I am frustrated with news about teaching at the moment. One moment we hear the government slating, to keep wages low, I reckon, and to get their new curriculum through; the next they talk us up because it suits them when there are question marks about working conditions.
But what compounds the problem is teachers being really down on themselves and the profession, and snidely ridiculing the opinions of cheery colleagues as the result of naivety and inexperience. Too often I get criticised for the audacity of not jumping on the moaning bandwagon.
I've been teaching in primary for six years. This is my second school, and both have been in tough areas of Manchester. I'm the maths lead and assessment lead, and have helped cover the long-term absence of the KS2 lead at my current school, so I certainly know what hard work and long hours are. I have clinical supervision as part of a package my school buys into because my class are so "challenging". I got married this summer and my wife regularly remarks on how unavailable I am, which sucks, but I crack on.
As you can see, I have much to complain about, but why should I? I accepted extra responsibility with my eyes open, so it would be unfair to complain about that. The normal gripes of data and paperwork are unfair as well, in my opinion, because we should be held largely accountable for pupil performance, and we should be recording what we and pupils do in class.
What gets me through is hearing my mates talk about their jobs in accounting and IT; they earn so much more than me but hate their jobs because they are soulless and unrewarding. I love working with kids, and I think the vast majority of the work I do at school and in my own time is necessary.
This week I have made a hall full of stroppy kids laugh, seen my maths team finish in the top 20 of the National Young Mathematician award, had eye contact reciprocated for the first time in weeks by one of my "at risk of permanent exclusion" boys, heard a boy who literally couldn't get children to sit next to him last year talk about how fun his friends were at playtime; the list could go on.
This is the stuff I go to work for, as do the thousands of great teachers across the country. Unfortunately, a lot of paperwork and extra responsibilities come with that. We think we have it bad? You should hear what SLT have on their plates! At least we get the nice stuff too; God knows what keeps them motivated.
I'm the one who tells off the moaners in the staff room and cheers them up, and so I suppose that was my motivation for writing this. We need more positivity about the job.
Zac McKenzie is a primary teacher in Manchester
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