For me, one of the most horrifying statistics in teaching is that around one in four newly qualified teachers leaves the profession in one year. How has things got so bad so quickly where almost half of the new workforce leave the profession straight away? What makes things worse is that people seem to accept this as the norm.
Qualified teachers are part of the problem
Throughout my teacher training and my NQT year I was constantly reminded about how hard teaching is. Every week when I was stressing about the ridiculous workload that was in front of me I would get the stereotypical teacher reply of ‘We have all been there’. Teacher training seems to have become a sort of right of passage and initiation for those brave enough to attempt to get into the profession. Some teachers I have worked with have even seemed to enjoy the fact that it is so difficult for new teachers so as to make them seem more powerful.
The biggest problem is that this mentality of we have all been there and got through it has meant that no one is really doing anything to change it. It is so ingrained in the teacher profession for newbies to struggle and cry that it is even acceptable. A quick research online will show a massive amount of stories about how people cried and had massive anxiety and stress throughout the first couple of years of teaching and yet nothing is done about it. In what way is that at all acceptable? Is breaking talented people until they cry really the way to get Britain’s best and brightest into teaching?
My experience on entering teaching
In no way am I denying that teaching is a tough job. I have my struggles just like every other teacher out there but I do the job because I love sharing my knowledge with others. I love being able to be creative with the way I present new information to children and every day being different from the rest. But like most people I hated my first year of teaching. I was constantly told about what I could and couldn’t do. I was always told that teaching should be done in this way or that I should watch this teacher and copy what they do. Every observed lesson felt like I was constricted into doing my job someone else’s way. It was not until I was free to teach my way that I really enjoyed teaching and as a result had a much better relationship with my students.
I don’t pretend that I know exactly how new teachers should enter the profession but for me one thing is clear. Teachers should be free to explore and teach in a way that works for them. It takes people a long time to find the right personality in the classroom and as such new teachers should not be so bogged down by paperwork which keeps them working until 3 in the morning. We don’t expect our students to perform when stressed,tired and overworked. Why should our new teachers be any different?