I’m a hard working teacher. I love learning, creating and delivering a meaningful lesson to students who feel they can achieve something, whatever level or subject that may be. I put in a lot of work to teach to the best of my ability, and when it works, God it feels great.
But I’m a modern-day teacher whose job isn’t really teaching. It’s data tracking. There is no problem with this; we all need to make sure we’re doing the job we’re paid pretty well for. However when it takes over everything else, surely then you’re not a teacher anymore? You’re a robot.
I’m leaving a low ability school that’s closing next year. The last six months have been incredibly difficult, as the kids are disengaged and it’s more like herding cats with blindfolds who are all high on catnip, in a desert. I’ve just had a period 5 lesson and 80% of the students did nothing, they walked around, used their phones, sang, talked, argued, and called me “peak”. Right at this moment, I hate my life.
I hate that I care. I hate that I have paid a small fortune to train to be in this profession, and by doing that have pigeonholed myself into being unemployable for any other job. I hate that I stand up in front of kids who need me the most and want me the least, leading me to hate and resent them. I hate that I have to go out of my way to prepare lessons no one cares about. I end up hating myself because I’m not a good teacher.
I’m moving to an outstanding school in September. I was really looking forward to it as the children seem keen, interested and polite. Their parents are involved and expectations are high. I can live up to expectations. However when I got there all the other teachers gave me advice, always preceded by “I shouldn’t tell you this but…” The children are great but it’s an unhappy department. It’s managed by assessment crazy people, who have done your scheme of work and some lessons for you, but want you to stick to their time and assess every year group twice a month with lengthy essays. “Marking will kill you here.” “It’s normal to be here from 7am to 7pm.” So, although I should be happy I don’t have to prepare, or I should be happy I don’t have to stand infront of ingrates and imbeciles, it’s all reversed. The creativity and passion in teaching will be leeched out of me, replaced by an assessment robot. I think I’ll end up hating myself even more.
I have asked a few teacher friends, whether it’s normal or not. I’m getting the idea that it is. I hate that, too. That people are accepting this terrible expectation that your life should revolve around the school; that their work is more important than your life. I’m only on a fixed term contract for one year, then I’ll be gone. What’s my legacy? Why is my hard work important? How will they repay me? I don’t get it – we’re teachers, not robots, not admin assistants, not data analysts. The act and art of teaching is now of secondary importance. It’s now about data and proving yourself in the form of someone else’s exam results. Where do I belong in this world? What am I really doing, because I know full well I’m not making a difference…