Warning – this is a long post! Sit down, settle in, put your feet up and enjoy!
I went for a run the other night with my friend and the whole way round our 7.5 miles I talked about work. I love my job and I am passionate about it and this became evident as we ran and I talked and talked and talked.
I’m not even at work at the moment as I am still on maternity leave. I have less than a month to go until I return, but I still love the job that I do. I have always wanted to be a teacher and I have now taught for the last 12 years. There have definitely been ups and downs and moments where I’ve wondered whether this is the job for me, but the fact that I am still teaching after 12 years, I am still passionate about education and changing children’s lives, tells me that this is definitely the job for me. Don’t get me wrong, it is by far one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it is also one of the most rewarding, in my opinion. Where else can you hold conversations with people that not only challenge them, but also you, on a daily basis? Where the work you are doing will have a direct impact on the people you work with, for the rest of their lives?
So I thought I’d take this post to explain just a few of the reasons why I love my job so much, even though it is so mentally and physically draining, all-consuming and exhausting!
The children. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t enjoy children, being with them, talking to them and learning about their little personalities, then teaching really isn’t the job for you! I’ve always loved children and being around them. I was always one of the oldest when me and my sister used to play out, so used to love ‘mothering’ and ‘teaching’ the younger ones in our group. It’s always been that innate part of me I guess! They will completely take over your world and for the year or so that they are in your class, they are so much more than that. My class become my children. I come home and worry about them, I think about them and how best to help them in that next lesson in the weirdest of moments (like cooking dinner or when I’m running), and you really begin to build connections with them. I count myself very lucky to have been there for the children I’ve worked with through some of their toughest and equally happiest moments.
I remember talking with a child as her parents were going through a separation. Just listening to her and discussing how things made her feel. Years later when I bumped into her when she was working as a waitress in a pub where I was having a meal, she reminded me of this and how much it meant to her.
I remember children when I had year 6, thinking that they couldn’t achieve in their Maths SATs. One girl wasn’t even going to sit it, but through my encouragement she did, and came out with a level 4 (back when we used to have grades – showing my age now!), she cried with happiness when I told her, and in the same class, two lads who had always worked hard, but never really over achieved, received level 5s. I will never forget the pure happiness on their faces as they leapt into each others arms and jumped up and down as I told them.
I have worked with children from looked after families who have found it difficult to connect with school and learning – I’m not saying that I was a miracle cure for them, but I like to think I made their lives a little easier and I still think about them regularly and wonder how they are and what they’re up to. One of these fosters parents had not always seen eye-to-eye with the school and had struggled to build relationships with the child’s teachers previously so I worked extra hard to make these links with her and to build that missing relationship. Again, I’m not saying I am Wonder Woman and that I was amazing, but I like to think that the conversations we had were in earnest and they meant something to her.
I’ve had parents come to me asking me to give their children extra support outside of school (tutoring if you will) because they can see the value in what I have bought to their child’s education and they want to get the very best for them.
I have been there when a child has needed to offload about home life, siblings, parents, friends, happy events, sad events. I have sat and held a child’s hand while they cried and cried because their pet had died, or their best friend had moved away. I have jumped for joy with a child when she was accepted onto the football team she’d had a try-out for. I have taken time out of my weekend to go and support a child in my class who was doing a walk to raise money for charity and been introduced to extended family members.
I’ve had parents connect with me via social media once their child is no longer in my class as they have wanted to continue to relationship that we had built up over the year and this has meant so much to me. I have had past pupils connect with me, once they have become much older I might add, and one of these pupil’s mum I know from working with her. She sent me the loveliest message over Christmas I believe when I had liked some photos on Instagram stating that her child had commented when a certain song had come on that he remembered me teaching them a dance to it in PE, probably 9 or 10 years previously. Things like that will never cease to amaze me. That something I have taught a child has stayed with the, for all this time. But then again, why shouldn’t it? I remember my teachers, the ones who inspired me to teach. Mrs. Dovey, my amazing Year 4 teacher. Probably wasn’t actually amazing by today’s teaching standards, but she gave me a love for learning and taught me to love education. Mrs. Bishop and Mr. Coslett in Year 6, because of them I continued with my love of learning and overcame barriers to my own learning that had previously been missed and mismanaged by other teachers. I can still recall my squared-times table today because of a lesson I vividly remember with Mr Coslett in maths. These are the things that have stuck with me and I wish I had had the chance to go back to these teachers and say thank you. I have no idea where they are now, so this is my way of thanking them.
The feeling of accomplishing something. This is a really simple one. For me I am all about the reward. Now that might sound a little silly, but I am the sort of person that likes, probably needs, to be thanked or recognised for doing something. Not always, I hasten to add, but it helps me. So teaching is really good for me. I work hard, like really hard, to produce lessons for my children that I think will inspire them and engage them in ways that they haven’t before necessarily. I want all children I teach to have that love for learning and education that I have been very lucky to have all my life. So when I plan a lesson, or a series of lessons and I see children engaging, or enjoying their learning, that is the feeling of accomplishment. When I overhear children talking about things that we’ve done or parents tell me they came home and talked non-stop about something they did in school, I am over the moon. I had a TA I was working with come excitedly into the classroom once because she’d been walking behind two of our class members on the way to school and they whole way they had been discussing things from the previous day’s lessons. That is just the most amazing feeling. Something I have spent time over, thought endlessly about, has had an impact. My work here is done!
Being able to share my loves and passions on a daily basis. This again is a simple one. I love learning and education and reading predominantly. I get to share these passions with children, and other adults, every single day. I get to try and inspire them, to discuss things that fire me up, things that have inspired me, things that I have loved and will always love, every single day. There aren’t many other jobs that I can think of, where you genuinely can share the things that you love the most with people (children) who are so susceptible to soaking it all up and getting something out of it. That is pure joy right there. Reading is my biggest passion in teaching, reading has always been something I have enjoyed, I always remember there being books, I’ve always received them as gifts, always bought them as gifts, been read to, read to others, essentially books have always been a part of my life. So to get the chance to lead reading across our school and to share this love and passion of mine with the children and staff every day is just something incredible as far as I’m concerned. I’ve engaged children with books they would have previously not considered looking at. I’ve encouraged children to read new authors, genres, more challenging texts. I’ve introduced a new way of teaching reading to the school and enthused children and adults to involve themselves in this process. I’ve run book clubs where children can come and just listen to a story, be read to and enjoy being read to without having to worry about what the words on the page mean and say and what the author might be thinking or trying to convey with a certain vocabulary choice. I’ve pushed children to develop their love and understanding of books and texts and to strive to be the best readers they can be. And I’ve done all this with the most passion and enthusiasm I can muster, because it’s what I truly believe in. That counts for everything.
So there you go, just three of the main reasons why I love my job so much. There’s so much more I could have gone into in each section, but this is just a taster. If you’re in teaching, I’d love to hear your favourite things about the most amazing job ever, and if you’re not, maybe I’ve inspired you to consider it as a career? Who knows!