This was written in response to a news story about teachers having breakdowns, and the following Yahoo 'discussion' about teachers and the fact that we have such cushy jobs we shouldn't be stressed. Ever.
I trained as a teacher, I worked 3 jobs whilst I was training, I completed my course and didn't have a teaching job to go straight into, so I worked the summer in a factory, with weekends working in a pub, then did supply work alongside agency work in picking and packing. I worked every summer until my third year of teaching.
I've done "real world" as it is so sweetly referred to. I've done factory work and secretarial work and waitressing and shop work and teaching, and everything I've done I put 100% into it. The difference is, that with the other jobs, I got some appreciation of a job well done. I got tips, or bonuses, or a compliment from the management. With teaching, whilst I get job satisfaction from knowing my children have progressed and been in a safe and well loved environment that has nurtured their growing and independence, I get nothing but hassle from the management team because there is physically not enough time to get everything done. And it's not their fault, the hassle comes from the head, who gets it from the SIP who gets it from the Authority, who gets it from DFES, who gets it from a think tank somewhere that has never, ever been in a school.
In the last 5 years the change in teaching styles with the installation of Interactive WhiteBoards (put in by the county in many cases, with a complete disregard for teachers and their opinions and how it impacts their children), the ever changing assessment criteria, the alterations in the teaching of literacy and numeracy, given with little or no training, the increased in the use of League tables by people who don't understand Contextual Value Added, all of these things have placed huge pressure on teachers. I do not know of another profession where the amount of change is the same as that which teachers have forced upon them term by term.
I don't have discipline problems in my classroom - there were, and I dealt with them. I had to defend my views and actions to the parent who had been told a pack of lies by the child, and who later admitted that they were wrong and didn't want to get into trouble at home, but I dealt with the problems in my room, my way. I took a risk doing that. I have a high number of special needs children, and I deal with them, in my way, with the support of the TA's, and they are making progress. But that takes 3 hours of my weekend, every weekend, and that's just 3 children of my 31. The others take more time, and I accept that.
I have a family, a small son of my own, with the pressures that everyone has in the current financial situation.
It's not about the money (these days I'm happy to have a secure job that I love!) it's not about the workload (Lots of jobs start at 7am and finish at 4pm, with 3-4 hours of work in the evening battling yet another new initiative or programme), it's not about the children and parents (every job has people who are hard to work with and people who we love to work with), it's the utter lack of appreciation for anything that we do as teachers.
I appreciate doctors, nurses, binmen, shop workers, shelf stackers, taxi drivers, people who make tv, most journalists, air traffic control, policemen, stay-at-home mothers and fathers, bank workers, soldiers, naval personnel, airmen and women, fishermen, lorry drivers, social workers, pharmacists, and anyone else who is doing the best they can for themselves and the world around them. I don't bitch about the fact that they can book a day off when they want to, can take a day sick leave without having to plan the work, send it in, and mark it the next day, I don't complain about shops opening late for training purposes, or when the queue in the post office goes on for an hour. I get on with it, and appreciate each individual, knowing that they have a private life, they have stresses and worries and hassles of their own, and it is not right for me to take out my own frustrations on them.
Why is it so hard for other people to do that for teachers?