Today is Part 2 of my story on why I left teaching. You can find Part 1 here where I talk about the beginning of my teaching journey.
This post today is about my one and only job in teaching. If you ask me why I didn’t try any others, it’s because of how traumatic this experience has been. It’s made me resent what the profession has become and here’s why.
I began my first job as a Teacher in September 2020, I moved my boyfriend and me to the town my school was in for my job so I could commit to it fully and not endure a commute.
You’d think living 5 minutes away from the school would make me get home fast, but no. The reality is that even though the children leave at 3, we still have to stay behind in order to go to countless meetings (staff briefings, CPD etc), call parents and log everything on different systems, do detentions, perform admin duties, tidy the classroom, prepare resources for the next day, plan lessons that you couldn’t plan during the day (because you were teaching), print resources and pray the printer doesn’t jam because your lessons depend on that printing and you know there’s no one in the school hired to fix it.
There were many things I had to get used to when I started on the job, but I understood that that was a part of it and since I was a new teacher I felt like I couldn’t complain. I also had a nice timetable since being an NQT didn’t come with full-time hours. I felt supported at the beginning and thought the sessions we did to develop professionally were useful until a few months later when they started being repetitive and missed the mark.
Student behaviour was bad from the beginning, teachers didn’t have classrooms since the bubble system was in place due to Covid and we had to carry around our stuff all day being expected to be on time going from one building to the other, have resources for the children at hand (new folders, exercise books, pens- so many pens, gluesticks etc), line the students up, greet each student, log in to a computer 5 times a day, deal with the possibility that the board wasn’t working, the projector wasn’t working, a mouse or a keyboard had been stolen, as well as remember the seating plan for each class since the kids couldn’t be bothered or would try to constantly sit with their friends and wait for me to notice. This took at least 5-10 minutes of a lesson because students would not listen to any instructions, they were rude or simply walked away and I had to email to see if anybody could pick them up.
The troubles wouldn’t really stop once the classes were in the room and in the correct seating plan. I often struggled to do a register because I knew the class wouldn’t stay in silence whilst I read out over 30 names. There were classes that spent the entire hour ignoring me despite my attempts at managing behaviour, creating engaging lessons, and trying to build a good rapport with the students, not to mention some classrooms weren’t even equipped to have that many students in and you always had to find an extra desk or chair. Sometimes I’d give out mine just so I could start the lesson.
I had students that called me stupid in front of my entire class, mocked me, laughed at me, called me a liar, or simply ignored me the whole time whilst they did whatever they wanted. I think the only reason I survived my first year was due to my reduced timetable since I had time to recover from those traumatic lessons and prepare myself for the next. However, there were times when I didn’t have time and I would go to my next lesson in tears and had to put a smile on my face as soon as I saw my next class so they wouldn’t notice.
In teaching, it doesn’t matter what you’re feeling or what you’re going through, you need to put a smile on your face even if you were crying a minute ago. That sort of thing became exhausting the following year when I had 21 hours of teaching time. I had more groups, more hours, and more behaviorur issues that people swore disappeared in the second year since the kids know you.
In my case, they didn’t disappear and the lack of consistency in the school by the leadership team made it impossible to manage behaviour.
Student not allowing lesson to take place – nothing done, student walking out of classroom or refusing to come in – nothing done (It’s my job to convince them to come in), students walking around school and being defiant constantly – nothing done, students barging into my room while I taught calling me a whore – nothing done except a conversation on why that was bad.
I could go on and on about the things I experienced but the bottom line is, that I felt like a piece of crap every day I came home. I was spoken to like garbage on a day-to-day basis, stretched to my limits, and made to feel like nothing whilst the leadership team kept telling us how well things were going.
Student fights skyrocketed, same with detentions only those weren’t being done anymore because students just wouldn’t show up and this wasn’t followed up by our superiors, parents were constantly arguing each sanction and the school kept siding with them instead of the teachers, our duties to watch the children were doubled from once a week to twice, and we were also asked to spend 20 minutes each morning with the kids outside, on top of running clubs and doing everything else.
They made a job I loved into something that made me want to die. I couldn’t cope with the pressure, the rudeness, and intimidating behaviour from students, but I also couldn’t cope with the gaslighting and lack of support from the leadership team.
Life as a teacher isn’t just sitting at your desk and watching kids work.
Life as a teacher is planning for hours at home for lessons you don’t get to deliver because of behaviour in an environment that protects kids that are a danger to others, not just teachers.
Life as a teacher is not having time to go to the bathroom because a student is holding you back to do their detention in your free time because they don’t want to stay after school, or having to do a lunch club or simply because you need to set up for your next class which is in the other building.
Life as a teacher is shoving food down your throat as fast as you can because you don’t have time to sit down and eat your food in a calm manner.
Life as a teacher is teaching through asthma attacks even if your chest is on fire from the coughing or having to manage a class of 30+ kids without a voice because you felt too guilty to call in sick.
Life as a teacher is planning your day before you get to school and then finding out you have to cover a class in your only free which means you need to do the work after school and most likely at home.
Our life wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows, it was depressing, stressful, and inhumane. The thought of helping future generations isn’t enough to keep you in a job where your pleas for help are ignored, you are told that the kids have worse lives than you so you shouldn’t be depressed and take a day off or worse a place where you are shown every day that you don’t matter, your safety isn’t a priority for them and if you dropped dead tomorrow your job would be advertised the next day.
To conclude, I loved the profession before I joined it and I had moments when my classes made me proud, I even had the most amazing head of department to help me through this process but it just goes to show the problems didn’t come from that. The problem lies within our education system and the people in charge to lead teachers but failing miserably. So, now I am free and I’m getting healthier by the day. I focus on that every single day instead of thinking about the children I left behind. I miss teaching them but not enough to put my life on the line for them.
If you’re in a job like mine or are actually a teacher going through similar circumstances, know that you matter and there is so much more out there. Don’t let anybody hold you back and leave the profession before it takes its toll on you. Be your own advocate and free yourself from a toxic environment.
I hope my story has enlightened you a bit. This will be the last time I post about it since I plan on making my articles much more positive. I just felt like I owed it to myself to write about this so I can move on.