Guardian post: “Those that… want something else?”

The following blog was featured on the Guardian Teacher Network on 31st August 2012.

Comments are closed over on the GTN but you can still comment below.


Something is different. Something is not the same.

In my first year of teaching you couldn’t get me out of Paperchase and WH Smith during the penultimate holiday week. I had a notebook for everything, a personal AND a school planner as well as every type of writing implement they offered. I even made my own planner with inspirational quotes when I couldn’t find a school one that I liked.

By the end of my NQT year I discovered, to the relief of my bank manager, that stationery made little or no impact on my ability to plan or be organised. So, being an adaptable soul, I turned my attention to shopping for dressing the part in the final week. I was my own Trinny/Gok and spent hours putting together the ultimate in ‘take me seriously but see that I’m a human really’ outfits. My favourite was my ‘Friday dress’ which allowed me to go straight from school to any social engagement that I might have the energy for.

The third year was different from the start. I already knew from September that I wanted to move schools but it took until the Easter break to find the right one. It also was to be my first promotion but, as it coincided with a house move, I was unable to shop for organisational or sartorial defenses.

I was on my own. I hit the ground running. I planned, implemented and reflected from dawn to dusk but still felt massively ineffective and, for the most part, like I was missing the point.

An idea took root; “maybe this isn’t the job for me?”

By the summer break, I was ready to fold but instead I elected to work for a week and then not think about school again until the last week of the holiday, that way I would catch up on what I needed to do, get ahead but be well rested. Perfect right?

Of course that isn’t what happened. I am yet to even log in to my school email. Instead, I’ve been evaluating why I feel the way I do and trying to plan for what I want to do about it.

Needless to say, I have not set foot in Paperchase nor a single high street clothing chain.

So what happened? Why has it taken three short years to turn me from someone who genuinely loved this job to someone who is ready to throw the towel in?

Was it the move? Partially. I would advise anyone considering a move at Easter, not to do what I did. Wait. Be new in September with all the support that goes with it. That said, you have to fly the NQT nest at some point and I couldn’t have asked for a better move.

Was it the promotion? While I’ll always miss the freedom that goes with being no where near where the buck stops, I was ready. If anything, the promotion gave me more time to do the part of the job I love the most; teaching.

What is it then?

I think I just want something else.

Something that doesn’t take up every moment of every hour of every day.

Something that doesn’t make me feel like my best isn’t good enough.

Something that works for everyone involved.

And maybe that just isn’t teaching?

Or maybe this is just an extreme case of the post-holiday blues?

I do know one thing for sure though, this job isn’t going to get any easier – for anyone.

We have a Minister for Education who doesn’t understand the way hereditary policies work, a work force that is under pressure and scared and a population who don’t really know why it’s not working but have their fingers pointed at teachers all the same.

Maybe some of us have had enough of all that.


3 thoughts on “Guardian post: “Those that… want something else?”

  1. Hi there
    I just wanted to say that, just like you, I am one of those who have had enough. Something is definitely different, something is not the same (it hasn’t been for a very long time). I am going back to school tomorrow and I haven’t done a single thing (I mean, I haven’t even written down my students’ names yet). I have been teaching for almost fifteen years. I have given everything I’ve got to my sudents. The result? Two nervous breakdowns, depression, knowing that whatever I do means absolutely nothing to anyone (to all the poets out there who still think teaching is rewarding and noble: do you really think so or are you just hiding?).You’re right, this job isn’t going to get any easier.
    I have had enough of all that. This is my last year. I’m getting out. My life is worth so much more than this.
    All the best

    1. Hi Ian,
      I’m so sorry to read a fellow teacher feeling like this. It’s been a very long first half term and I hope things got better for you. I’m still figuring out what my next step is, it’s not if – just a case of when. Thanks for sharing. Esme.

  2. If it’s just not working, can you change the way you view and approach the situation? It only takes up “every moment of every hour of every day” if you allow it! Find the balance. Exercise, go to counseling, search out extra support/fun groups and activities (completely unrelated to teaching). Arrive and leave right at contract time and don’t take anything (not a single thing) home with you! Try not to take the politics so personally- because it’s not personal! Not saying any of this is easy, but you owe it to yourself and your kids to give it one last good try before you make the decision to move on. Good luck!

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