Maybe, Perhaps, Probably.
After 22 years teaching in primary schools, I resigned this summer. I am 44. I am a good teacher. I love teaching so what went wrong?
Maybe I am just burnt out? Perhaps after 22 years teaching full time in the classroom takes its toll on us? I wonder if we struggle more with our mental health the longer we stay in the classroom?
Maybe having my own children (who are at primary school) has created a conflict of interest and I now find it hard to balance the two. Perhaps, I spend more time thinking about the children at school than my own children? Actually I know I do.
Maybe I worry about how teaching is affecting my mental and physical health. Perhaps leaving teaching will have a massive, positive effect on my wellbeing and overall happiness.
Maybe I want to feel like I’ve actually had a good nights sleep? Perhaps my mental ‘to do list’ is too overwhelming at times and creates unnecessary anxiety?
Maybe I crave to have more time to invest in myself, friends and family instead of doing school work most nights at home. Perhaps I want to enjoy Sundays with my family without thinking about all the work I need to cram in at some point during the day?
Maybe going through a personal family tragedy has somehow affected my priorities and no longer care as much about certain aspects of the job? Perhaps it has put aspects of the job more into prospective and I’ve realised it’s only a job; a job that is actually too hard to sustain at the levels expected without encroaching on time at home.
Maybe it’s because I tire more easily as I’ve become older? Perhaps I just don’t have the same level of energy and ‘get up and go’ as I used to and that affects my day to day enthusiasm?
Maybe I am fed up with being micro managed to such a point it feels suffocating? Perhaps the lack of trust and autonomy has simply demotivated me?
Maybe I don’t like being told how to use my display boards and how and when to mark books? Perhaps I am fed up with countless learning walks and observations where I have to be seen to be doing particular things SLT want to see?
Maybe I am tired of being told progress is too slow or not good enough and then interrogated in pupil progress meetings, grilling me as to what I am doing about it? Perhaps I am angry that pupil progress is mostly about data from countless tests?
Maybe it was because a particular headteacher destroyed the confidence of many teachers at one school I worked at (who all had a proven track record of good teaching) because he was under pressure to show his impact? Perhaps I never recovered from that experience and I am still shocked that schools could be run like this?
Maybe I am fed up of being told what fads SLT want to see in lessons followed by the inevitable feedback on how to do them better? (most of which are not based on research or years of experience). Perhaps I feel confused as to what I should be doing in lessons now and feel restricted in how I want to deliver lessons naturally?
Maybe I don’t want to use particular coloured slides or resources that we have to use? Perhaps I don’t want to follow a particular scheme of work because it’s poor but I am told I have to?
Maybe I find the introduction of initiative after initiative a little tedious now? Perhaps I’ve seen it all before and just want to be able to use my professional judgement?
Maybe I don’t want my books to be scrutinised every few weeks to see if I am following the book non-negotiables? Perhaps I want SLT to look at the progress first and congratulate me on my teaching rather than on how often I have deep marked and what colour pens I use?
Maybe I just don’t have the same patience dealing with challenging behaviour from pupils? Perhaps I want to feel more respected and supported by parents?
Maybe I am too expensive to move schools? Perhaps UPS teachers are being made to feel they’re not good enough and being pressurised to leave?
I’m not sure if it’s any of those things inparticular. I wonder if it’s a culmination of all them? Probably.
I was recently asked what would need to happen for me to return to teaching? I thought about it for a few seconds. This is what I said.
- Complete autonomy over how I mark and give feedback to pupils.
- For progress to be the only thing a book scrutiny looks at – and less of them!
- Complete autonomy over how I want to use my display boards and how I present my learning environment.
- To have the freedom to use my experience in the classroom and knowledge gained from research to deliver lessons how I see fit. I don’t want to be told what lessons must look like.
- Why does consistency mean everyone does the same? I want the freedom to branch off.
- I want to sit pupils how I want to.
- I want to feel trusted and respected as a teacher. Learning walks and unannounced drop ins have become excessive.
There are signs that schools are beginning to change (my recent school especially) but for the moment, I need to recharge and reinvest in myself and my own family before I entertain the idea of returning. If at all.