I have a confession. I think that, just maybe, I would like to be a teacher. Yes, those semi-authoritative figures that are pinned down in an attack against failing pupils, despite having to deal with the backend of virtual abuse from those very students every day. I want to be one.
The teaching profession is not welcomed at university; whilst my own lecturers are all convinced we’re marking our status as leading linguistic researchers, my fellow peers meet my possible career plans with a unimpressed ‘oh.’ Always considered a ‘last resort,’ it seems there is no room for teaching in the glossy careers catalogues that push medicine and law. So, what has encouraged this ‘last resort’ outlook on teaching? Once people leave education, and have felt the full force of the teaching profession, it seems they are unable to view it again in a positive light. But please, let’s not forget where we’ve come from.
Your school years might not be those you wish to revisit, but you can’t deny that school plays a major role in character development. Admittedly, we’ve all had some awful teachers, where podcasts would have done a better job. However, some of our teachers are the ones that shaped us, and those are the ones we will always remember. My brother’s primary school teacher, for one,
helped my brother bake a cake for our Mum’s birthday after my parents split; my Spanish teacher cancelled a whole day of lessons to help a distressed pupil prepare for her A-Level speaking exam. These are the ones that recognise our talents, lead us away from misdemeanour and kindle our future passions. These are the people who are building our future specialists, from scientists to entrepreneurs; it’s a shame that we treat them with such apathy. Who would we be without them?
Since starting my job as a tutor in September, I can affirm that those whoare fans of the popular saying (it goes something along the lines of ‘those who can’t do…’) have no idea what they are talking about, and quite frankly, are terrified at the thought of controlling difficult teenagers whilst trying to convey the motifs of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth.’ I think the opposite: teachers can do everything. At work, I’ve (not always successfully) balanced time management, behaviour control, positive praise and written progress notes, with the challenging interjections of upset and frustrated 5 year-olds, angry teenagers and children that are just plain rude. All the time. But I still love it. Dealing with such unpredictable situations has awarded me a multi-tasking ability like never before. So much falls on my shoulders that I have been completely oblivious to the outside world, notably home time… It’s no wonder Teach First’s Graduate Programme is sold as a Leadership Development Programme, because that’s essentially what it is. Anyone who has been intrigued by BBC3’s Tough Young Teachers will have seen the shit that teachers put up with, as well as the hours that these young educators, barely out of school themselves, put into something they love, even when gratitude and money is significantly lacking.
So we might all laugh about how awful one of our teachers was, but as I’ve discovered, once you’re in the classroom, the bravado disappears and suddenly it’s you and them. You’re the teacher, and they’re the students. Whilst they can cross that line, you never can. You remain an authority but also a beacon of love and care, providing attention to children who have perhaps been left behind by the nature of modern parenting. Fulfilling a selfless role, you are the bridge between a student and a professional, and pupils will walk over you to get there. Some will stamp and crush you as they do so, some will scatter thanks across their pathway. And this is what you must endure and appreciate as a teacher: you are a bridge. And without bridges, we wouldn’t get anywhere.