Why do I teach? I’ve never actually asked myself that question. That’s because teaching had been what I wanted to do since I was 11. I’d never really questioned the why of it because it just seemed to be a natural progression for me, decided in my head early on. It wasn’t due to one particular teacher (although I had some great ones), it wasn’t that it was in the family (my mum started teaching after I’d decided I wanted to do it) and at 11 it wasn’t from a sense of wanting to do good for others. The path I wanted to take changed – initially I wanted to be a secondary Maths teacher. I was merrily going along my way until I got to A Level Maths beyond me completely. By then I’d already decided I wanted to go into primary, so it wasn’t the end of the world. Through my A levels all I wanted was to get the grades I needed into my teacher training course. That was a bit of a theme of my time in secondary education – just doing enough to get through to the next bit. It didn’t serve me overly well, and it continued in some ways into my degree. I always loved the teaching and hated the reading and the paperwork. I’m still very similar now. Anyway, at the grand old age of 21 I qualified and got my first job. As I’ve gone through my career though I’ve been thinking more about why it is that I do what I do and why I love it so much. There’s been far too much negativity about teachers in the press so recently. Very few see it as just a job and maybe give more than they should to it, to the detriment of their own families sometimes.
So why do I teach?
I get to make a difference
The thing I love about primary is that you are there at the start. Everything we teach them are the building blocks of everything they will do from then on. If we don’t do our jobs, then others can’t do theirs. We give them the basic skills they need to take on the world in their later life. If we don’t teach them to add up, to read, to love what they do then they can’t build on it. What an amazing thing to say you’ve had a hand in. We help them with the key knowledge they need, and there aren’t many jobs where you can say you’ve had that kind of impact on someone and we get to do it day in and day out.
You get wow moments everyday
Alongside the bigger picture of what we are teaching then we get to see, every day that moment of realisation, that moment where the penny drops, and they understand. The moment where they conquer their fear of something, they widen their understanding or become better in some way. Again, we see this on a daily basis. The little squeals of delight, the little jumps for joy, the swagger you see a child walk back to their desk with when they’ve done a good job. We see them walking that little bit taller, holding their head a little bit higher and know that we have been part of that.
This is a job that is never boring
I can honestly say that no two days of my working life have been the same. I can teach the same lesson twice and it’ll be different. Each class and each lesson are so varied and has the potential to go in so many different directions. That’s not scary, it’s exciting. The best lessons are often the ones that didn’t go were you planed then to and you end up on a completely different tangent. Every second of the day has the potential to make you laugh, smile, well up or feel frustrated. I’ve never been bored in a classroom. There’s so much to do, so many conversations to be had and so much fun to be had as well.
There’s always an opportunity to learn
I’m not a big reader of education books. I don’t invest too much time in the craft of teaching and try not to over think things. But learning as a teacher can be so simple. A snatches conversation can have a profound impact on what you do in the next session. Watching what someone else does can improve your own teaching hugely. There are so many subtleties to it, that little tweaks can make big differences. There is always the chance to try something new and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out – fine, you’ve learned something new either way. CPD can be easy for teachers, and relatively little effort. Watch, learn and try it out.
It’s an awful lot of fun
I have countless tales off things that have happened in the classroom. Things that have gone disastrously wrong. Things children have said that have just made me cry laughing. Snatched looks a TAs that have meant one of us have had to leave the room to compose ourselves. That’s just working with the kids. I’ve come across so many amazing people during my career and been fortunate to learn from them. It’s a profession packed full of generosity, support and care. People are happy to give you their time, share their resources and help you out when you need it.
It’s not all plain sailing
It’s not easy though. In fact, it’s downright difficult. There are moments of exhaustion and times where things feel like they are too much. It’s during those times that I remember all of the above. The lows make the highs stand out. Things aren’t always enjoyable if they are easy. We always say it to the children – the learning pit and all that. We push ourselves to do better, as a profession we are modest and hard on ourselves. But when you look back at the bigger picture you see just why you do it.
I do it for every smile.
For every child that has made progress.
For every belly laugh in a class.
For every arm around the shoulder I’ve given and been given.
For every child who looked at me like I was crazy.
For every time I’ve felt proud of each one of them.
For all the children who I hear are excelling in their secondary school.
For me and my dream as an 11-year-old.
To make a difference.
That is why I teach.