The best job in the world

Someone asked me today whether I still want to be a teacher. It made me suddenly, and overwhelmingly, sad. I have been teaching for seven years. When I started, in those early days, it was tough. I knew it was going to be tough, I didn’t pretend to myself that teaching would be an easy job, with short days and long holidays. My Mother was a teacher, I wasn’t hiding behind idealistic, or false dreams of what the job meant. In the early days, when I would come home in tears, or with more marking and planning than it felt possible to do in one evening, or one weekend; in the days when I would fall asleep on the bathroom floor waiting for the bath to run, I still believed that somehow what I was doing in the classroom made up for it all. I loved my job. I loved to see the moments when a pupil’s eyes spark at a new idea, or when a class hold their breath as I tell them a story, or give them an opinion they’ve never heard before. I loved to train up new staff to do the same, and sometimes better. A teacher creates lessons, creates work sheets and activities. I loved the creative nature of it, the magic of putting together all the things I’d been told about how children learn into a neat, hour-long package. I had a tutor group who were the closest thing I ever had to children of my own, who I watched grow up = cried for, rejoiced with, fought for and supported. I loved to learn new things from the students, every day.
Teaching isn’t just a job. Being a teacher defined me. The best teachers I know, see it as a calling of sorts, they didn’t become teachers because they couldn’t think of anything better to do, or because they wanted to have the same holidays as their kids. They became teachers because they wanted to teach people something; either the subject they loved, or just something about how human beings should be. I spent years trying not to be a teacher before I finally trained; I didn’t want the responsibility. I believe that God told me to be a teacher, back when God and I were still talking to one another. I believe it’s what He wanted me to do.
And how can I give that up?
But. But. Teaching is killing me. The nature of the job, the demands placed upon me by the students, by my colleagues, the management, the government… they’re too much. Unless you don’t do them all properly, and that’s not something I can do. I won’t do a half-hearted job, can’t teach a not-excellent lesson, can’t leave behind my worries about the pupils when they go home at the end of the day…
I’m not in a position at the moment to think about getting a new job, I have to get better and get back to work – they’re still paying me, and I owe them. But, long term, it might be time to start thinking about what I really want to be doing.
I don’t even know where to start.


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