Teaching. It’s a bit of a funny job really. You get berated publicly for both working too much and working too little (I never want to hear ‘oh you only work part time EVER again), the profession gets weekly internal and external damnings (yes I’m looking at you The Guardian) and because everyone has been to school at least once, everyone is an expert, meaning there’s a lot of baloney said about us all the time.
Despite all this, this week I am SO excited to get back in the classroom and here’s a few reasons why!
The Students (duh)
Whenever I’ve stressed about work, it has never been because of my classes. I love working with kids. They are 1000 x funnier than adults and are the best bit of every day. I love that they just say things how they see them (‘so Macbeth is just shankin’ people? Can the Queen do that now? Is that why she has a big sword?’ was a golden moment). They marvel at how you remember all this ‘stuff’ and they are the kindest, most thoughtful people (like when my Year 11s topped up my rice cake & almond butter stash after they scoffed them in a revision session/cheered me when I passed my final SCITT obs) and you build such great bonds with them. Praise is essential (even for the big ones) and long term you realise that what you put in with them, you do get back. I have never had a day working with students where I haven’t laughed and I don’t know in what other job that happens.
Every Day is Different
I bet a lot of you, like me, have done your time in mundane jobs. I put in my 7 years of retail and whole weeks went past which sort of all just melted into one long day. It is not like that at school. I literally don’t know what could happen on any given day and that stops me from being worn and keeps my energy levels high. Obviously, sometimes it’s a bad thing but at least the variance is there – no one ever threw glue or made up a rap about Shakespeare when I was selling furniture!
I think we need goals. You need to have something to aim for and every single day with every single class has a goal. You want them to leave school able to articulate, read, speak, write and listen to a good level that won’t impede their chances of getting a job. The only thing I cared about on Thursday was the students themselves. Data analysis is important but it can wait. I was focused on whether or not they had what they needed to get on to their next steps. If not, what can I do to help? Nothing is without purpose in a class room and that is so exciting to me.
Find me a teacher who doesn’t go in to school every time they’re sick. I don’t think they exist. People drag themselves in because maybe they can’t let their exam classes down or maybe one of their tutees is struggling right now or one of the other millions of reasons we’re so committed. The bonds with the students matter as much to us as they do to them. Having a class for a year isn’t a light responsibility and to make it work you need to commit to making it a success.
Sometimes those bonds are important for you, too. I recently went through a parental divorce (as in we unofficially divorced each other) and I felt I was falling apart for a while. I’m not the kind of person to bring that to school and so I showed up every day smiling because of my classes. They needed their teacher and I needed to be that too. I felt I was rewarded for getting on with it by having great lessons.
We get judged on it anyway, so we might as well enjoy it! Now maybe I’m wrong but I see holidays as lieu time. We all work very, very hard. We do not work 9-3 and then spend the rest of the time shopping on our enormous salaries (because we only get paid for about 32 hours of the working week for 39 weeks of the year). You EARN those holidays. From Easter to July, I was rarely without a massive pile of exams to mark and I didn’t mind, because you get that time back in the holidays. I see the holidays as equivalent to a shop’s closing time: it’s when we restock our personal shelves and clean up ready for the next lot of trade.
As a random side note, I also LOVE not working Christmas Eve. I did loads of them and it made me like a tiny Scrooge.
Other things I love:
I love seeing what other people are making/doing/getting jealous over primary classrooms. I find it so much nicer than ol’ doom mongering Facebook (seriously, no one is making you do this job. You can leave at any time).
#sorrynotsorry for all of the stickers, notebooks and adorable pen and highlighter combos I now own.
Talking about something I love all day and getting people hyped about caesuras.
I actually think these are where I come into my own. I’d do them all day, I love the slightly calmer re-cap nature of them. Last year I had various mixes of other classes in mine (I think they heard about the snacks) and it was lovely to have a different bunch of abilities and voices whilst we really worked on Q3.
When students recommend books or when they read my recommendations:
One of my lovely eggs wrote ‘your legacy is The Handmaid’s Tale’ in her leaving card to me and I definitely did a little air-punch of happiness. Also got a Year 9 to read Nineteen Eighty-Four after we did Animal Farm (yep, I’m secretly dripping dystopias into young minds all across Surrey).
I actually adore the whole a-new-class-every-hour thing. I love seeing 150 kids a day. I always have the energy for it, even when I’m on my 27th lemsip of the week!