Why will I be joining the droves of teachers leaving the profession? Do I not love and care for the career I spent four years training for? In short, yes and in long no.
Of course I will miss the moments where a child gets something for the first time or where they tell you they love being in your class. I will miss the stupid moments in the staffroom that cause tears of laughter and the comments in the classroom that create the same response. Making a difference to a child and knowing that the have developed due to me will be something I will miss for the rest of my life but to say I have brought happiness to a child is no longer worth the hours of anguish it brings to me.
This year I have been told by parents that their child is a completely different child, that their sparkle has returned and that they are doing more now than they ever thought possible. It is comments like that which make teaching almost seem worth it but within the same day I had another parent complain to me because their child had lost something, something they should not have bought in and something I had told them to put in their locker. I have received comments from trained professionals about how my teaching is above where they would expect it to be and from others I have been told it is below that. My work load is never complete and right now I feel guilty for posting this instead of working. It is 8pm, I have been working since 7am and tomorrow will be the same, just as Saturday and Sunday was.
I feel incompetent in class when I am constantly trying to chase my heels and I feel as though I am no longer doing my job as well as I could be. I spend more of my day jumping through hoops and ticking boxes than I do teaching the children. Surely it should be the other way around? Schools are generous and they give you PPA time but by the time it has started and ended you feel as though your list has only gotten longer. A genuine list I took home one weekend had 19 things to do on it and not one of those was personal.
Last year I needed to visit the dentist and had to wait 6 weeks before I could go as any kind of personal care has to wait until the holidays. I feel selfish if I am ill and dread the thought of planning for cover. I can not visit friends when they have midweek gatherings or, like they did last year, when they go to a festival or on holiday during term time. A close friend of mine had to miss one of her best friend's weddings because her school wouldn't allow the time off.
Teaching is the best job in the world if you are willing to sacrifice big elements of your life to do so. Perhaps I have not worked out the balance, maybe I need to work out how to juggle it all better, or maybe it is time to change career? I know one thing for certain, regaining my life will mean losing my career and it is the best decision I have ever made.
To you dear government, please remember that under all your policy changes, paperwork, hoops and ideals there are real people trying to work out how they will cope with it all. If you want to make a real change then get real teachers to guide you, not statisticians and politicians.
With love as always,
- A Twenty Something