From the archive: On education – Dear Britain… [from a teacher doing her best]
I’m sorry you think I have let you down. I thought I was doing a good job and that you respected my efforts. I thought you weren’t serious about the holidays, after all my pay reflects this. I thought you understood that a contracted teaching day of five one-hour lessons, only reflects my contact time with students, not my total working hours. I thought you knew that planning lessons takes a lot of time, creativity and ingenuity and that there is a lot of marking to be done at weekends.
I thought you believed I was doing the best for our children; that I was fighting the exam machine with all my might and teaching our children to think for themselves and to enjoy learning for learning’s sake.
I thought we were on the same side and that you realised I can’t fix all the problems in society, only ameliorate the damage. I thought you understood this phoney war between us was borne out of political ambition and a need to apportion blame for the effects of deep cuts to provision.
If education is the football then we are the grass, gouged and churned by the players who come and go in a perpetual reshuffle.
I can’t do this job alone. I can’t make our children want to learn all by myself. I need your help. I need you on my side. My job and yours is to hold a steady course, to not be distracted by lurid headlines, to remember we want the same thing.
If you really think about it, I am damned either way. If results improve it is because of grade inflation, and if they don’t it must be my fault.
I don’t do this job for the grades or the holidays or the pension. I do this job because I love teaching and it is something I believe I am good at. I do this job because working with teenagers is exhilarating and challenging and hilarious and I get a huge amount of satisfaction from seeing them succeed. I do this job because I love sharing the passion for my subject and seeing the same passion ignited in my students.
I hope this letter goes someway to repairing our relationship and the next time you read about how inadequate I am, you consider the intent behind the words.
Despite the relentless negative press stories and attacks on my professionalism, pay, pension and conditions of service, I can’t think of any other job I would rather do.
I’m not perfect. I admit I get things wrong. Not every lesson I teach is ‘outstanding’. I have my off days and occasionally I get behind on my marking, but I am in this job for the right reasons and I am trying to do the very best I can.
A secondary school teacher
Courtesy of Juliet O’Callaghan at Juliet O’Callaghan writes
Sign-up for the Guerilla Daily newsletter – the best frontline and independent blogs every week day.