To Strike, or not to Strike…

In three working days I will no longer be a teacher.

Today, many teachers are on strike and – whilst I’m not out in the rain with a placard – I am not in school either. I am on strike.

I nearly didn’t strike. I nearly went in to teach, and get the pay cheque that I will so desperately need when I am out of work next month. My school will find a way to cover my lessons while I am not there. There are very few NUT members at the school, so the idea of Collective Action feels pretty meaningless. The school will continue to run, and no one will really miss me. The school gates will still be open. It would have been easy to go in. It’s the penultimate week of term, so I could have had some fun with the pupils I love. I could have been paid today.

But I am on strike.

Let’s be clear. If teachers have to work 60 hours a week, it no longer affects me. I will not be a teacher at the end of the month.

If teachers won’t be able to retire until they’re far too old to be dealing with the workload, it no longer affects me. I’m effectively retiring from teaching in my 30s.

If teachers have terrible pensions, if they can’t get on the property ladder, if they never find a work-life balance, if they go home (as some of them tell me) and cry through hours of marking and paperwork, if they hate every moment of the job that takes them away from the students they love, it no longer affects me. I am not affected any longer by the constant shifting of goalposts, the endless data input, the patronising hoop-jumping, the Threat of OFSTED. Not anymore. I’m out of there!

In three working days I will no longer be a teacher.

I am an excellent teacher. I have taught whole families. I have achieved outstanding GCSE results. I have run two departments. I have touched the lives of thousands of students. I have laughed, and I have loved it… and I have hated every second for the last 2 years.

I am striking today, for the teachers who I love. Most of those teachers are at school, teaching, while I write this. There are many reasons why they are at school, rather than on strike. You’d have to talk to them about that, and I don’t intend to berate them for making that decision. But I do want them to know that I am striking for them. None of this effects me anymore. I am doing it for YOU, teachers!

I am on strike for the children who have become statistics. I am on strike for the teachers who have become hardened and robotic. I am on strike because your teenage years aren’t all about exam results, actually, and we shouldn’t forget that. I am on strike to ask the government to back off and let us do our job – we’re the experts, after all. I am on strike today, because it is the last (albeit tiny) way I can raise my voice in defence of the occupation that was once my calling.

I am on strike because teaching is unrecognisable to me now.

 

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