Teaching is undoubtedly the most relaxing part of my day. There is nothing I like more than being in the classroom, inspiring young people and watching them learn.
Yet, as soon as the bell goes for the end of the lesson, I am filled with dread.
Tentatively, I approach my laptop to check my emails, worrying about what might lie in wait for me. Will there be a message from a parent complaining that I haven’t pushed their son or daughter far enough in maths? Will there be an unreasonable data-input target from my head of department? Or a memo to attend yet another after-school staff meeting that incorporates endless government-driven fallacies?
I am in the final term of my NQT year and should be looking forward to a long and fruitful career in education. But I am more apprehensive than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the first to extend my love for the profession. It is a cliché to say that teaching is the most rewarding job in the world, but I really believe this to be true.
The teaching isn’t the part that worries me. It is the sheer amount of negativity surrounding the profession. Having worked my way through the ranks as a sports assistant, teaching assistant and now NQT, I have seen some teachers succeed through sheer determination and passion, while others have burnt out and left the profession because of the weight of the expectations placed upon them.
I am worried that I will not be able to stay positive and that I will be one of those who buckles under the pressure. This is what makes me scared to open my laptop.
Until now, I have been lucky to have a fantastic mentor who advises me, challenges me and has supported me through some difficult times in my first year. He has taught me that our job is not our life, and our life should not be affected by our job – even though that seems to be the trend in this profession.
However, even with this support, I’m still worried. I’ve come to understand how very easy it is to be sucked into colleagues’ negative mindsets and habits. Without knowing it, they have an ability to control your happiness.
Teachers already face an insurmountable amount of negativity in the media. We are judged by parents, local education authorities, the government and by ourselves. The last thing a new teacher needs is for their day-to-day school life to be negatively affected by those who are supposed to be collectively supporting each other.
Next year, I hope that I am able to stay self-aware and enforce limits that will help me to step away from work when I need to. I know that the solution is to surround myself with pioneers in the staffroom – those colleagues who share a smile and who still know to have fun. They will be my best resource.
Then, if I open my inbox and find that it is filled with negative messages, I will know exactly where to turn.
The writer is a primary teacher at an independent prep school in Kent