When I started writing this blog almost a year ago, I didn’t really think through why I was writing it. I think in reality, it was just a bit of a project – something new to try. As time has gone on, I’ve used it as an opportunity to share what life in a classroom is really like: the challenges, the successes and the rewards.
I haven’t posted much this academic year. It’s not because I have nothing to say: quite the opposite. I have much that I could write about. I am facing many, many challenges this year which I would love to be able to share, to seek advice, to give support to others, and mostly to get things off my chest. However, I can’t, as too many confidences could be broken and identities guessed by those who know me. I miss being able to write – as time goes on, I am sure there will be many positive experiences and successes that I can share. However, without betraying any confidentiality, I talk to my family about what I experience in my classroom and in the school.
Today, my dad gave me a card, signed from “a proud dad”. He told me that he was proud of all I have achieved in the past year, with my blog, my personal experiences and how I deal with all I am faced with at work. His words really affected me. He said “I didn’t realise what teaching is all about.” Nor do many, many people. Sadly, it’s not just about standing in front of a class and teaching them. That’s what it should be about. But nowadays, it’s about pastoral support, social care, providing children with stability, sometimes providing them with the basics like food and clothes, providing them with a friendly face and someone who cares. Giving them someone they can talk to, tell their troubles to, let out their anger with. Getting to the bottom of why they are angry or scared or unkind, rather than just punishing them for lashing out. Getting the balance right between supporting the needy and working with those who just get on with it. Making sure that no one is overlooked or left behind. And then worrying about getting the children to where they should be, identifying gaps, planning interventions, monitoring progress and then doing it all over again.
If I’m honest, when I went into teaching 16 years ago, I didn’t really know what it was about either. It was a different job back then. Perhaps my rose-tinted glasses have got rosier with hindsight, but back then, it was just about teaching. Yes, there were children with different needs to the rest, children with behavioural difficulties and educational needs. But for the most part, children just got on with it. As the years have gone by, I have had to learn new skills, develop new strategies and, if I’m honest, become tougher to help children to deal with their own challenges. As a 21 year old NQT, there is no way I would have had the resilience to deal with this year’s challenges. I would have fallen apart within weeks. As an experienced and well respected teacher, I finish every day exhausted, worn down and emotionally drained. But I face each day with new energy and resolve, and a vow to support these children to the very best of my ability. Do any of us really know what teaching is about? I don’t think we do. But I do know it’s no longer just about teaching.