To ask teachers why they do it and how they cope and don't end up crying when they come home of an evening?

(62 Posts)
LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 05:56:57

I had to take a kids martial arts class last weekend with DS 13. I had a chest infection, granted, but it was fucking traumatic and DS and I never want to do it ever again. I think Sensei is really pissed off with us about it.

How the hell do teachers manage it? Especially ones that teach at secondary school? All I can think is that they must be mad, have not realised what they were getting themselves into or have nerves of steel.

Even teaching the little ones must be nearly as bad. My parents were both teachers, and my dad wangled early retirement. They were always stressed and moaning. My dad hated every minute of it (secondary school). He used to refer to the children and parents as "the shower of shit". The pay is good, and you get good holidays, pension and middle class professional status. Is that the appeal for most people?

How the hell do you not end up having nenrvous breakdowns and being in tears every evening. Hats off to you, I wouldn't and couldn't do it. I like children, but not enough to spend most of my week with 30 of them.

Leena49 Mon 08-Oct-12 06:02:15

My DH is a special ed teacher in secondary school. He gets to teach the most disturbed kids. He loves it and is very passionate about his job.
I teach in FE 16 to 20 year olds. I really enjoy it. I have another profession nursing so don't need to do this but chose to.
It's not that we are mad or are putting up with it. We like to think we make a difference.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:14:05

I know there are people for whom it is a vocation. That's what I was wondering. Do you have colleagues who hate it though? Fwiw worth I would love to go be able to do the degree etc to become a mental health nurse. Uni is so expensive now and we can't afford for me to do it sad. So, I can see where you and your DH are coming from.

I think my dad went into teaching for job security, pension, holidays and professional status. My mum, not so much. She found it rewarding and was very good at it. However, I think the worst thing for her was the fact that the curriculum was constantly changing and new proceedures were always being introduced. That made it very stressful for her.

thebody Mon 08-Oct-12 06:19:44

You can either teach or you can't. For your dad to refer to the pupils like that was disgusting, he obviously shouldn't have been a teacher and I feel sorry for his pupils.

My dsis is a head if a huge secondary school and its her life vocation.

I dm now a TA, was a nurse and genuinely love it.

All jobs have stresses, teachers no more or less than most other professional roles, if you can't hack or enjoy your job it's time to look elsewhere.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 06:20:13

I'm of your mother's persuasion. I enjoy the job, and teaching children.
I love the enthusiasm of children for knowledge, the different ways that they learn and the moment when something 'clicks'
I hate the level of government interference, the constant changes and the way that nothing is ever given time to be embedded as good practice.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 06:21:05

I do dislike it being seen as a vocation, it is a skilled, professional job.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:23:58

Actually thebody, if you find that shocking, you would have been mortfied by their conversation at the end of the day. Talk about hoisting up your judgey pants (with regards to parents). To listen to them you would have thought that our family was completely functional and free from issues. That was definitely not the case. As long as you are middle class professionals that's ok though. hmm

I often wonder if this is typical, or if they were just a bit snobby.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 06:26:35

Oh, and coping?
Conpartmentalisation, reorganising your life so that you ake advantage of the way your life can fit round the job and vice-versa.
Having a professional job face that you put on as you get to work and take off when you leave, so that the two areas of stress don't combine into a tsunami that wipes you out.
I've been up since 5.30am creating resources for use in class this week. It is the quietest time in my house, and when I can spread everywhere without getting in anyone else's way.
I did nap last night between 8-10pm, then socialised with my teenager and OH til midnight. Works for me.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:31:26

WofflingOn, I suppose every job has its stresses. I have a friend who works for the DWP and she gets stressed, but civil servants seem to have much less stress than teachers.

I don't doubt that it is a highly skilled job, but I would have thought that one would also need to feel it was their vocation to love the job and find it rewarding. Tbh my mum worked at a school in a really rough area, one of the members of staff was physically assaulted by one of the mums and they were regularly told to 'eat shit and die' and other such pleasantries

DozyDuck Mon 08-Oct-12 06:33:51

It's a hard job. You have to be really passionate about it. Teachers who don't like teaching are usually rubbish

Chubfuddler Mon 08-Oct-12 06:35:19

Teaching is like any other profession - some are brilliant, some so so and some are hanging on by their fingernails.

