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Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Rollercoaster of Teaching

We have all heard the expression and I am sure the song 'Life is a Roller coaster.' We can all relate to it because life is full of its ups and downs, its triumphs and its tragedies.

Whilst the ups and downs of life can be exciting, challenging and keep us on our toes it is often the straight in the road, the periods of time when things are just ticking along, that we take for granted and what we actually, when the road is rocky,  yearn for the most.

Our working lives are part of this roller coaster that is life, we spend approximately 46 years of
our life at work as a rough estimate: 

Taking the average UK Life Expectancy - 80,
               Then minus years spent at school, including degree  - 21
                                               Then minus retirement years, from 67 - 13
                                               We get a total number of years of working = 46.

The way you interpret and see these figures will most definitely depend upon your present mindset but whichever way you look at it we are at work for a lot of our lives. So ..... what does this have to do with teaching? Absolutely everything if you are a teacher because if ever there was a metaphorical roller coaster it is teaching.

Those of you poor soles familiar with my blog will know that I have been teaching a long time....
you will also know that for me teaching is a vocation, something that I am passionate about. However, that does not mean that it is not and has not been one long and winding roller coaster full of twists and turns, triumphs and tragedies.

I have had amazing experiences, worked with and alongside amazing pupils, parents and fellow professionals. I have had the privilege of being a positive influence on the lives of many of those children and adults. My mind is full of memories that I will treasure for ever, moments that have melted my heart, made me laugh and cry with sheer joy. OK, OK I will stop now... but I cling to these memories and moments, the memories from the top of the roller coaster because they keep me going when the ride reaches the precipice and goes over the edge careering for the bottom at speed.   

And boy oh boy does that teaching roller coaster career over that edge fast!! In life we often see and hear the chug, chug, chug of the ride reaching the top before it goes over the edge and if we don't hear it we perch there at  the top contemplating the drop. We get that time to prepare. With teaching we don't, the ride is fast and furious with very, very, few times to catch your breath. The image below demonstrates how the the first year of teaching is like a roller coaster, but actually this pattern is repeated for every teacher year, after year, after year...


Can it be helped? Avoided? Or as the expression goes do we just have to 'suck it up?'  

Somethings can't be changed, teachers will always experience the worry and anticipation of the new class, we will always have the stress of planning, parents evenings, targets... However, some things can and should change. Teaching needs a break from the political agenda, it needs to stop being a political football kicked between parties whose only aim is to get votes. It needs to stop being seen as a cure for all of societies ills. 

Teachers and all of those in education should be trusted to get on with the job in hand, teaching the next generation, the people who we will all need, the doctors and nurses, politicians, bricklayers, electricians, hairdressers, shop workers, leaders, followers with the rich and colourful rainbow of skills that make we need to make a prosperous and successful society.

This is not, and cannot, be achieved whilst teachers, pupils and parents suffer at the hands of political agendas. The present level of pressure cannot be sustained... It is not good for the present and future of our society...

Stop, or at least slow down the roller coaster before we all jump off!