A “Career” in Education?

As a newly appointed teacher after years of trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life, what my “personal legend” (Coehlo) is I have come across yet another crisis in what I thought I was thinking to be the right thing. If that makes sense.

I should mention that one of my favourite accidental pass times is to constantly challenge my own beliefs and thoughts and if I find one which is more “ego” vs “self” driven or it is based on a misconception about myself or the world I love to challenge it and get to the root of it.

It’s just what I do. That is how I keep learning, keep getting deeper into myself and my spiritual connection with the world around me.

Tangent. Focus.

Recently I attended a term-changing conference that helped me connect with why I chose to be a teacher in the first place. Let me set the scene. Disclaimer: Words may seem far more dramatic than an outsider’s perspective.

The story up until now is one that I shall save for another blog post, but the short of it is that I have been appointed my first job as a full time permanent teacher. I finished my course last June and was having a lot of difficulties in finding work and working casually until I received a phone call offering a position 3 days from the first day of Term 1.

Forward to 5 weeks and I lack sleep, lack nutrition, my eye muscles twitch, my mind is constantly switching focus between 100 items, I am also running around all day, getting my resources, dealing with the spot-fires that occur in the school day/ per class, and of course dealing with things going wrong.

It has actually been a blur. By the time I get my head around one class, it’s already over and I need to think about assessment, creating engaging opportunities, satisfying outcomes, ticking things off, evaluating myself, keeping track of what I have to do… list goes on and not much gets ticked off!

BUT, it takes one smile, laugh or cute gesture from a kid to make it all worth it. Is that sad? is that good? I am not yet decided, but it still is draining. But that positive impact does fill up the batteries a bit and masks the symptoms of exhaustion.

So back to the conference- in all these dealings I realised I had no time to reflect on the purpose of what I was doing. I was doing something, but I had forgotten what the true nature of what I was doing actually WAS. I walked into a room with teachers similar to me and I was a part of an adult community of professionals who thought like me and who had dreams like me, and overall who cared for the kids as much as I did. The issues we discussed were part of a bigger problem that we are trying to solve, a bigger issue that we as teachers feel alone in, such that 30% of all teachers leave the profession in the first 3 (or 5) years. That is really sad- I am sure that all those teachers are amazing teachers. Teachers who are probably alone and just purely exhausted and thus leave the profession.

Lucky for me I have amazing mentors and people to look up to who help to guide me and also to vent to when I need. Already I can see the fruits of such a valuable resources. It also helps that those mentoring are genuinely amazing individuals.

This figure does not seem to reflect the social media world of teachers. Teachers I see posting the things they do in their classroom, or trying these breakthrough things at school or attending these huge conferences or trying to show everyone else the newest idea in education. All of this- I think is great and so amazing, but after a few conversations with teachers and hear-say from students regarding the monitoring and displays to educational institutions on these techniques- I am beginning to wonder; Is it appropriate to call the educational profession a career?

Do all methods and do all participants in these educational ventures truly benefiting our kids in the classroom? (i.e One size fits all so we should all do it for the sake of it?)
After spending 2 days with adults I came home with a fresh inspirational outlook and felt as though I might not quit this “career” path I had chosen.
But now I am thinking…. was I looking at this the wrong way?
I don’t want a career in education if my objective is “opportunities for progress”. Yes, of course I constantly want to learn, and always will be learning and striving to do better- but not for me or my school or my paycheck- They are all second; and yet they take up more time away from planning for, assessing and really providing quality feedback and building rapport with students!!

The first and most important objective is my kids. Each and every individual student who comes to class.

Restructuring the way teachers do things may provide a motivation for some teachers to grow or to progress, but it might also motivate them to take shortcuts, use other teachers and again become recluse in their practice.

In my next mid-term crisis, I am sure I will have a clearer picture, but that conversation I had today really made me question education as a “career”, and how different it is to other professional careers. It is a serious profession; yes, it is severely underfunded even though we are practically raising children to some degree; yes, but we mustn’t forget that it is not a profession that benefits from competition; rather thrives with collaboration. It is the “collective genius” of teachers which allow teachers to create the work/life balance and quality lessons. A balance in the life of a teacher ensures that he/she brings him/her BEST face to class to face whatever issues, to model good, moral, happy behaviour and stay enthusiastic.

I hope for a better future and more mutual support amongst the teaching community. For this we will always say we need more “time”. And then we are back to square one.

Please note: I didn’t edit this- Yes I usually am a perfectionist- that’s why I don’t edit a flow of consciousness.

Have a nice week.