I also dislike jobs being described as vocations. Particularly "traditional" female roles ie teaching and nursing. Describing these roles as a vocation smacks of an excuse not to pay people properly. Being a nun is a vocation. Teaching is not.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:37:19

I've never thought of vocation meaning that. I've always thought of it in terms of a real passion to do something that goes beyond thinking of the pay etc. A vocation could be anything, an artist, doctor or a mechanic.

Chubfuddler Mon 08-Oct-12 06:38:21

Passion is different. I'm passionate about my job - I'm a lawyer. But no one would ever describe law as their vocation.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:42:46

OK, I've always thought it was basically doing something for a living that you would do anyway regardless of whether it was your job.

Euphemia Mon 08-Oct-12 06:43:58

I'm fairly new to primary teaching; I've been doing supply for four years and I've never been anywhere long enough to get too stressed by it ... yet!

The teaching itself is fantastic - seeing a group of children finally "getting" the number bonds to 10 is the sort of thing I love. The joy on a child's face when they tell me about something happening in their life is inspiring.

I don't like the continually shifting sands, new initiatives from politicians looking to make their mark, thinking they have the magic key to unlock Scotland's literacy and numeracy problems. The endless planning, paperwork, school improvement plans, etc., which leave us no time for really thinking about how to improve our teaching.

I find the staffroom a great source of support. I've worked in a few schools in deprived areas, and naice middle-class MNetters would be shocked by some of the conversations and language that go on. It's gallows humour, a safety-valve without which we would all be off sick with stress.

Chubfuddler Mon 08-Oct-12 06:44:04

But that's exactly what I mean. Why on earth would anyone do those things for nothing? They wouldn't.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:45:38

They might volunteer at a youth or community group? That's what I was getting at. Sorry that I've got the wrong end of the stick!

Euphemia Mon 08-Oct-12 06:46:57

Lesley I have a colleague who is told by pupils to "Fuck off" on a daily basis and called a bitch by them. Is there any other job (except perhaps the prison service or mental health services) where that would be tolerated? sad

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:48:13

I had no idea that behaviour like that was even allowed Euphemia.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 06:49:33

Exactly, Chubfuddler. It is a job I enjoy, but I wouldn't be doing it is I wasn't paid well.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:49:59

Do you exlude pupils for that. Sorry if that is incorrect terminology, that's what it was called in my day.

I have been told to fuck off by colleagues and bosses in the past and been bullied at work. You'd be surprised at the treatment you get at some companies.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 06:51:29

Of course it isn't allowed, OP, but the sanctions available are sometimes ineffective. The most effective method is to work out why they are using that sort of language and see if there is any way to fix or counter the root cause.
Which takes time, effort and stamina.

RobynRidingHood Mon 08-Oct-12 06:51:53

It's not a job I'd want to do. If you think the teachers are on the end of it take a look at the MDS and LSAs. Lower than low. The behaviour they get is a thousand times worse than in the classroom.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 06:53:56

Our LSAs and MDS have the same access to sanctions as the teachers.

50smellsofshite Mon 08-Oct-12 06:55:23

I get why people want to teach primary, they are still a bit cute at this age. But, secondary? Why on God's earth?

Maybe it's because I have a pretty revolting 15 year old at the moment but the thought of having to try to impart information to a bunch of teenagers makes me want to cry.

All my dealings with my sons's school I keep apologising for him. I'm so sorry you have to teach the insolent bag of shite.

At my meeting with the school last week about my son's underperformance so far in his GCSEs I asked the teacher "how do you stop teenagers thinking of you as the enemy?" and she said "I have no idea but if you find out tell me because I don't know how much more I can take..." she lost her composure for a few minutes and then was fine. I saw real pain and anguish.

