"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."



('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)




Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The last week

Tomorrow I begin my last week as a full time permanent teacher. As from tomorrow morning, everything I do at school will be for the last time.
Yesterday one of the staff asked me if I am feeling sad at the thought of leaving and, sadly, I had to say no. I have been there for 16 and a half years, far longer than I ever expected to be in one place, seeing that I have a low boredom threshold and there have been many ups and downs, in latter years, mainly downs.
I loved teaching from the time I left college, back in 1970. Over the years, I have spent many hours per week 'over and above' but gradually, what was originally a matter of choice became a matter of necessity - running to stand still. I have seen numerous education 'initiatives' come and go, many introduced without any forethought or previous research, spent innumerable hours, together with other long-suffering colleagues, making them work for the sake of the children we were educating, and then many more hours undoing all that and preparing to introduce the next brainwave of some character in his ivory tower a million miles removed from REAL SCHOOLS.
I have taught in Ireland as well as England, from Nursery to secondary (only very briefly), been head of department, deputy headteacher and acting headteacher twice (in my own and another school) but last summer I decided I had had enough of senior management and the resultant lack of 'a life' and 'downsized' to class teacher. This has meant that for the first time in years I have been able to go out sometimes at weekends, pursue other interests (blogging for one!) and do an evening course. I can't remember the last time I was able to do anything like that that wasn't work-connected.
But maybe I left it too late. I feel envious of younger colleagues who still have the enthusiasm that I have lost and cannot recapture, try as I might. Teaching has now become a job, like any other, rather than something I loved to do and that does make me sad.
When I look around at others of my age who have retired, resigned or are wishing they could, I know I am not alone in the way I feel. We can't all have got it wrong. We are the generation who have lived through more changes and upheavals in teaching than any other. We would all agree that standards needed to be improved in some important areas and the literacy and numeracy hours have gone far to address this. Unfortunately, in the process, all the spontanteity, interest, enthusiasm and joyfulness have gone.......There has to be a way to recapture this, but I can't wait any longer.

4 comments:

Alan Saunders said...

From what I've read here you will be a sad loss to a much under-rated profession.

(For the record, Mrs Saunders is an over-worked, harrassed Year One teacher.)

me75 said...

Running to stand still. That says it all. I think the frustrations you feel can be felt in a few professions but none where its more important than education. I'll never understand why it is people out of the classroom (or in my case, away from the bedside) that make the important decisions regarding policy. You can only swim against the tide for so long. Enthusiasm (I think) is a must for educators. Its a shame it was worn away. But once a teacher, always a teacher - I believe you will find new ways to educate in a way that makes you feel satisfied and happy! Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I was a teacher for 17 years and gave up for much the same reasons you have expressed. getting up in the morning to go to school in the end was a pain. Now I drive a bus and never wake up and think,'My god I've got to go to work to day.'
Best wishes to you.
David

Snowbabies said...

I wish my Dad could read this, he's not on the net, not being a fan of computers. He'd echo your thoughts I'm sure. He's been teaching in the same school for over 30 years and is very much looking forward to retirement.

Paul

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