People get at me all the time for the choices I have made in my life. The conversations could be scripted, they are so predictable:
Cynic: So, you’re a teacher? Easiest job in the world, hey?
Me: What now?
Cynic: Well – working nine ’til three; stickin’ a video on; all those holidays… It can’t be that hard, surely.
Cynic: Come on. Gold plated pensions? Working with kids? Teaching them to spell? It’s not exactly rocket science.
Me: Fuck you.
It’s not people judging my career choice that gets my gander, but more so the fact that they feel they know the life and stresses of teaching well enough to comment on how we as a profession feel without even ever setting foot in a classroom. Can you say arrogant? I’m not now, nor have I ever been, say, a lawyer, but I would never in my right mind dream of trying to tell one that their job was a cinch. I’ve never cleaned toilets, but I’d think twice before telling one of the school cleaners that they’ve got it easy. I know my doctor takes home a six-figure salary; I wouldn’t ever try to tell him that he doesn’t deserve it.
What makes us such easy targets?
The truth of the matter is thus: we take home a salary, yes. But we don’t get paid for our holidays – rather, our pay is simply stretched over 12 months to ensure that none of us is left short during holiday time. Our hourly pay is less than a lawyer, a doctor, even a cleaner; for we are paid based on 1265 hours a year: six hours a day. Show me a teacher who leaves at 3.30pm every single day having done all their work, and I’ll show you a liar, and a pretty tired-looking one at that. For that teacher’s pay cheque may state that they earn £25.00 per hour, but taking into account the hundreds of papers taken home, the extra-curricular clubs; the missed lunch breaks, the staying behind to resolve bullying issues; the parents’ evenings that drag on for hours longer than necessary; the parent resolution meetings; the report writing, the data collection, the assessments; the planning and preparation, the photocopying; the trawling of the internet/library/newspapers/books for resources, the reading of set texts; the early morning breakfast clubs, the late-evening catch-up sessions; revision, revision and more revision… And it works out more like a tenner.
That’s barely above the minimum wage.
We get holidays; agreed. However, it’s not like we don’t work. I have colleagues that end holidays early so that they can run a holiday revision session. My HoD spends hours during her ‘holiday time’ creating resources so that we have an easier time of it during the term. Headmasters never stop; especially mine. He’s a man on a mission and if one thing’s for certain, he never takes a break. Not to mention that we are role models within society; one false move on Facebook/Twitter/a trip into town for drinks and we are facing disciplinary action. No drinking in the week. No drugs. No hard partying. Holidays cost double what yours do. And we have to spend them with yet. more. children
I’m not allowed to wear short skirts or ‘provocative attire’; when my hair was platinum I had to tone it down. I can’t get the tattoo I desperately want and I had to kiss goodbye to my dream of a nose piercing when I was 24.
And yet we still turn up every day at half past seven with a smile on our faces.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m a lucky teacher who struck upon a method that works – I rarely stay past 4.30; I get all my reports done (somehow) and my classes are happy and achieving. I earn enough to keep me in shoes and well fed and I never miss out on a night out with my friends. I understand that there are far worse things that I could be doing with my life. I dedicate my life to those little oiks and I love it. I love it with every inch and fibre of my being. Which is why I turn up every morning and greet every one of them with a smile and a good wish, even if someone out there spent the evening before crushing my ambition with their ignorant comments.
I suppose I just wonder why those who do not wish to participate in my profession feel it appropriate to insinuate that we do nothing.
Which is why today’s post is headed with this amazing footage of a poem written by a passionate teacher who has just had enough.
What do we make?
We make a difference. And that’s what counts.