When you’re in the throes of the school term it’s easy to think about the next holiday. To look forward with excitement to that dreamlike last ringing of the bell signalling the time to pack up and go home. Of course, that’s normal. Teaching is a hard job. It’s relentless and frustrating.
It’s easy to feel grumpy about the growing pile of marking or the lessons to plan or the afterschool meetings. It’s easy to tolerate those things knowing that your bills are paid, and again the holidays are not too far away.
A few weeks ago I was feeling like this. Then realized that it’s my responsibility to find and sustain my enjoyment in the job. No one else is going to do that for me. I need to remind myself frequently of the reasons I chose to do it and the passion that sustained me through those first few years.
It wasn’t that long ago I worked so hard to qualify as a teacher. At that time I was totally fired up for it. I would work late into the night preparing for the school day as well as working other jobs to pay for it all. To complete the training and NQT years I must have been totally inspired.
It is really easy to slip into that negative thought process though. To consider teaching as something that needs to be done to sustain your lifestyle.
“Yeah it’s not bad, there’s always a holiday to look forward to.”
That’s not the way I want to think. I don’t want to do something for the money. The things I choose to do have to be their own reward. Teaching is not just the gaps between the holidays, teaching is the point.
The transformative nature of education. Of course, some students and the politics which surrounds teaching can be frustrating, but watching young people grow in front of your eyes is fantastic. It’s a privilege to be able to see those students who work hard, those who learn and develop, move forward and succeed. It’s easy to forget this because you’re there every day. It’s also a reminder of the effect education has had on me, both as a teacher and a student myself.
Being part of a team. The team I work as part of is essential. There’s no way I would be able to do the job I do without them. Having the support of the teachers in the department and across the school is so important. It’s also great to contribute to something bigger than yourself. To be part of a larger whole. This is something I hold very close and something I know in any other job I’d miss terribly.
The daily and annual routine. I know that I’m totally absorbed in the annual cycle of the school. I pretty much always have been and maybe always will be. I mean, I’ve never not been involved in education in some way. I think that this is a structure I’d miss if I didn’t have it. It keeps me in focus. It keeps me motivated and inspired.
Creativity. If you have time for it, teaching can be infinitely creative. This made me think that I need to take more time to be creative in my teaching. I love planning lessons when I have the time. I think because I’ve taught a lot of the lessons before, I’ve just been pulling them out of the bank rather than really thinking about the best and most inspiring way to deliver the content. I’m going to consider this over the next few weeks.
Teaching is a secure and well-respected job. Although this isn’t a reason to enjoy something in itself, it is important and will probably become more important as I get older. I don’t earn massive amounts of money through teaching, but I earn enough to get by. It is the sort of job I can do for a long time if I need to.
It reminds me of a story I heard a few weeks back about the two bricklayers working on the same project. One was really frustrated that he was building a wall. The other was inspired because what he was part of a team constructing a cathedral.
I need to be the teacher who looks for that future. Who looks for the cathedral in my work, even when the classroom is stuffy and the students really don’t want to know about the conventions of gothic literature.
Teaching is not just the gaps between the holidays, teaching is the point.
What does teaching bring to you?
How do you keep inspired?