This week, I have been lucky enough to spend some time working with teachers from other departments, offering a range of activities to the children within our school. I enjoy opportunities like this to branch out from the crevasse of my own classroom whilst getting to know other members of staff as they peer out from the crevasse of theirs.
One lady I am working with is a teacher I have admired since I began teaching at my current school; she really goes above and beyond the call of duty and instigates many social activities between staff. However, she avoids any sort of "clique" and is inclusive of everyone. She soldiers on with what often appears like an unwavering optimism; we all envy her faultless dedication to her work and efficiency. I'd never be able to work that hard.
Anyway, this week she appeared exhausted and deflated, pessimistic even. She had clearly been reflecting on her many years of teaching and for the first time shared her regrets about working so hard over the years. She said that she had spent "hours and hours marking key stage 3 assessments" for the children to glance their eyes over the feedback she had given for 2 minutes before their attention was diverted elsewhere. She went on to say that the worst part of the process is that "nothing changes, the feedback makes very little difference." She appeared quite sad about the hours of her life she had lost through the mundane, marking of endless pieces of work for seemingly no benefit. She then went on to tell me about the amount of money she had spent out of her own pocket on materials she felt were required to perform her work well.
Her words made me think: is all of that time and energy really worth being "faultless" at your job? Or is being "ok" ok? Being a great teacher won't help you gain more friends, infact you'll probably lose a few, it will cost you financially no doubt and precious, precious time will be lost. Perhaps cutting corners really is the key to surviving teaching?
I think about the posters, resources and stationary I've invested in myself to help my students and to spruce up my own classroom with in the last few years; was it really worth it? Did anyone thank me? Did it change a lot? No, I guess it didn't. The posters were ripped from my classroom walls as soon as I entered my maternity leave or thrown into the annual school skip, or barely acknowledged and lost by students, only to be replaced by the good intentions of a replacement teacher who experienced the same thing.
Teachers often set out with big hearts, that's why they become teachers in the first place, but often within the stifled, bureaucratic ruins of education, the good intentions in our hearts eventually gets lost.