Love of labour lost;Talkback

13th August 1999 at 01:00
A school teacher turns his back on 25 years in the classroom

As I have been granted retirement on grounds of ill-health I wish to tender my resignation ... and so closed more than 25 years of teaching.

I have often thought about how and when I would resign. To put pen to paper is a test of emotions difficult to describe.

So was driving to school one Monday with tears rolling down my face without knowing why. I got there but couldn't park, walk down the path, go through the door, across the hall and into "my classroom".

Everything was ready, set out and waiting for the day, week, term, year - everything. It had been "mine" for 17 years, something that I had developed. Syllabuses, courses with all the planning in writing, worksheets capable of differentiation, all were filed and waiting to be presented. But I couldn't go in. So I drove home to months of lows and feelings of isolation and rejection.

I constantly analysed myself and always came up with the question: "Why me?" Everything and anything was open to why, when and where to get some sense. Professional counsellors are available as part of "the education service" package but I had to find out about them, sort it out and get on with it.

Colleagues faded away. But my family, doctor, friends and headteacher could not have done more. The union was a must: they had seen it all before and knew the system. But above all I needed moral support. I had not been sick, been into hospital and certainly had no visible scars. I could not just "pull myself together" any more than I could operate on myself for a brain


Pupils used to get more support - letters home, phone calls, a mentor, concern because the pastoral system and PSHE was, of course, dynamic. Its ethic did not seem to spread to the staff.

Is there a sickness policy in your staff handbook? What part does an appraiser, line manager, departmental governor, the governors, senior managers, staff governors, member of the department, local authority play in your welfare? If you don't know, I hope you never have to.

Whose fault was it? I know that I had become more cynical and always seemed to be waiting for the next initiative. What ever "it" was, it got to the point where I could not take any more.

The result is that all those hours (remember 1,265), meetings, initiatives, low key responses, appraisals, OFSTED (came out very well!), changes, criticisms, teaching styles, bell times, key stages, reports, in-service training days, Baker days, reports, recordings, form filling, duties, strategies, developments, targets, deadlines, responsibilities, mission statements, differentiation and indicators (every Year 11 pupil had a list of 26, yes 26 letters and numbers after their name) have gone.

But I wonder how many people I have ignored and left in a similar situation that I find myself now.

The author, who recently retired, wants to remain anonymous

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