The quotes below are from teachers I have talked to, in the course of my recent research. It is a completely unscientific look at how teaching in a modern classroom can make a person feel.
This matters because the drive for improvements to the teaching profession in recent years, have resulted in a situation where staff who genuinely care aren't able to share how they feel about doing a difficult job.
In the current climate of accountability, teachers fear being identified as someone who can't cope - and targeted for 'extra help' or 'focus'.
I hope the anonymised quotes below help you to realise that you are not alone ..
Q. How Does Teaching Make You Feel?
" I dread going to work every morning "
" You just can't switch off "
" I can't stand the constant pressure of the job "
" I was surprised by the unexpected workload "
" The job is making my heart race "
" Every lesson is a battle "
" I am frightened to say how the job makes me feel "
" I find myself bursting into tears at the drop of a hat "
" I have nightmares about work "
" I am angry about what the job has become "
" I have a mega-responsibility for everything now "
" The job is SO draining "
" I feel overwhelmed all the time "
" I am sick of the endless, useless meetings "
" The thought of going in each day makes me feel physically unwell "
Q. Do you Feel Supported in Your Job?
" No. The expectation of management is that we should just 'cope' "
" There is a blame culture in my school "
" Am I going to let them (SLT) know about my health? .. definitely not! "
" A lot of things that are being done are about pleasing OFSTED, not helping children "
" I hate being belittled by teenagers - and my line manager "
" You feel like someone is looking over your shoulder all the time, every criticism hurts "
" No. The job is now more about over-testing and pressure to meet government targets "
" Teaching is an art not a formula "
"My Job? .. Abuse from teenagers, pressure from senior management and OFSTED, relentless scrutiny, personal and professional criticism, and ever-increasing workload "
Q. How Does Your Job Affect your Life Outside School?
" I feel like I barely see my own children - I rush to get them into bed so I can do my planning and marking "
" The lines between home-time and work-time are so blurred, I fear they don't exist "
" I am suffering from severe stress and anxiety "
" I am constantly knackered, and work every moment I can - but I am never on top of my job "
" I feel like I am missing out on my life "
" When my children look back, I am ashamed of what they will remember "
" How much of my child's childhood can I miss out on, before it starts to have an impact I wonder? "
" I was out with my family at the weekend, and couldn't enjoy it because I felt guilty that I wasn't at home doing my schoolwork instead "
Q. How do You Feel About Teaching Until Retirement?
" I just don't know if I can do this job until retirement "
"I just want to do something where I can leave for the day and pick up the next morning, rather than bring my workload home every night and weekend "
" My heart isn't in it any more "
" Not every teacher who wants to resign, can "
" I hate what education has become "
I don't know what your experience is - I sincerely hope you have an understanding employer and happy working conditions. When teaching is good, it is the best job that I know.
If your experience reflects otherwise, then be careful - the consequences of 'pushing through' for some, can be serious. Keep monitoring how you feel and talking to those close to you about the problems you have.
If you are worried that you are approaching burnout, you can get further advice here ..
.. and if you're thinking of leaving teaching - then this will help:
PDF: 373 Alternative Job Ideas for Teachers
- Discover just how employable you really are!
- Reveals the jobs best suited to your role, and existing experience level
- 373 ideas and inspirations for teachers seeking a fresh challenge
These comments resonate with me entirely. I have resigned from my post as full time teacher and SENCO and finish at Christmas after 20 years of teaching. The relentless paperwork, lack of time and the public professional ‘shaming’ following an OFSTED inspection has been too much to bear. Luckily I have an understanding husband. I may be financially worse off for a while but I would rather be that than look back and regret not caring for my own children whilst bending over backwards to support other people’s children for little or no thanks. I really hope at some point somebody in Government will wake up and realise the damage that has done to the profession in recent years. It’s an absolute travesty and the legacy of which will come to fruition and society will ask ‘what went wrong?’ Of course, as always it’s the teaching profession who are the whipping boy and will get the blame and no doubt will be held accountable.
Your sentiments are shared by many Jo .. too many schools don’t seem to value the health or worklife balance of their staff, and teachers are leaving in large numbers as a result. I too believe that in years to come we will look back with shame at what education has become. Over-testing, a narrow academically focused curriculum, and an expectation that teachers should be perfect. It’s all so far removed from the reasons teachers start in the job – and the truly sad thing is that it’s the students that suffer. I wrote a post which explains what I think here: https://notwaitingforsuperman.org/teacher-workload/
I was a teaching assistant within a nurture group provision at a primary. After 7 years I was totally burnt out to the point of being virtually unable to speak by the end of term. The pressure on all school staff to help the children, the families as well as tick boxes is immense!
