Teaching and the media

Teaching and how people perceive it is always in the media. ‘You only work 9-3’ and ‘You’re always on holiday’ are just two of the commonly heard phrases. Government policy on teaching is always changing, or so it seems. I qualified in 2002 and have seen goodness knows how many changes to the curriculum, strategies, policies etc. Each secretary of state for education seems to see it as their mission in life to annoy teachers as much as possible whilst wanting to come across as doing right by the children in the system at the time. 

At present there are huge changes going through and proposed for secondary education. I do not teach this age group so I can’t speak with any confidence about it, except to say that everything appears to be happening at breakneck speed without speaking to those who it affects; the teachers. How are they supposed to do the best for the children when they are having to redesign all those long, medium and short term plans that take hours and hours to put together? 

In primary the curriculum has big changes too. Some of it positive and some not. I have been away from mainstream primary education for 9 years now so I’m not up with details. Again however, teachers will be spending more and more time once the children have gone home and in the holidays replanning everything. 

Our professionalism is put under scrutiny all the time. Believe it or not we are professionals though you’d never guess by the way we are treated in the media. 

Ofsted’s agenda appears to be changing by the month and what they look for when they visit schools seems a mystery or bizarre at best. (Rapid progress in a 20 minute session for children with profound learning difficulties anyone?)

Licensing for teachers is the latest story to hit the headlines thanks to Tristram Hunt MP. Instead of listening to teachers and other staff in education he has gone for something yet again which appears to be teacher bashing. We are all ready subject to regular inspections, our pay is now linked to our performance (my feelings on this are maybe for another post) and are accountable in so many ways. We are always trying to learn and develop and continuing cpd is part of every school’s life. Why do we need licensing? 

Many feel that 2 year olds should be in school to help them have the best start. As an early years teacher and mother to a 3 and a half year old I can not disagree with this more. Our children need time to explore and play and be nurtured and cared for not in a school environment. 

I challenge anyone to find a teacher that is happy with the state of education at the moment. All we ask is that we are listened to and respected. We want what is best for the children in our care. We want them to achieve their very best. We want them to learn. Please please let us do this. 

Emotions and teaching

I am an emotional person. I’m not ashamed to say that plenty of things make me well up and be in need of a tissue! Heck I’ll even admit to crying when Helen Daniels died in Neighbours! 

 

So what do I want to say? Well the media is full of all sorts of teacher bashing at the moment from every angle you look. Emotions never come in to it. For me, emotions are a huge part of teaching. I connect with the children and the families of those I teach. I can’t help it and nor do I want to change that. 

I teach in a school for children with severe or profound learning difficulties. I have been here a while and have absolutely found my niche. The children require me to be creative with my planning and teaching. I love this as that is the kind of person I am. I have to think about each individual and how I can help them achieve the targets I have spent hours setting for them. I have to think about their physical and developmental limitations and their sensory needs. All this brings me close to the children. I currently have 7 children in my class, this is an average size for the school. I get to know my children so very well that when something changes I spot it or even pre-empt it happening. This can be positive but it can also be tricky and scary too. Many of the children I have taught/teach have huge medical issues that impact on their and their families daily lives. They also affect me. I have had more than my fair share of chest infections, coughs, colds and snotty noses but that doesn’t bother me. Part and parcel of the job. 

However, I have also had more than my fair share of children admitted to hospital, spend time on ICU and sadly also a number of children have passed away. 

This is tough. Really tough. I am emotionally connected to these children and their families and when they do become very poorly I worry about them. I have spent time sat next to them in ICU and at their bedside and I have cried buckets and buckets of tears. Saying good bye to a pupil is just so tough and never gets any easier, even for those who we know it is likely to happen to soon. 

However I have also cried tears of joy as I have seen a child take their first step independently, make their first attempt at crawling, say your name for the first time or something else equally moving. 

I wanted to write this down. I am not exactly sure why but I felt I should. I guess it is part of the job that doesn’t get mentioned in the media. We care. We all care. We really couldn’t do our job well if we didn’t!