“Do you actually enjoy teaching?”
In what other profession can we say we impact over a hundred lives on a daily basis?
I often sit down and reflect on my week so far on a Thursday evening. Thursday seems to always be the busiest day on my timetable and provides a good opportunity for this self-reflection whereas on a Friday night I throw myself into the weekend. My conclusions are always the same, this job makes me genuinely happy. People who aren’t teachers often turn their noses up at the idea of teaching and some of those who teach younger students do the same at the concept of teaching teenagers. “Oh I salute you for doing that, couldn’t think of anything worse.” “Teenagers these days…(insert boomer comment here)” and many more. Also, get asked frequently if I “actually“ like the job.
Teaching is a whirlwind profession. Teachers come and go, students do as well through the natural cycle of exam completion, life changes and the time flies by at warp-speed as we spin plates filled with pedagogy, data analysis, pastoral issues and more but you know what? In what other profession can we say we impact over a hundred lives on a daily basis? For that one student who may have annoyed you by not paying attention to your excellently planned lesson, there are 20-odd more who enjoyed it and who are richer for having your impact in their lives.
Some of us get into teaching with dreams of revolutionising the way education as done. Usually we think back to the one or two teachers who impacted our lives and try to amalgamate their styles and attitudes into our own “Frankensteined” (sorry English teachers) book of tricks. As time goes on this changes a bit, we still retain our inspirations but we realise that tweaks not revolution is needed. There is potential that we can become pessimistic about our impact on education, however, please never forget the reason we do this. Contrary to public belief it’s not the holidays is it? Although we should admit by now they are a pretty significant perk. It’s for the young people we serve. They deserve us, even at their worst and they deserve people who will hold them to account out of sheer determination to see them succeed in academia and life. Let’s build a world where they don’t make the mistakes previous generations did and economic/social factors don’t impact the results of our young people. Pipe dream? Maybe but I bet if we all thought that way we would go some distance to achieving it.
Think about that one student who smiled at a joke, fact or breakthrough this week. They smiled because of you. Think of that one member of staff who smiled this week because of you, you maybe helped them through a hard week. There will be plenty of children for whom your lesson is the highlight of their week. There are plenty of potential reasons for this. Maybe you make them smile, maybe they love your passion for the subject, maybe they love the activities you all do together or maybe it’s within your classroom that they feel safe, trusted and comfortable. Whatever the reason, there will be plenty of children every week who think that way about you. Let’s go out into the world and change it for the better, our initial enthusiasm for teaching revolution may now have ladles of realism in there but teachers are in he best place to be a power for change in the world and it starts with improving the lives of young people. You will get people to university or into a well paid profession in your career who wouldn’t have gone without your input and inspiration. Remember, you change lives in a daily basis.
So ask me again if I like my job. No, I don’t like my job. I bloody love it.