I’m sorry to hear that Jane, I hope you’re in a happier position now.
It’s sadly ironic that while teachers show our students empathy and model emotional intelligence in our classrooms – our employers treat their teachers so badly. The numbers of teachers I know that sacrifice their time with their own children to tick those boxes, is something I believe leaders in school and in government ought to ashamed of.
It’s what drives me to write here.
As a supply/occasional teacher I have personally felt all of the emotions expressed in those quotes. I get to avoid marking, but trade that for absolute inconsistency of work, never knowing the lesson plans or kids or at times even the subjects, and last minute calls to teach 45 minutes away beginning 10 minutes after I get a phone call.
I have wanted to throw my phone – the sole method of obtaining daily jobs – through a window because it rings and a computer asks me to go and teach 30-90 teens I don’t know a lesson or subject I neither planned nor often have official training to teach. Finding a long-term occasional job or a contract is near impossible because of my years on the supply list requiring I be paid in a higher bracket than people in their 2nd or 3rd years out of college.
It varies from brutal days which make me want to quit, being sworn around and at, seeing kids addicted to technology, and being treated like a doormat – to incredible kids who actually read quietly when asked, don’t need to hear simple directions 8 times, and lesson plans that are clear.
With all of this is the pressure not to call the office when kids act up, just so I might get more work and be considered accurately as the competent educator that I am. Some schools support supply teachers brilliantly, welcoming and helping us. Then at others I have heard myself verbally bashed by staff members not knowing they are talking about me in my presence and been confronted aggressively by a teacher after a child misunderstood my statement. I have had kids who physically assaulted others in the class return 5 minutes after being sent to the office with a form I now have to complete filling out. I have since stopped going to those schools where I was treated so negatively, but the treatment still happened.
I am sorry to hear your experience .. and agree that supply teachers in chaotic schools have an absolutely impossible job. The problem for many teachers is HAVING to accept the conditions they work under because they lack any other financial choice.
One goal of NotWaitingForSuperman is to help teachers see they have other options. I am preparing a workshop to help teachers develop a second income while teaching, that will help many make more positive life choices.
Isn’t it crazy that we live in a world where education is though so little of .. and in the information age too! ..
I believe that this period in education will not be judged kindly by history at all.
Every statement provided in this article reflect the emotions I went through. I gave up my 22 year teaching career in the summer of 2018 and am very relieved I did. I was extremely uncertain about what I might be able to do next but have quickly taken to the role of temporary administrator and am really enjoying the challenge – and the sincere appreciation of those I am working for; that’s something I haven’t had for many years. However, I do remember a time when teaching was an absolute pleasure and am very sorry I couldn’t complete my professional life in a job I felt very proud of doing.
I’m sorry that that you had to leave a job you cared deeply about, because it became impossible.
I believe many teaching jobs are now broken due to the extreme demands of senior leaders and politicians with an axe to grind. The complete lack of compassion shown by many management teams towards teaching staff is so totally at odds with the qualities we try and help our children learn.
Teaching is not the job it was when I joined the profession.
Thanks for sharing this post,
is very helpful article.
No problem .. i’m glad it was useful to you.
Something you wrote resonated with me so much – teachers are expected to be perfect. It is so antithetical to how administrators expect you to treat students.
I have been teaching for 17 years and I am nearing my breaking point. I teach in a district that has plenty of resources but caters to and coddles students and parents. The district has placed students on the same level as teachers and the students know it. A student can openly complain about a teacher or make any accusation against a teacher and the school takes their word with little pushback. The consequences are always on the teacher and rarely on the students. The district talks a big game but when push comes to shove they throw the teacher under the bus in order to appease entitled students and parents. It’s beyond disheartening. And forget any kind of tough love…we are creating a generation of weak snowflakes that melt at even minor criticism and are expected to develop the grit it takes to be successful in the real world.
I’m just not happy anymore. I love to teach and feel I’m a better than average teacher, and many students over the years have told me what a good teacher I am. But I feel the culture in and around education has deteriorated, the expectations are unreasonable, and teachers are no longer respected as professionals or human beings.
You’re right about the expectation of teachers in many modern classrooms.
The atmosphere in many UK schools is one where the level of perfection expected, is often impossible to reach .. and you are disciplined for not achieving it. Many teachers now are failing appraisals due to unrealistic targets. This is being used (often by privately run academies) as an excuse to refuse pay progression and keep salaries low.
I too fear for the adults our system is creating – children are often weak in confidence because of over-testing – and not encouraged to develop creative problem solving skills in an overwhelmingly academic curriculum.
The question is can we turn the ship around? .. It will take a herculean effort to do so.