Secondary school teachers shoud be paid double what they are now.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:55:54

WofflingOn, the sad thing is that if they are teenagers, it's probably peer pressure and wanting to look 'cool'. At least it was at my secondary school.

I have a lot of respect for teachers. There were a couple when I was at secondary school who had breakdowns and had to leave. It could have been stuff going on outside work, and probably was, but having to get flack off horrible teenagers all day couldn't have helped.

Euphemia Mon 08-Oct-12 06:57:28

Especially given the area the school is in, we're very mindful that 50% of the male prison population and a third of the female prison population in the UK were excluded from school. We're lucky that we have some support for learning staff who can work with these pupils, but obviously it's disruptive to their learning to be out of the class too much.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 06:59:50

It must be tough Euphemia. I would have thought that making progress with the disruptive pupils would take a lot of one-to-one support. From what I can gather budgets have been cut, and there may not have been the money available before that.

mumto2andnomore Mon 08-Oct-12 07:00:03

I teach little ones and love it , yes there are parts of the job which are frustrating mainly the paperwork, meetings, shifting goalposts etc but the actual teaching bit is great smile Not sure I'd fancy secondary though after some of the things dd tells me go on !

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 07:04:13

I'd enjoy secondary too, I'm trained for KS3 as well.
Would be good not to have to teach 11 subjects and have slightly less parental interaction on a daily basis. Plus you could reuse some of your planning!

teacherandguideleader Mon 08-Oct-12 07:07:16

I teach 14-19 year olds and rather than being a subject specialist as such I specialise in low ability, disaffected children. These children often have horrible home lives and it is hard and upsetting. It can be frustrating spending hours planning lessons knowing that whether they engage or not largely depends on what happened at home last night.

However, what gets me through is when one of these children is proud of a piece of work they have produced even if it is the simplest task, when one of them says hi in the corridor or the best of all 'thank you' at the end of a lesson.

A bottle of wine at the weekend also helps smile

Euphemia Mon 08-Oct-12 07:13:51

teacher I have a pupil like that - dad went to prison for a truly horrific murder a few months ago, mum getting a hard time in the community because of it so they've had to move house. The wee lad we're pretty sure is ADHD, cannot sit still or focus on his work unless you sit beside him. Poor wee guy is a pain in the bum at times, but how could he be otherwise?!

He made a junk model in school last week, all by himself, chuffed to bits with it so he went all round the school showing it off to teachers, dinner ladies, everyone! He came back covered in stickers and with a grin from ear to ear. smile

Euphemia Mon 08-Oct-12 07:14:48

teacher at the weekend hmm


LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 07:16:42

I'm glad you get thanked teacherandguideleader! You certainly deserve it. Even some of the children from 'naice' areas were disruptive and off the rails when I was at secondary school. I have a theory that once people hit puberty anything can happen. Even kids from typical middle class families go off the rails and for no apparent reason. I became completely disengaged. I was only really good at art and I'm sure I have dyscalculia as a few teachers described me as numerically dyslexic. I don't think dyscalculia was even recognised in those days. The result was that I felt really stupid and lost all confidence. Plus, I have always been a very sickly person and had to miss most of year 10 and 11 dues to illness.

I'm surprised that you have a lot of parental interraction in year 11 *WofflingOnP. Mind you, I've had to be in contact with the school since DS (13) developed a dislike for homemwork. The little beggar wasn't writing things in his homework diary. I had to call and ask whether he wasn't writing things down, because he seemed to have very little homework. Generally speaking there's much less opportunity for parents to talk to hassle the teachers.

noblegiraffe Mon 08-Oct-12 07:18:09

I teach part time secondary at a generally nice middle class state school. I can't remember the last time I was told to fuck off!

It was way more stressful when I was full time because I spent pretty much all of my evenings working. Now that I have fewer lessons to plan for and mark, I get most of it done during the day.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 07:21:18

'I'm surprised that you have a lot of parental interraction in year 11'

I don't teach Y11, I have year 6 who are 11 years old. smile

sashh Mon 08-Oct-12 07:22:12

I love the look on the face of someone who has just 'got it'. They may have not understood something sine primary school and then at age 17 something finally goes 'click'.

