With less than a week to go until the return to school commences, I'm feeling somewhat miserable. With 6 years of teaching under my belt, I've become more aware of the true nature of the teaching profession and what it entails, so this year I'm feeling more cynical than ever.
If I'm being honest, as each fresh, academic year approaches, I'm usually feeling optimistic, bubbling with new ideas, classroom seating plans, creative classroom management strategies, but this year, I'm not. All too often my ideas are wrung to dry as they are dried out by the true hardship and slog of being a teacher in a stifling and bureaucratic education system and this truth appears to have taken an exhaustive toll on me.
I worry that if I'm feeling like this now, how will I get through the next year? I thought that smart working and savvy time planning could save me as I ploughed my way into the academic year 2015-2016, but this apparently wasn't the case. The psychological impact of being a teacher in the modern day is very real and very raw as we juggle the need to please our managers, the children and perhaps, our most difficult judges: the parents. I have no new time management strategies as I make my way into the academic year 2016-2017, I have no innovative classroom management techniques to save my sanity, I just have the knowledge and experience of the last 6 years to teach me to be kinder to myself and to continue to follow through with honest, good intentions.
These are the reasons I really don't want to go back to school:
I really don't want to go back to school because I'm worried about myself or my daughter being ill, resulting in my absence from work.
Unfortunately and very ironically, in the teaching profession teachers can be very unforgiving of other teachers, not all, but some. We all know how difficult it is to make the decision that you need to be absent from work, but teachers have to face the consequences when they return, whilst other teachers often have to pick up the slack by covering the lessons. The unbelievable guilt is all consuming, but when a teacher makes the decision that they need to be absent, it shouldn't be taken lightly, as they're sitting at home with a sick bucket next to them or smothered in poorly child emailing in lessons plans for cover lessons to be taught in their absence. These lessons often need to be planned in on top of whatever lessons they had planned to teach that day, therefore the process is time consuming and dreadfully difficult when dealing with bodily fluids and sick children.
Last year saw me take several days off work to be with my sick daughter, which were steeped in guilt on my part, whilst having to take a fortnight of absence for myself after I was diagnosed with an inner ear infection. When you walk into the staffroom on returning from a spell of absence whether it be for yourself or your child, you can't help noticing the staff who fail to ask if you or your child is feeling any better and you feel like shit and even more guilty for being ill. Whilst if it was your child who was ill, you feel guilty for feeling guilty. All in all, you just feel shit. I know I can't control illness and I know that the probability of me needing to take more absence from work this academic year is fairly likely.
Hardly something to look forward to.
I really don't want to go back to school in case I need the toilet.
One of the really shitty things (pardon the pun) about teaching is not being able to use the toilet when you need to. This is a particular problem when you suffer from conditions like IBS, IBD or cystitis.
As teachers, we are considered to owe a duty of care to our students and unfortunately, this often means that we are unable to leave the classroom unattended when answering to very normal calls of nature. We are also encouraged to educate the children to use their break times to go to the toilet and it is therefore difficult to expect them to do this if we can't! On the other hand, our breaks are often not breaks at all and we find it difficult to escape form our classrooms to get to the bathroom when children come knocking at your door to ask questions during break times.
For me, this issue creates huge anxiety. Especially as I suffer from a very aggravating bowel condition, but many would argue that aggravating, isn't debilitating and therefore I have no reason not to be able to do my job.
I have had to run out of my classroom to go to the toilet on numerous occasions and I do not feel guilty about it, however it makes me fearful; this brings me on to my next reason.
I really don't want to go back to school because teaching is unforgiving of anxiety.
Education doesn't care how much sleep you've had, what's going on at home, how you're feeling, how busy you are, or how anxious you feel about any of these things, because children still need teaching and that becomes the priority. Rightly so that the teaching of children ought to be the priority of education (others may argue differently) but nobody allows for how the teacher may be feeling or coping under the buckling cloud that teaching creates. Some days, I'm anxious. Some days, I have a mountain to climb and I wonder how I'm going to manage it all, when random, unpredicted challenges get thrown in on top and my anxiety kicks in.
It's not only education and the demands of teaching that are unforgiving of anxiety or fear in a teacher, but the children themselves who often can't pick up on a teacher's tension or let's face it, who often don't listen to instructions and chuck in a load of unnecessary questions on top of the workload.
I really don't want to go back to school because the workload affects my mental health.
The workload is the workload regardless of how much sleep we've had or how stressed out we are, we can't give ourselves an easier day if we're struggling because the children we teach may have other ideas! We can't hide away or bury our head in the sand on the days we're not coping because the same amount of lessons need teaching and the same deadlines remain.
No matter how much I try to plan and prepare, sometimes stuff happens and we can't prepare for it, that's life. But this has huge consequences for my mental health and sometimes, nervous exhaustion kicks in.
I really don't want to go back to school because I have a huge workload and nowhere to work.
Being a part-time teacher means that we often don't get a classroom to call our own; I understand that this is sometimes the unfortunate nature of the job, however nobody then suggests where exactly we are supposed to do our work. With no desk space to call our own, the "frees" we get to catch up on our data crunching, lesson planning, marking and admin are left feeling somewhat uncertain. Where exactly do we go to complete our work when we're not teaching?
I really don't want to go back to school because it drains me.
Forget the physical workload (which is bad enough!) it's the constant repetitive questions, the persistent noise, the low level disruptive behaviour in need of regular challenging and the consequent way it sucks up my mood and my mind. It's this. The way I forget children's names because I'm listening to one child explain something to me whilst another is asking questions, whilst another is out of his seat for the third time and I've spoken to him twice before and I'm trying to catch his eye, whist taking the register and delivering the starter. It's this.
I really, really don't want to go back to school on Monday.