Why I love teaching.

The content of this blog may be a little against the tide at the moment, but I think that’s the reason why this needs to be written.

All the little wins.

There are so many in teaching and they come from so many different places:
The parent who takes the time to thank you for supporting their child. I’ll always remember the phone call I got from the parents of a boy in my GCSE class. He’d gone through a tough time and suffered badly from anxiety & had become a school refuser. But I got him through his coursework & exam with a pass grade. It meant the world to me when I received that phone call and both his mum & dad wanted to thank me for all I did. It was so lovely to know that they appreciated the work, effort & care I had put in to their son so that he got a pass grade. They weren’t worried about it being a D when he was targeted a B, they were just grateful that I hadn’t given up on their boy.

Hearing students encourage other students. Is there really anything better than this? It shows me that they care about each other as well as what we’re trying to do in the class. But it does get better… Hearing them encouraging (and sometimes reprimanding) each other using my phrases. It makes me smile & chuckle but it lets me know that they are listening to me & that they are on the same page as me.

Students trusting me with their personal creative writing. It means so much to me when students bring me their own writing. As an English teacher and a writer (although lapsed at the moment) I get so passionate about young writers and developing them. But when a teen takes the scary step of showing someone their work and that someone is me, I feel so privileged.

Students taking the time to say thank you. And I’m not talking about the polite “Thanks miss” as they leave. I’m talking about when a student takes time to thank you for being their teacher. It doesn’t have to be accompanied with a gift and / or card but the fact that a typically grumpy, surly & embarrassed teen has acknowledged that they are grateful to you is huge!

The camaraderie between staff. There is a bond between school staff which many outside of the school building wouldn’t understand. We always have a common enemy: the toe rag who disrupts every lesson; the parent who believes teachers love nothing more than bullying their darling, butter-wouldn’t-melt child; Ofsted; government. You know the old saying, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ But it goes beyond that, we cheer each other up and encourage each other. Not to mention help plan lessons with each other (even if it’s a different subject to our own) because we hate to see our colleague struggling to find the best idea to deliver the same old material.

“Miss, I finally get it!” Music to my ears! 5 simple words which mean so much. They mean: a child has pride in their accomplishment; hard work pays off, theirs & mine; I did my job right; that student will trust me in the future if we tackle another challenging unit.

There is a lot of negativity around teaching at the moment and it makes it hard to see all the brilliant, amazing and wonderful moments that make up teaching.

Fighting that sinking feeling.

I need to start this by saying that I love my job. I love teaching so much. There are so many reasons why that it would become its own blog but that’s not my intent today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write that blog; the yin & yang of teaching?

The only ‘real’ job I’ve ever had has been teaching and I know some may judge me for this but I could never imagine doing anything else from the age of 14 (I know, I’m that sad!) However, I’m questioning my profession, my job & myself more than I’ve ever done before.

Let’s start with the Gove…
He is only doing what he thinks is best for the UK, education & our students. (Ducks many, many projectiles)
But that is the reality of it. He’s doing what he thinks is best. Problem is he doesn’t know enough to know that sometimes he’s wrong. So very, very wrong.

I have this amazing class: 11B3. I’ve blogged about their progress & our fight for grades before (and will again before the holiday is out). 10 students: 8 E grade targets; 1 D target & 1 C target. They are working their arses off at the moment: coming behind after school; doing English work in subjects that are finished and not pratting around / truanting like their mates (mostly): coming in during the holidays; going on residential exam prep courses. I couldn’t get my top set of 2 years ago to work this hard! But it breaks my heart every time I give them a piece of work with a D on it and myself & the TA are the only ones celebrating. I know I can see the pay off for hard work & sacrifice (and the value added) but all they hear is a thousand voices telling them it’s not good enough because it’s not a C: telling them they’re not good enough because they’re not a C grade student.
Thank you Mr. Gove.

The war all teachers are currently fighting is bringing me down as well.
I don’t mean pensions or PRP but the one we blindly walked in to with the public.
Since we started fighting for our rights we walked in to a trap. And, to be honest, I think that was always the plan. Think about it: the Education Secretary has a background in media. He’s an ass but he’s savvy.
Everybody knows schools. Everybody knows teachers. Everybody knows what’s wrong with both of them. Why wouldn’t they? Everybody spent 11 years of their life, at least, in a school.
Problem is that as students we didn’t know what the teachers really did. We thought that they went to far off sunny places every holiday. We thought they went home at 3 to put their feet up & laugh at all the mugs who worked till 5. We thought it was easy. These are the teachers who are demanding more money. These are the teachers who are hurting children’s education & parents’ jobs by striking in the eyes of Joe Public … Oh, and the media.

And I could go on about the paperwork, marking, admin, behaviour issues etc etc but I’d sound like I was whining and that’s not the point of this blog post.

So what is the point of my post this morning?

Quite simply it’s this question:
How do we solve the two problems I wrote about?

Not on an individual scale with our classes and our friends & family. But how do we really change it, on a National level? We’ve done strikes & attempted to work to the letter of our contracts, but it’s not worked. So what’s next?

How do we fight the sinking feeling? How do we make this a world when an E grade student is celebrated for his D? How do we make this a world where Joe Public & educators are not at war but fighting for education & students together?

Am I just being naive?

I hope not. And to be truthful I don’t believe I am, if I did I don’t think I’d get out of bed in the morning and go to work.

My husband told me the other day that he’d always imagined I’d quit teaching and go into a position where I could affect education for all students some day. I’d never considered it; never saw myself in that type of role. Never imagined teaching would ever get like this or that teachers would ever feel so low.
But now I keep playing his words through my head and wondering if there’s more I can be doing now, at this moment in my career, to make sure it’s better for 11B3 and all the students just like them who are waiting to be told they’re not good enough because they don’t have enough fight to exceed their target, their potential, by 2 grades instead of 1?

Just an early morning Easter holiday pondering…;