I have gone home and cried, sometimes I have not made it home before the tears start.

WofflingOn Mon 08-Oct-12 07:22:28

Oh. 11 in my post referred to the number of subjects a primary teacher is expected to cover.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 07:27:19

Aha, I read it as year 11 subjects! Oh, and parents always want to speak to the teacher.

noblegiraffe, glad you don't get told to fuck off!

EvilTwins Mon 08-Oct-12 07:35:04

I teach secondary. I don't generally find it that stressful. Busy, yes, but I don't remember the last time I felt so stressed I wanted to cry. It's tiring, and the workload is large if you want to do a good job, but I love it. Last week, I didn't manage to eat my lunch before the end of the school day at all because I was doing auditions for the school play and then having go to straight to my lesson. I spent the whole week grinning madly- tbh I find my job quite exhilarating most of the time. If I didn't, I wouldn't do it. I have colleagues who seem to be on the edge of breaking down a lot. I think they're either in the wrong school, or in the wrong job. No one should allow their job to have that much of a negative impact on their life.

Fishwife1949 Mon 08-Oct-12 07:38:49

LesleyPumpshaft my husbands cousin teahers business studys and he heates chikdren put it this was we have a child and we dont trust him with them

He wont even work full time he hates it so much he temps in diffrent schools
I feel so sorry for the chikdren in comes in contact with

Hes a really nice guy but SHOULD not be working with chikdren in any shape or form you should see what he writes about his students on facebook

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 07:42:37

Posting that stuff on Facebook is a really silly thing to do! Sorry, but people have to be careful with social media.

Alligatorpie Mon 08-Oct-12 07:44:39

I teach primary, really enjoy it although there has been the odd day in my career when I have gone Home and cried. But that is mostly due to parents - not the kids! I also did my teacher training at 37, after being successful in the counseling field.

I could not teach secondary. They are the amazing teachers!

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 07:50:20

They certainly are amazing. As I said before, most of them have nerves of steel. Fwiw I was lucky to have had some amazing teachers at secondary school. They were generally the ones who you could talk to and have a laugh with. If you over stepped the boundaries heads would roll.

Yorkstar Mon 08-Oct-12 08:00:58

I teach secondary - I love being I the classroom actually teaching. It's all the other crap that comes with it. Ofstead constantly changing their goal posts, the inconsistency of exam boards, the parents who are rude, the pupils who feel it's your job and you owe them something. The endless tasks of completing/updating data, figures and targets about this years projected targets. I love teaching but I often feel it comes secondary to everything else the schools expect of us.
I have worked nearly every night since starting back in sept. I have worked all weekend when I should be spending time with my little family. I cried yesterday when thinking about everything else I have to do. My husband is concerned about me. I love teaching but cannot do this job forever feeling like this sad

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 08:11:07

The whole thing about goal posts shifting is really stressful. I've never been a teacher, but had that when I was managing websites. The worst thing was a bullying boss. I used to cry at the end of most days. sad

The whole paperwork and planning side of it sounds crap. My mum hated it when she was teaching. Actually, i think she did cry on occasion, but not because of the children. There was also a head at one point who was a total bitch.

CreamOfTomatoSoup Mon 08-Oct-12 08:35:19

I teach secondary. Sometimes I do come home and cry! But the kids are very entertaining.You learn to develop a very thick skin.

Ashvis Mon 08-Oct-12 08:35:26

50smells, I've just picked myself off the floor after laughing so hard after your comment bout primary kids being cute! Lots of them are, yeah, but trust me, they are not all cute and lovely! I taught for almost 10 years before leaving the profession to raise my son and taught every stage from nursery to P7 and being perfectly honest, I much preferred teaching older children. I worked with one very little boy who trashed the classroom on several occasions, threatened people at home with knives...And he was only 5!

Some days I did go home in tears, after finding out some of the young kids I worked with had been sexually abused or seriously physically and emotionally abused, that stuff is incredibly hard to deal with. What you have to do as a teacher is remember that you only have them for a limited time and can't protect them outside school so you have to make your classroom a lovely, safe environment.

