What am I doing?

I wanted to be a teacher all of my life, finally I got to training to be one and half way in I wondered if it’s what I wanted at all. Maybe I’d made a big mistake, I wasn’t enjoying it, it wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, I just didn’t feel I was getting anywhere.

I sat and reflected on what was going wrong, was it me? Them? It?

I kind of immediately accepted that there were some crappy things going on in my life at the moment, some relatively trivial, some more serious. I figured that whatever I was doing, even if I was basking on a beach with millions in the bank, these things would be making me feel a bit down, stressed, preoccupied. So I had to put some of the way I was feeling down to matters totally unrelated to teaching and studying teaching.

That cheered me up a bit, maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Then I got to thinking that I’d read a lot of very pessimistic articles lately about the FE sector and I realised that they’d made me start thinking of bureaucracy and public sector thinking and working, public sector management, tussles between the ‘professionals’ or ‘practitioners’ and the management. I remembered how much I’d hated that in the NHS and how it had been a big factor in my moving on from a job I actually loved. I guess some of me had started wondering if I could cope with all of that again. Hands tied by targets, budgets, management who just didn’t know what the coal face looked like, overly prescriptive courses of study that left little scope for humanising and individualising the delivery of learning in the true sense. I figured it was time to read and watch some more positive media, look at breakthrough moments, read inspirational stories about how making a difference is possible even in the midst of a highly prescriptive and target focused industry. I began to even feel happier about what I was doing.

Then I thought of my placement experience and again reminded myself not to compare it to anyone else’s and instead of looking at what I wasn’t able to do yet, to look at the things I was doing, like building relationships with the students, observing how to and how not to do things, valuing my mentor’s many years in education and wiping away the dusting of complacency and the grime of change and valuing the enthusiasm which still clearly exists. Today the students actually cheered when they heard I was delivering the lesson and my mentor commented on the obvious and real rapport I have with them, most notably with each of them, he mentioned how well I seemed to know them as individuals and how valuable that knack of making a connection would be to me as a teacher. I began to feel my enthusiasm returning.

I felt that because I didn’t teach as much as I’d like that I wasn’t getting the rush of building experience or the enthusiastic glow of planning lessons and tasks and activities which I craved. So I began to plan lessons anyway, for units I might teach and for units I might never teach and for units I’ll definitely teach one day. I started to build a library of Prezis and Powerpoints, skeleton lesson plans and a battery of tasks and activities and doing that started to make me feel like a teacher, like I was preparing for one day, one day that was coming soon. I started to feel much better and my enthusiasm came flooding back in buckets.

I’ll stop there but there were so many things which were affecting me that didn’t need to be affecting me, there were things that had nothing to do with teaching, things that were solvable, things which were means to an end, an end that was in near sight.  It just helped to re-focus and to retrieve the passion I had for teaching from when I was a little girl running summer school for the neighbourhood kids in the school holidays.

I’m back on track. I’m happy with that.


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