gets too tiring to retain vigilance about my outer appearance.

I don’t want anyone to know that I am finding it difficult, that this job is beating me down, that the criticism I get from my managers is squeezing the life out of me, that the low exam results my class appear to be heading for this summer is a permanent dull heavy fog over my life. I don’t want anyone to be aware that I can’t sleep after 4 or 5 in the morning because as soon as a sliver of consciousness slips into my head, a thought of the work I have to do that day piggy-backs in with it. After that instant, my mind has to pick and poke at the thought and Bang! I am awake for the day.
If my peers knew, a distance would develop between us. Casual friendships would become stilted. Conversations and eye contact would be avoided in the staff room or passing in the corridor. You wouldn’t really want to ask “How are you?” because you wouldn’t know what to do with my response.
If my managers knew then they would have a permanent personality weakness to hold against me in their minds. Sure, it wouldn’t be written down like that…. Certainly, the school adheres to a policy of mainintaing a work-life balance that ensures teachers’ lives do not become flooded  thoughts of their job. Definitely, they would want to support me. But, under all that, unwritten to avoid accusations of discrimination and blotting the copy on their “Caring school ethos underpinned by Christian values”, SLT would see me as a weak link, one they would need to look to replace. If I cannot cope with the bar at the level it is, how am I going to keep up when it gets raised again (as it does every year) in September? No, if I have to have a day off to protect my mind from the surrounding, ever encroaching pressures of work, I would tell them I had been sick or had a small fever or something. I wouldn’t admit to being mentally ill, even in this minor way. That would be the end of my career in their eyes.
I know that it isn’t other people’s fault though. I know the only way to really solve this is not pills from my GP or for my peers and managers to change their attitude. I know that the answer lies within me. I know I have the potential to help heal myself. I know that the effort and skills need to come from me. I am sorry I am lying to you all. But at the moment I don’t really know what my next step should be. Maybe I will get a moment when my mind is clearer and I can see a possible solution. But not soon I fear; I do not  yet have the courage to take that first step.
So for the while, I will keep on pretending, masking and hiding; I will find refuge in chocolate and wine, until I find the inner courage to say this out loud.

Teaching pupils to Become Apprentice candidates

Image

Of course they are a bunch of over opinionated TV friendly, beyond-self- parody suited young adults. But are schools responsible for producing such people? What do these people want to achieve above all else? It’s success and money and a deal with Lord sugar. What do pupils get told is important? Success in exams so you can get a well paid job and a bigger chance to hang out with famous and wealthy people.

You tell me what the difference is

Things that make me happy about teaching

Pupils, always the children

Planning a good lesson

Marking work when you can see they have both understood and engaged with what you have taught

Being asked a question you cannot answer by one of your class (even better if it is connected to what you are teaching at the time)

Planning together with another teacher

When other staff are all talking about someone who is playing up in their lessons and I have never even heard of him

Talking to my tutor group before the bell goes for morning registration

My tutor group winning something (sport or anything else)

When old pupils come back to tell me how they are doing

Getting a  smile from a pupil (or even better a group of pupils) outside of school

People choosing to do my subject at GCSE or A’Level whom i enjoy teaching

A 6th form pupil who turns out to be a fantastic person after having been a complete ar5e for most of y8-11

Finding the perfect resource, video task, plenary, lesson powerpoint or even whole lesson plan online so that I save myself an hour or two’s work

When a meeting is cancelled

August

Seeing a younger teacher I helped in the early career make progress and get promotion

Thanks from parents

Thanks from pupils

Recognition from my manager(s) – and not just that email or whole staff announcement “Well done to all those involved in Oliver! I appreciate the extra hours you put in etc etc”)

Getting a homework in on time and complete from someone who never even brings their book to class let alone does any work outside of my lesson

Things that make me angry about teaching

OFSTED

The Department of Education

When a new government gets in because the DfE then changes its philosophy

Mr Gove

Mr Twigg (who may nullify my hatred of a change of government and its effect on the DfE)

SLT that fall under OFSTED’s demands without question

Parents evenings

Heads of Department that always accept the decisions of their SLT without question, but who were running down that new idea only yesterday in the staffroom

Parents who havent set foot inside a working classroom in 20 years let alone the one their child is in, yet have decided whether I am a good teacher or not WITH NO EVIDENCE AT ALL

OFSTED gradings for single lessons

NQTs who already know how to teach better than the guy in their department that qualified before the NQT was born

PGCE tutors who havent taught properly in the last 20 years, but ‘know’ what an outstanding teacher is (see parents above)

Mini plenaries (the multiple intelligences and brain gym of 2013)

Performance management (though this could be a fantastic thing, I have never found it so)

CPD and TDDs (continuous professional development and Teacher Development days) Well I ask you, can you remember any you went to more than 12 months ago?

Teachers who insist that the tablet (especially the bloody ipad) is the answer to all of education woes

Behaviour policies written by Governors

Governors who don’t come into school between one meeting and the next. (picking up your children doesn’t count)

JUDGING A SCHOOL, A DEPARTMENT  OR A TEACHER BY THE EXAM RESULTS THE PUPILS TOOK. (You shouldn’t judge anyone by the exam results, but if you have to judge the pupils and the lives they have lived for 16 or 18 years)

Did I mention OFSTED? (I know I did)

Teachers who think they are cooler than the other teacher because they blog, tweet and carry an ipad (see above)

Its not a political thing but i cannot remember one thing the Daily Mail has ever said about schools or education in this country that i have ever agreed with (i remain open to the possibility that this will change)