What keeps me awake at night

21st November 2014 at 00:00
Gripped by the guilt of switching subjects

I had wanted to be a teacher for years and finally made the career change from industry to education just before I turned 40.

For the first few years of my new career, I taught a core subject. From Day 1, I couldn't believe the pressure and workload. However, I persevered, choosing to believe the colleagues who said it would become easier after the first two or three years.

But as time moved on, my every waking hour during term-time (and much of the holidays) was consumed with work. I came to realise that I would have to let my normally high standards slip just to be able to fit everything in and meet the seemingly impossible targets.

After four years, I was at breaking point. Early on in the last academic year, I resolved to hand in my notice at Easter.

Then, as luck would have it, an opening came up at my school to teach a subject for which I have a genuine passion and which is closely linked to my former career. I applied and got the job.

I was happy to have been successful, but still entertained doubts that perhaps the subject wasn't the problem: perhaps it was me. Perhaps I just wasn't cut out for teaching after all.

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. My new subject is everything I hoped it would be. It's academic and creative and, as it's optional for the older students, they are willing, engaged and interested. They are already achieving more than I had dared to hope for.

I am still working hard, of course, but it no longer feels like a chore. I am delighted that I chose this path rather than giving up.

Now what keeps me awake at night is not the workload: instead it is the guilt I feel for having abandoned my colleagues in my old department.

I am so pleased that I have seen a new, far more enjoyable, side to teaching that many teachers never experience. I just can't help feeling a little bit bad about it.

The writer is a teacher in the North of England

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com


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