This Wednesday, there is a National Teaching Strike organised by the NUT (the biggest union in the UK). I’ve been thinking of this for a while and I just wanted to write something about why I support the strike. Lots of people will put this much more eloquently than me, but hey ho:
I am an NQT (in my first year of teaching). I work something like 50-55 hours at school a week, plus an hour or two at home in the evenings plus at least a day’s work at the weekend. I obviously work less during the holidays but I still work during the holidays. If I don’t do work during an evening, I’m still thinking about school/the next day, and 9 times out of 10, I feel guilty for not working.
I love my job - I love working with kids, planning activities which are fun and interesting for them, seeing them learn things and grasp more difficult concepts - but I’m exhausted. Like, seriously exhausted. On Wednesday evening, I got hugely stressed out before going to bed and got massively worked up, started crying, and couldn’t stop. I ended up sleeping on the sofa so I didn’t disturb the (poorly) boy and so I could put the TV on to distract/occupy my mind. I just got hugely overwhelmed and because I was so tired it was just too much.
There was a report/survey released recently that stated that teachers, on average, work almost 60 hours a week (Teacher Workload Survey 2013, can be found on the DfE website). Not a single teacher I know was surprised by this or thought it was anything unusual.
Now, I don’t want to complain about how much work I do as my main point - I know there are lots of professions that do similar hours and work just as hard as teachers do - what I have a problem with is the constant criticism of teachers from the government and media. And I wouldn’t even mind that as much if there was a little bit of recognition and appreciation now and then. And when a variety of statistics say that something like 40% of teachers drop out of the career in their first 5 years - surely there’s something wrong.
There are other things I have huge issues with - the amount of testing and pressure applied to children, the stress and pressure from Ofsted.
There are so many aspects of my job I utterly love - I love it when kids grasp a difficult concept, when my more difficult kids work hard and really achieve something, when kids try hard and enjoy what they’re doing and when they’re proud of themselves - I love all of that. I love helping a kid see and achieve their potential. I love breaking down the barriers which are stopping a child from learning. But I don’t love the constant pressure, constant work and constant exhaustion. And that’s got to change.
Said so perfectly! My union isn’t striking but I fully support anyone that is striking - teaching is so much harder than anyone gives teachers credit for and the constant attack on all fronts is too much to bear. Something HAS to change and change soon - as a fellow NQT I’m almost at burnout stage and I feel so guilty when I actually spend time with my fiance in the evening instead of doing anything on my to do list (which averages 20 bullet points at any one time…)