I LOVED TEACHING. I feel the need to capitalise that statement because so many people, teachers included, are jaded and critical of teaching. But I loveddd it. I enjoyed it when I trained as an RE teacher 8 years ago, then I really liked being in the classroom for the first couple of years, then, in my final few years, LOVE was cemented. There are not many roles in which one enjoys the intellectual stimulation of research, critical thinking and deep analysis of topics as far flung as necrophilia (yep, we went there!), Platonic views of reality, why God made wasps-oh, and the ‘meaning of life’. A job where one is instructor & social-worker, lecturer & friendship-mender, prison warden & mother, academic mentor & life coach, actor & editor, entertainer & counsellor, researcher & preacher, make-up adviser & agony-aunt, administrator & mass tea-maker nearly every single day! (Oh and of course an art-displayer and sport’s day coach and cheerleader!)
My heart SWELLS when I remember hugging pupils (sod what the rules say-crying children need hugs!). I gave fist pumps when I struggling pupils got that C they needed, or when I saw the shiny stars accompanying the A of hard-workers who made the library their new abode for exam season. I grieved when troubled children were expelled because people didn’t know (didn’t want to know?) how to help them but I knew that they knew that I saw their worth. I felt more pride for pupils’ finally ‘getting it’ than I do for my own degrees. And no one who hasn’t taught can understand the feelings of despair when they don’t get it no matter how many diagrams and youtube links you employ or lunch breaks you give up…nor the JOY that comes when they finallllly do!
Teaching is worthy. It is a labour of LOVE love LOVE. I loved the intellectual engagement, the curiosity and challenge, the variation that each day brings (even though you’re following the same timetable and teaching the same people-no day is ever the same as the next). No one can explain the GRACE that teenagers can show when you’re unwell, or they can just somehow smell that you’re upset (even though you put your ‘teacher face’ on!); and no one can explain how they can level you with meanness if they sense you don’t like them. Because, like us all, pupils want to be loved.
Obvs teaching is not all hugs and gifts of chocolate-oh the marking, the data, the behaviour management, the exhaustion, the whiny colleagues, the whinier students, the misguided leadership, the ambition-obsessed peers, the challenging parents, and the constant demand to give, GIVE, and give more more more.
But whilst it is not the job for me for now-I doubt there is a more important and fulfilling (and demanding) job under the sun.
And if you’re curious ‘what teachers make’…check this fab clip out!