Secret Teacher: I love my job but why does it feel like I’m the only one

When I tell people that I’m a primary school teacher, they often react in one of two ways. The first is a sort of mock admiration. “Wow! Good for you!” they say, but then look baffled when you explain you teach all subjects – not just colouring in – and don’t leave work until well after 3.30pm. The Secret Teacher writes in The Guardian.

For the first two years of my career, I was one of those teachers who hated their job. Fresh-faced and enthusiastic from my PGCE, I tried to differentiate between teaching and the rest of the job. It wasn’t the teaching I hated, it was everything I had to do before 9am and after 3.30pm. 

I didn’t mind planning, it was the marking that was overwhelming. In a typical day, each of the 30 children I taught was expected to produce three pieces of written work, all of which had to be commented on in two different colours. We also had to change displays constantly, duplicate assessment information, and chase coach companies about school trips.

It wasn’t all bad. The children were wonderful and I made good friends with colleagues. But when we had enough energy to go to the pub on a Friday night, we talked about when we’d leave the school, not if. Many were considering leaving the profession altogether.

Then I moved to a school that changed my mind.

Like all schools, it’s not without its problems. There’s still the frustration of having to record drama or PE learning in books, just in case Ofsted shows up. There’s still the fear that I’m going to put children off writing by all this talk of fronted adverbials. I dreaded my first pupil progress meeting – in my old school it would drive teachers to tears. But as long as you explain each child’s situation – maybe there’s something going on at home that prevents them from doing well in a particular test – the headteacher here understands. Not only that, she congratulates you on the progress they’ve made, even when it’s not shown by the data.

We are not an “Outstanding” school, but we have something about us many schools do not. Supply teachers and visitors comment on how happy everyone seems. At the end of the last school year, not a single class teacher left. The majority of teaching assistants who left did so to train as teachers. While almost all of my peers from the PGCE course I took five years ago have already left the profession, there are teachers in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s at my school.

For now though, I can’t believe my luck. When we go to the pub on a Friday night, we can’t stop talking about how great our school is.

Read the full article Secret Teacher: I love my job but why does it feel like I’m the only one

Do you love your job? Do you feel the love from your school? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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