I never cried because of children's poor behaviour though because you can't start thinking that they only behave that way cause they hate you. Bad behaviour has lots of different causes behind it and a good teacher takes the time to learn why. I love teaching, even working with the crazy kids is massively rewarding but I'm not sure if I'll return to teaching because of the crazy ass paperwork and the changing goal posts.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 08-Oct-12 08:37:50

Tbh I think I would come home and cry too, but then I am highly strung, emotional and anxious at the best of times. It really doesn't take much!

echt Mon 08-Oct-12 09:38:48

I used to be in tears quite often in my last school in the UK, and I had been teaching for 25+ years.

It's never happened since I came to Australia. The main difference is the lack of OFSTED, league tables, and a supportive SLT. All of these things could change, of course, and the government would love to have the top-down management systems of the UK.

I'm now as good a teacher as I can be. Nothing of any substance is in my way. That's the difference.

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Mon 08-Oct-12 09:40:56

I was wondering this OP....I once took 20 10 year olds for a drama class and it was frigging AWFUL!. I was a mess! It's a leaves some people a gibbering wreck.

My teacher friends drink large amounts of wine ...

I would love love LOVE to teach year 6!!!!

One day.......

Mintyy Mon 08-Oct-12 09:48:13

Are you being unreasonable about what?

minxthemanx Mon 08-Oct-12 09:48:22

There are days that it is unbelievably stresful, that I have no time to eat or go to the toilet, or breathe deeply. But every day, somewhere, I laugh with the kids, or help someone to learn, or make them feel better about themselves, or teach them a fact. I am permanently knackered, and only work 3 days a week. But I wouldn't change career for anything - been doing this 22 years, and love it. It's as simple as that.

minxthemanx Mon 08-Oct-12 09:49:35

BTW I teach Year 6 (31 kids) two days a week, and Foundation Stage (30 kids) on the other day. One extreme to the other!

minxthemanx Mon 08-Oct-12 09:51:25

And the worst part of the job is not the kids, it's difficult, rude and aggressive and rude parents. hmm

MissAnnersley Mon 08-Oct-12 09:53:47

Teaching is a great job - I love it. No, I don't cry at the end of a day. grin

I love the fact that I am so busy. A day at work just flies in and I will reach a certain point in the afternoon when I realize I haven't eaten or gone to the toilet. I think that is an indicator of how engrossing a job it is.

I wouldn't want to do anything else.

mummytime Mon 08-Oct-12 09:54:53

I quit training as a secondary teacher, but it wasn't the kids. They were lovely even/especially the naughty ones. It was the sheer mountain of paperwork, and jumping through hoops.

noblegiraffe Mon 08-Oct-12 09:55:50

Ooh, I remember the last time I was told to fuck off! It was a couple of years ago, a Y9 told me to 'go fuck myself' as he stormed out of the classroom. My response was not to cry, rather to sigh as he had just created extra paperwork for me. He was excluded for 3 days, perhaps that's why I don't get told to fuck off very often! Funnily enough I often see the same lad in the corridor now he's in Y11 and he always has a cheery hello for me.

Bad behaviour tends to wash over me, dealing with it is usually more tedious than frustrating. Sometimes a kid can really wind you up though, especially when they say something like 'I don't get it because you're a crap teacher' when they've not paid the slightest bit of attention to the lesson. Grrr.

DrCoconut Mon 08-Oct-12 10:34:48

I admit to getting wound up when people make jibes about part timers, holidays (at college we don't get the same as the students), gold plated pensions etc. As it happens I do work part time but that is because I am by choice on a fractional contract.

AnnaKissed Mon 08-Oct-12 17:10:54

I think the key thing in teaching is relationships. OP you were bound to get the worst behaviour if you were covering a class as a one off. Secondary schools teacher who have worked in the school a long time have mutual respect and good relationships with their pupils.

A class of moody, aggressive 15 year olds is a lot less intimidating if you have known them as eager 11 year olds in brand new blazers!

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