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Is it hard to be a teacher?

April 22, 2014

I briefly listened to BBC4 You and Yours today, because the topic was teaching and learning. Unsurprisingly lots of people rang in or emailed to voice their opinion.

Opinions were roughly split between teachers, who talked about the stresses of league tables, teaching towards exams and endless paper work, and non- teachers, who argued that the teaching profession is full of moaners, who have no idea about ‘the real world’.

Having gone through teacher training and taught since 2011 I have something to say on the subject too (although it is restricted to Secondary School Education). I had plenty of ‘real world’ experience before I went into teaching but I can honestly say it is one of the hardest things I have done.  It is not the paper work or the long hours of marking or preparation, that make the job difficult. What makes it hard is the simple fact that you are dealing with a hundred or more young people throughout the day every day.  They all come with their different degrees of willingness to learn, they have good days and bad days, as a group you have successful or less successful lesson with them, but for each and every-one of them you want to ensure that they learn something and even more that they enjoy learning enough to come back for more. Unfortunately however a significant number of pupils don’t enjoy learning and only come back to the next lesson because they have to not because they want to.

So as a teacher you are up against it every day to bring about that cooperation and willingness to learn.  Even for the most experienced, inspirational and energetic teacher it is exhausting to keep that show on the road.

I have taught in four different schools (a mixed Comprehensive School, a mixed Grammar School; a Boy’s Academy and a private Boy’s School) and I have not met a single teacher who was not fully dedicated to the work he or she was doing.  Of course for all the hard work there are also wonderful rewards when you see young people really making progress. Schools are also buzzing places with all that young energy.  Teaching is never boring; no two days are the same and teachers tend to be a generally very supportive of each other, all these are positives. But teaching is hard and very demanding.

I respected the teaching profession before I went into it myself,  I only appreciated how difficult and exhausting it is when I tried it myself.

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