Stop saying teachers have it easy. We don’t
Six week holidays are a myth
They say “If you can’t do, teach”. They say the hours are easy, we get too much holiday and the job is simple – like going back to school. I’ve had cutting comments from friends and have read enough anti-teacher remarks online to be convinced I’m wasting my career, my degree and throwing my life away. I’m not.
Think of teaching like a real job, but a lot more extreme.
Imagine giving four business presentations a day
And all in front of a boardroom who mostly don’t want to be there, and couldn’t care less about Newton’s third law of motion – on top of your full time job. My day starts at six, getting to school at half eight ready for the kids 15 minutes later. The students might get away with a nine to half three day but teachers don’t. I get home at six and can finally get started on the piles of marking and planning. The random staff meetings are a pain and a child will always decide to have breakdown at the worst possible moments, which can throw your day entirely off balance. The TV shows don’t help. It’s nothing like Bad Education, so stop asking.
Ofsted is hell on earth
No teacher ever forgets this. It’s so much worse than any other job performance review because a lot is completely out of our control. The marking and the books all have to be perfect. Every single piece of data on tests needs to be tracked. If a year 10 decides to be hormonal and weird then you get all of the blame. It’s increasingly normal for teachers to put in more than 30 hours for the two days Ofsted are in.
Friends say, “all the holidays must be so nice”
We don’t get all those holidays. There are lesson plans, marking, going through the data, meetings and extra training to do. You’re also wrong if you think the pay is good. Compare it to other grad jobs like KPMG and we’re earning far less with the same levels of stress. Just think about the extra responsibility we have. I teach science, and a child once claimed they’d eaten a toxic crystal. I had to fill in the paperwork, explain everything to all the staff and the child went to A&E. It then turned out she’d lied about the whole thing, which happens a lot. It sounds a bit dramatic but for eight hours a day we really are responsible for making sure hundreds of kids don’t die.
There’s the misconception that we’re all a bit boring or weird for wanting to go back to school
Not the case. When a kid is getting in my face, annoyed and swearing it would be easy to quit and take an office job. Some do. But it’s about those mini wins. Passing on a nugget of information, somebody coming back to apologise and really getting through which make every career choice I’ve ever made worthwhile.
It’s painful realising you’re not as young as you think you are, and it’s too easy to fall into the trap of making dad jokes, wanting to be funny when you’re not. No matter how hard you work they don’t see you as a 20 something. I asked some Year 7s their thoughts on my age and they said I was 30.
And then there’s judgements like, “why aren’t you working at KPMG like everyone else from your class?”
There are the career related questions I get from my friends who work in the City. In short it’s because I didn’t want to have my soul sucked out. I didn’t want to move to Clapham and be in that weird bubble of pretend life. It sounds cheesy but teachers are cheesy – I love my subject. To see so much misinformation published like “Muslims cause cancer” means education is more important than ever.
As told to Jack Cummings by Monica, a teacher from London.