Is teaching really a job that we can enjoy or should we be able to enjoy? Many would say yes but growing numbers are now saying no….so if you find yourself increasingly in the latter category, just what can you do about it?
We finished part 1 of this article by physically taking a pen and paper and sitting down to write those things that were bothering us about our current teaching post….and it took the form of a list.
- What are the problems we are encountering both at school and as a knock on effect, at home?
- Where do these problems originate?
Having done this you now have potentially 2 lists which in some cases can be interlinked directly…in other words
This is a problem……and this is what is causing it!
Some problems may even have the same source, so if that is the case then interlink them on your paper.
Identify the source and take action:
If, in doing this exercise you have successfully identified your own personal “significant” problems in your teaching life and pinpointed the sources of these problems then you are in a position to do something about them.
One of the major concerns with all these things is that feeling of helplessness and of not being in control of events and situations . The very fact of taking pen and paper and writing these things down actually does start to give us that feeling of regaining some form of control and of being at the beginning of getting things back on track.
Your identified sources will be split into 2 sections:
- School based systems and requirements and the schools reaction to curricular demands
- Your own personal approach to teaching and associated practices.
Now I know that the 2 may be interlinked somewhat but for the sake of argument let’s try to split them and take a closer look….
Do I need to look again at what I am doing and how I am doing things?
With the hamster wheel that we can find ourselves in, it often takes 1 or 2 things to force us to look again at what perhaps has become “usual practice” in our lives. It may be that changes in our personal lives means that we no longer able nor wish to spend what we now see as “excessive time” on planning or marking or even taking on a post of responsibility within school. Whatever the reason – it is a good time to look across what we personally do (and may have done for a long time) and see if it now not suiting the lifestyle we wish for.
If it is not then, the only option is to make changes – things cannot stay as they are or NOTHING changes.
If you want different then you need to do different!
- How are you approaching your own organisation?
- How much time do you realistically think you should be spending on schoolwork?
- What are the vital elements in your own systems of operation and what can you streamline or discard?
Look at everything that you do and if it’s not working for you then either change it or get rid of it!
School systems and structures
Believe it or not, in this time of great concern for teacher workload, there are still schools whose systems and structures are the primary cause of this problem!
- Excessive planning requirements and formats
- Unnecessary marking schemes and time consuming systems
- Ill planned school organisational operations
In an education world where non of these should exist, unfortunately there are still schools who are causing their own problems both operationally in the way the school is run and directly on the well being of their staff.
Let me say at this point that there is no need for schools to be run this way – both the DFE and OFSTED have made statements that inform schools that workload must be at the top of school agendas and schools should actively work towards this goal.
However, if you find yourself in this situation(and don’t confuse this with the requirements of an NQT year) then you still have control over what is happening.
In this case there are 2 options that you have:
- Try to adjust your own practices to compensate and minimise the excess
- Leave – change schools….not all schools are the same and as such if you find yourself under the burden of an intransigent school then move to another!
Stress, anxiety and burnout
I am going to make brief mention here on what is developing into a real and worrying problem.
Increasing numbers of colleagues at all levels are suffering from these very serious problems as a direct result of the often overwhelming expectations within our roles.
These serious conditions affect not only colleagues in a school situation but perhaps more importantly all aspects of health and family life.
I would say however, and it is perhaps relevant in the context of this article – that colleagues thinking of returning from this sort of illness will be advised by their Doctor that changes MUST be made in their work environment. Your Doctor will advise that to return to the same environment that caused the problems is NOT medically recommended as the same results will occur but at a more serious level.
What I have tried to look at in the context of these articles are the reasons why we may not be enjoying our job as a teacher. To be honest, and I am sure most colleagues will agree, being in class and actually teaching the children is an amazing and rewarding occupation. Yet we too often find ourselves ground down by the associated or behind the scenes requirements that weigh down on the role. It is at these times we do need to lift our heads and actually take positive action to redress the balance in our lives which too easily can be lost in the melee.
Having spent many many years in teaching at all levels, there were definite times when I had to purposely and often forcibly reset the balance and I am sure without having done so, would not have been able to have such a long career in the profession.
So, be positive but be strong and make sure that you address the things that you feel need to be addressed and put them firmly in their place. Having that element of control and getting back some balance will, I am sure, put you on the road to enjoying your job once again.