What keeps me awake at night?

6th February 2015 at 00:00
I don't want to survive as a teacher, but to live

Many people talk about the induction year (and teaching in general) as something that you have to "survive". But that isn't living; I am not willing to simply survive.

Like many people, I have been through a lot in my life and survival is definitely a word I would use for some of those experiences. But now I want to thrive, both professionally and personally. I want the same for my students. Can children really flourish with a "surviving" teacher?

I know this is easier said than done. I commute for nearly two hours every day and work about 80 hours a week. I also lead a performing arts school on a Saturday (with help from a great team).

Forgive me if I sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet, but I don't want to be labelled as a naive, newly qualified teacher who is yet to understand the gruelling world of education. And I don't want my words to go unnoticed. Teaching is hard. It's exhausting. It's deflating. And it's not for the faint-hearted. I know all this.

But I am troubled by the talk of surviving. I don't want it to become the norm for me. So how, among the many pressures and responsibilities in the arduous life of a teacher, can we thrive and consequently help our pupils to do the same?

The answer is perspective. Why am I doing this? I want to have an enduring positive effect on children's lives. What is important? That the children learn and grow as individuals in a safe, calm, honest, accepting and progressive environment. What else is important? That I am happy, that I look after myself and that I don't shut myself off from the rest of the world but continue to enjoy life, explore, read and learn so that my classroom is a happy place that offers an abundance of enriching experiences every day.

This helps me to prioritise, to remember why we're here and to discard what doesn't serve these aims. Too many of us have forgotten why we are here: not to survive but to thrive.

Emma Danielle Walker is training to be a teacher in Manchester

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today