As the winter blues kick in, Anthea Davey reminds you why you chose the best job in the world
It's raining. The central heating is suffocating. The children have been trapped inside all day with sugary drinks and snacks from vending machines.
It was dark when you left home in the morning and it will be dark when you finish your lesson preparation, marking and admin to begin the journey back home - to begin filling in evaluations and writing assignments. At times like these, you may ponder the wisdom of your decision to become a teacher.
But before despair sets in, here are 10 reasons why it really is good to be one.
1 Job Satisfaction When you have peeled the last member of your battery hen-like charges from the ceiling and coaxednagged them into doing the required task, you should feel a well earned sense of achievement. The satisfaction of enabling students to acquire skills or knowledge can't be underestimated. As long as you're realistic about what you can teach and they can learn at different times of the day, you should make progress.
Last lesson on a Friday is not a good time to introduce a new topic. Be ready to praise yourself when a particular child manages to produce work you didn't think he or she could, or when a class shows enthusiasm.
Witnessing the moment of discovery by a child can give you a high not found in many other jobs.
2 VARIETY No two days are the same. Although a timetable gives an appearance of routine, children provide that X factor, which means life is unpredictable. Even when you have planned a lesson down to its last detail, there's no guarantee that the children won't sabotage it or the crucial bit of equipment won't break down. The important thing is not to panic. It is these unplanned elements that ensure the days are not dull.
3 Fun Teaching provides an outlet to show off and perform. The appearance of tiny minds enthralled by our words of wisdom is a thrill and extroverts can find a way of incorporating a talent for song, dance and drama into lessons. I have a horror of karaoke and other forms of public singing, but have found myself wailing to classes on occasion (Blake's "Jerusalem" went down well during a poetry lesson) to a dumbfounded and captive audience who are unable to offer too vocal a critical opinion, given that I am their teacher. Approached with the right spirit, lessons can be enjoyable.
4 Camaraderie Around the middle of November, when half-term seems a distant memory, there are weeks to Christmas and everyone is doing additional cover for colleagues who are off ill, and feeling hard done by, the staffroom comes into its own. Everyone shares their misery about the long winter term and complains about being made to do PE cover in the snow. Join in! It's a kind of group therapy and teachers are generally articulate, especially when it comes to complaining. They are your support group and will give sympathy when non-teaching friends and family remind you of the early finish to the day and school holidays. Make the most of your colleagues'
5 Holidays This would be the number one reason given by many. A friend recently pointed out to me that you are never more than four weeks from a holiday, that is, at the end of November it is around four weeks since October half-term, but just over three weeks to Christmas! The perk of holidays is largely a myth peddled by non-teachers. I like to call October and February half-terms "work from home" weeks as this is what they largely are. Christmas and Easter are busy with marking and planning. At least a week of the summer is taken up with post-academic year sorting and another week is snatched away by preparation for the new school year, leaving five weeks - as much as others get. This is what I tell my non-teaching friends and family. The reality is that the holidays are great (and well needed) and six weeks off is not to be sniffed at. Start planning the next one.
6 autonomy With constant Government directives, strategies and legislation, there can seem to be no more freedom in teaching than working on a conveyor belt. But, there is still a strong sense that you can bring your personality to the job, and when the classroom door closes, it is up to you to deliver the material in the manner of your choosing. You have a curriculum to cover, but the relationship you develop with your students can never be dictated by formulas such as the national curriculum.
Celebrate this responsibility and privilege.
7 Eternal youth Teaching keeps you young - linguistically at least. Amaze your friends with your fluency in "street speak" and knowledge of the latest crazes. Don't get carried away though - while your friends may be impressed that you can decipher Dizzee Rascal's lyrics, the kids are less likely to be in awe of your rapping skills.
8 Power The last vestige of respect for teachers is apparent in the official forms that require a signature by a person in authority and includes "teachers" in the list. I always feel transported to a bygone era when signing one of these applications and the pride of being in a respected position doesn't diminish even when it's a form for an under-16 bus pass.
9Exciting Opportunities This time next year you could have a job abroad.
There are few careers which give you the freedom to work in different countries. The TES Jobs pages include a section dedicated to the possibilities of overseas work. Teaching and travelling go well together.
Even if you decide once the spring term arrives that it's not so bad after all, there is no harm in daydreaming.
10 Making a difference Knowing you're doing an important, worthwhile job that can change lives is what keeps us going, which brings me back to tip number one: the children. They can be maddening, exhausting, entertaining and amusing, but when you know they have learnt what you have taught, you know you are doing the best job that there is.