Let’s just start off by saying I am a teacher, so when I talk about teaching, I know what I am talking about! Just thought I’d get that out there!
I remember doing my dissertation and extolling the virtues of teaching as a noble profession. Don’t get me wrong. I still think it’s a noble profession, but oh how it has changed! What has changed? I hear you ask. Everything. I think perhaps the only 2 variables that remain the same are:
But I repeat, everything has changed! When I entered the profession over 20 years ago I enjoyed planning my lessons, preparing my teaching aids, delivering the lessons and marking students work DURING my “FREES”. That was bliss.
Now, I still do all that but the majority of it (except the teaching) is done at home in my time. There is now so much additional paper work associated with teaching! So many emails, behaviour management referrals, data analysis requests etc etc. It is impossible to find so many hours in the work day to complete it all. So when I hear others moaning about teachers having too much time off I shake my head and if I can, I explain why this is time in lieu.
As to marking, I much prefer the days when the only things marked were tests, assessments, exams or quizzes. Now there is “mark everything” and an associated 10 page marking policy which must be read and remembered and followed and oh by the way, next term the policy changes, and before the school year ends, it might change again. Absolutely stupid I say! The goal posts just keep changing! Talking about goal posts, let’s talk a bit about exam results.
I was watching the news today (the day of the GCSE exam results) and sat in awe listening to students talk about their results. Me? I rejoice with those who rejoice and the others, I rejoice also that they got what they worked for. Anyway, on the news some who didn’t get good results were saying they didn’t like most of the subjects they did but had to do them anyway. In fact, there was one young man who said the only two subjects he got reasonable grades for are the two subjects where he had ‘things’ to do namely PE and IT. Therein lies part of the problem. As teachers we are required to put on a big ‘singing and dancing circus act’ to ‘engage’ the students but if the nature of the subject requires that they write (most subjects do), then the act was in vain because some don’t like writing at all and the results show that.
I’ve also had the opportunity to mark examination scripts on behalf of a number of examining bodies in a number of countries and this lack of interest in writing is quite evident. You would think some teachers had prepared them by saying ‘write the bare minimum. That’s all that is required!’ I know they haven’t but looking at some of these scripts would give that impression.
I’m a member of a number of online teaching groups and I’m always struck by the expressions of fear from teachers as the time for the results draw near. I mean, you would think it is their GCSE and not the students’. To think that some of the students don’t give a hoot about the results! So I’ve taken the view that I have done my best, the rest is up to them. I do not worry about the results. I work hard during the year and on the night before exam results I go to bed and have a good sleep. Go to school on results day and rejoice with those who do well and …..
You know what I think; there is not enough real incentive, in this country at least, to make these students want to do their best. Before you shoot me, here’s what I mean. If you work hard, do your best, get good grades, go to college then university, it means working hard again, graduating, working hard to make a good living to be able to afford the things in life you want. On the other hand, you can be lazy, behave badly, bad mouth teachers, decide you want no GCSE, nothing to do with college or university end up getting a free house/apartment to live in with your girlfriend/boyfriend and or baby(ies), have most of your living expenses paid for you, and on top, get some money to fund your various habits. They have sussed out the system and know they can get it to work for them. So as a teacher, you are there trying your best to get through to the others who want to do well and there are those there who are absolutely certain that they are going to get their council flat regardless!
Most don’t know what teachers are up against! Targets, oppressive leaders who are themselves being oppressed, looming Ofsted visits, poor behaviour, abusive parents, very little family life, time doing extra free after school support etc.
In the early days of teaching, my free sessions were mine to do what I want. Now, free session? What’s that? There is no such thing these days. One might have a session on one’s timetable which says ‘free’ but trust me! It isn’t going to be free!
I’m all for equality and fairness and rights and all that. Here is where I draw the line. I believe that some students should not be educated in main stream schools. Some I know are opposed to this because they think that not having all students educated together somehow infringes their human rights! Nonsense. Some students (for whatever reason) hinder the progress of others. Straight up. So why risk that happening? Especially when teachers are hounded for results?
On another note, there are students in the system whose behaviour is so out of control and they show no interest at all in your subject. They are there because no one else wants them in their lesson. They disrupt, they are not afraid of any form of punishment and nothing tried with them work for long. One of the frustrating things is when you ask for them to be removed due to their disruptive nature, they remain on the register and disrupt the learning of others, then near to exam time they are allowed to ‘drop’ the subject. All the damage has been done and them dropping the subject means nothing really to you and your class as you are told they are still your responsibility so you must still ‘house’ them. You just can’t win. In the first place, they should not have been there!
Call me naive if you want but I don’t think there is any teacher who wants bad for his/her students. I therefore don’t understand the psyche of some parents who seem to think teachers want ‘bad’ for their children. Most teachers I know have had some form of abuse from parents, be it through nasty notes, telephone calls, and emails or straight to the face at parents consultation evenings! I have personally received my unfair share. I remember years gone by when it was such a pleasure to work with parents. And it sometimes is still a pleasure but not with all parents.
The parents are one thing but there are also nasty principals and other senior management members who seem to forget that they once faced the struggles we do. Read about one teacher’s experience that almost put her in a mental institution!
During school holidays, I often see parents out with their children lamenting the fact that they have to take care of them whilst teachers are with their own families. Funny! That’s how I know some parents see teachers not just as teachers but also as baby sitters! Please! They are your kids! You take care of them.
I sometimes feel sorry for cover/supply/substitute teachers! The odds are certainly stacked against them in so many respects. Here is a post written to give supply teachers some tips and support.
Do I still love teaching? The short answer is yes, but not as much as I did before. Did you think teachers went through all this? I would love to hear what your views are because I’ve completely run out of ways to continue to enjoy this thing (teaching) for much longer. Now I prefer to be a blogger actually. And I am so glad that I stumbled upon a course called Elite Blog Academy! It certainly is Elite and could not have come at a better time for us! This course has been a game changer for us, with easy to follow steps on how to run your own blog and business from scratch. I wish more of my friends were bloggers. We could share some awesome content with each other.