Think back to your childhood, do you remember watching a teacher properly losing it? I do. I remember watching this poor guy crack in a truly British way by standing up and eloquently telling us all exactly what he thought of us (his opinion of our academic prowess was a little jaded, but spectacularly accurate!).
My Goddaughter watched a similar scenario today, although scarily she is only 8 and doesn’t have the level of nonchalance that a stroppy teenager applies to this situation. It got me thinking though. Exactly what does it take to make a teacher risk losing their dignity, their control and quite possibly their job?
In a word, stress.
May is a horrible month for teachers, and having just been told by Beanpole that I must be ill because the bags under my eyes are black (thanks kid), I’m aware that while I’m dealing with my stress, it is having a physical effect, and not just through increased chocolate consumption. Burnout is a very real thing and those helpful media people who drone on about teachers leaving by 3pm and having constant holidays don’t help. My average day is in excess of 12 hours – as a fully qualified software developer, if I was in it for the money, I wouldn’t be teaching. But there is no piece of software that gives the same level of job satisfaction as seeing a spark of lifelong interest.
But job satisfaction does not shield you from stress or the changing nature of our profession. I have heard many older teachers of a bygone generation lament the loss of status within society – where once the academic was respected for the academic and social lessons that were imparted upon the young, they are now more likely to be blamed for the failure to make the horse drink the water they were led to.
And this shift in the status of a profession is invariably passed on to the younger generations.
But what can we do? We can learn to consider our position as a frog. Calmly survey the surroundings from the lily pad and jump when the water is warm and danger has passed. Ultimately, all things will pass and tadpoles will eventually grow their own legs. Oh, and try not to crack up in front of the kids. A large glass of wine is generally much more productive (after school).