Skip to main content

What keeps me awake at night: 'I'm losing my nerve to teach, and if that happens I'll never regain my happy'

It took a job interview for this teacher at a struggling school to realise they weren't coping

News article image

I went for an interview today. It was an outstanding school. They said they don't even say the "Ofsted" word any more. They care about work-life balance. They want happy teachers. They encourage their teachers not to work weekends or holidays.

I don't think I got the job. Even though I haven't had the phone call, I work in a category 4 school. Ofsted is an everyday word. I am – like the rest of the school – constantly reviewed by the local authority, by governors, by the senior leadership team. I am so exam-focused in my teaching, I've forgotten how to enjoy it. I confessed to the interviewer that I'm not even sure I could identify what outstanding is any more. I couldn't prove myself because I have no say over who does my courses – we need bums on seats as much as we need results. And in sixth form we need the bums more than we need the results.

Constant marking

I didn't realise how unhappy I was: constantly marking; putting into place new initiatives while old ones aren't evaluated; giving the students yet another mock because they might have improved since the last one three weeks ago; organising half-term revision and Easter revision that I know I won't be paid for; documenting yet more interventions to compensate for students who won't do homework and parents who don't care enough about education to make them. I didn't realise I was unhappy at all until it was pointed out to me by the interviewer.

And now I know. A stranger spotted something was wrong in my life – the thing I devote most of my time to isn't working for me any more. Don't get me wrong, I love my students and can convince myself that it's all worth it for their grades. But if I can't convince a stranger that I'm happy then something has to change. I'm losing my nerve to do this, and if that happens I'll never regain my happy.

The writer wishes to remain anonymous

Tell us what keeps you awake at night by emailing

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you