I am a teacher through and through. I have wanted to be a teacher, in fact I decided aged five that that was where my future would be.
But the truth is like many others in my profession there are days I have doubts about whether I can continue.
And the truth is, that none of the reasons normally cited by unions are the reason.
It isn’t the workload.
I expected that when I went into the profession. I love planning lessons, marking my students’ books and yes even the hours spent charting progress are ones I rejoice over. I’m happy to run after school clubs and to spend breaks and lunch with the children.
It isn’t the behaviour.
All behaviour happens for a reason. And once we see that and understand the root causes are behind it anything is possible. Children are not the reason my profession struggles to recruit and retain staff.
It isn’t the money.
I mean it’s true, if I dreamed about becoming a millionaire, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to become a teacher. But, compared to lots of other professions we aren’t badly paid. I can put food on the table and a roof over our heads. Not being a millionaire is a small price to pay for doing the job I love.
It isn’t the fact that I buy most of my own resources .
I love making my classroom feel like my own, and buying things to personalise the learning for my students. If that means I have a little less to spend on other areas of my life, then it’s a sacrifice I am happy to make.
It’s the lack of back up.
When a problem arises for a student or their family, we are often the first port of call – but sometimes we lack the expertise to help. Whether it’s support from agencies like CAMHs or Social Services, or help applying for benefits or grants. It’s heartbreaking to know that all, too often families go without the support they need, especially if consequences later follow because of a lack of support.
It’s the judgement.
I’m tired of hearing professionals – and yes I definitely count those in my own profession in this number – criticise SEND families for their parenting. If you haven’t walked the walk, you shouldn’t judge how someone else follows the path. More training is desperately needed, not only to help teachers understand how to help children with SEND but also on how to work as equal partners with their families to achieve success.
It’s the lack of acknowledgement about what is needed.
I’m tired of hearing about how education is better funded than ever, because the reality on the ground is a different story. Schools are increasingly struggling to support their most vulnerable students. And that.. that’s not a world I want to be part of.
And so I say this….
If we want to end the retentions crisis, we need to look at why teachers choose to teach. And we need to enable them to make the difference they want to make. More training, a system that is fair to all children who need it and staff who are committed to fully understanding the children they work with and their families can and will effect change.
And we are more than ready for that change.