I started teaching some 16 years ago, enjoying the variety that was offered by Primary Education and for those nice moments when – thanks to your efforts – ‘the penny drops’. I also thought the job was secure, rewarding and (although many disagree) well paid. The holidays also featured in my decision to become a teacher!
There wasn’t one causal factor in my decision to leave, but rather a wide range of equally important reasons. Mainly an excessive workload. I attempted to prioritise my workload, but when you consider there’s marking, planning, preparation and reports – I have taken the teaching out of the equation – all these are of equal importance and impossible to ignore. All these elements existed when I trained, but somehow now, it seems as if far more importance is attributed to them and by association, your reputation and success as a teacher.
The pressure to continually meet targets, deliver results and teach outstanding lessons, was by its very nature impossible. I and no other person can continually deliver such high standard everyday of their career; it is quite literally beyond what is humanly possible. I likened it to having a noose tied around my neck. As soon as those in charge feel your performance has dipped (or conveniently, you have become too expensive) it’s not a case of ‘if’ it will be pulled but more ‘when’!
I was an outstanding teacher, but when your workload slowly creeps towards 11pm each night and extends into the weekend, you know it’s time to go. Similarly, I was almost giving my family appointment times when I would be available to see them! If I wanted a weekend away, I’d have to start planning for it a month before!!
For me the decision to leave was easy and obvious. I started to work with disadvantaged children – rewarding but compared to teaching a very low paid job – and was eventually promoted to an Occupational Therapy role. In order to boost my salary, I also marked for various exam boards. Ironically, SAT’ tests have always seemed pointless to me, but I mark them for the financial benefits and nothing more.
I did feel teaching was a ‘job for life’ and never ever thought it would end. What is strange to me is that there really is ‘life after teaching’ and that my current job, is just another part of my life – like cooking, walking in the park and going to the pub – and not the only reason for my existence. In short, my decision to quit has been liberating.