It’s not a 9 to 5
It’s not even a 7 to 3 – the bell may ring for the students, but it almost never rings for you. When you aren’t marking books, sorting out classes for the next week and printing off worksheets that would probably tower over you if they were stacked up, you’re scouring YouTube and Google well into the night for lesson-friendly content. Academia aside, the best teachers also know that what happens at school never stays at school: from worrying about students meeting targets to being the main port of call for any difficulties they may face, everything you’re approached for buzzes away in your head way after the final lesson of the day.
‘An entire SIX WEEKS off for the summer, not to mention a hoard of half term breaks?! You’re so lucky’ is every non-teacher’s mantra, but you know the truth – a holiday is ‘a holiday’ on paper, but anything but in reality. You’re either meticulously planning for the next term’s curriculum or thinking about meticulously planning for next term’s curriculum (our Teachers’ Toolkit will definitely make the process easier by the way, with its numerous tips and resources covering the A-Z of your job).
Time off. What’s that?
You will never look at a Tesco/Asda/Sainsburys food shop the same after training
Your list starts with the standard ‘milk, bread, yoghurt,’ yet your trolley resembles an Art Attack explosion as you push your trolley to the car park – the aim was to replenish your fridge, but you couldn’t resist the thought of a full stationary cupboard or a successful Design Tech class. Pipe-cleaners, glitter, coloured paper and stickers are your aesthetic now, and breathing life into empty cartons and cardboard boxes has become the norm.
Whether it’s a mass shop of Christmas crackers or an army of protractors, you can’t resist investing in your students however you can, knowing the results will always be positive one way or another.
Imagination is of paramount importance
Teachers are story-tellers. Whether you’re tending to year ones or prepping for GCSEs, you’re always looking for a new way to challenge and excite your class – the creative juices never stop flowing, and the satisfaction from a lesson that gets rave reviews because it’s leagues away from the usual is unparalleled. Furthermore, with Twitter and Instagram and the telly providing the next generation with instant gratification, it’s become more essential than ever to pull out all the stops to garner undivided attention.
Thinking outside the box is an advantage to you, too – while your friends are ‘adulting’ all the time, classes are your escape. Kids kindle a rediscovery of youth, and inspire you as much as you inspire them.
Being a teacher is an incredibly hard job
One minute everything could be going perfectly well: the experiment is set up, kids are captivated at what you’ve got to say and you question why you ever thought your job was stressful…and then the chaos starts. Jamie’s refusing to sit still, Abbie saw a spider and just started a domino effect of blood-curdling screams and the third line are getting agitated because they just. Can’t. See. It’s not like difficulty subsides if you choose to teach year 10 over the lower school either – there’ll always be someone who accidentally breaks five boiling tubes at once (it’s happened) or decides to grunt if you ask them why they haven’t done their homework. Better yet, you feel conflicted between tending to trouble and advising the people who never fail to give their all to their schoolwork.
…but it’s worth it
It’s definitely a hard life, striking a balance between the students who grasp your point straight away and the students who need a little bit more time; between those who will get on with it, no questions asked, and those who definitely have the potential to be amazing but rarely access it.
Despite the word ‘Sir’/’Miss’ being endlessly thrown across the room and having to occasionally shout until you’re hoarse, there’s a reason why you’re still a teacher, and that’s because of the sheer joy in your students’ success. We all have a favourite teacher who changed our lives, and the feeling of accomplishment rests upon the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the person your students talk about long into the future for going above and beyond for them. Nothing beats watching someone perform in an assembly confidently or completely surpass their predicted grades knowing you helped it happen, and nothing beats knowing despite the difficulties you may encounter that you’re a part of something worthwhile.