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


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now