Education is in a difficult state at the moment. That much is true. Teacher recruitment and retention; workload; high stakes accountability measures that mean you can lose your job based on whether Billy knows 6 x 9 or an exclamatory sentence, or whether his pet rabbit, or family member died on the day of the test; unrealistic expectations of little ones: all of these things are taking their toll and it’s not pretty.
This is the truth and it must be told. The educational landscape is being bulldozed and redesigned and it is important that, as a profession, we stand up and shout about what is detrimental to our children’s education and what is unworkable for teachers.
Furthermore, if you are a teacher that is grieving for a job you once loved; if teaching has impacted your mental or physical health, or family relationships to such an extent that you feel you must leave the profession, then you have a right to be heard. You have a right to a voice and must not be silenced.
We all know that teaching is not about endless days of craft-making, den-building, story-telling, light bulb moments.
While these things are true, it is also true that I cannot go into school tomorrow with the weight of them all on my shoulders. It will cripple me. And the thirty little expectant faces waiting for me in the morning deserve better than my cynicism. So I have to remember what is also true. There are good, beautiful, funny things happening in classrooms just like yours and mine, up and down this country all the time. There are teachers who go the extra mile every single day. There are teachers building emotional resilience in children who don’t have anyone to teach them that at home. There are teachers coming up with creative, exciting, engaging ideas to hook their children into learning. There are children who will remember how you and I loved them and believed in them long after they have forgotten how hard it was for them to learn how to spell, or use an embedded clause. They will remember the shared jokes and that hilarious moment that made us all laugh so hard we cried. They will remember the electric atmosphere you and I created, where learning was fun and their curiosity for science, or history was ignited. They will remember how we taught them to respect difference, and to be kind.
It is true that we are in tough times. But it is also true that there are many amazing teachers daily making a difference in children’s lives. They also have a right to a voice and must not be silenced either.