So, what's it really like being a primary school teacher?

(28 Posts)
muriel76 Fri 10-Jun-11 13:54:55

I currently work with teenagers with special needs and really enjoy it but I do love working with younger children too.

I am thinking about applying to do a degree with a view to becoming a primary school teacher but I'm rather aware that my vision of the job comes from the hours I have spent helping in the classrooms at my sons' school! IE not very realistic at all!

I was hoping some teachers on here could share their experiences....what's the best bit of the job? The worst? Did you enjoy it as much as you thought you would? Is the paperwork as much of a nightmare as it seems to be?!

Thanks in advance for any replies.

spanieleyes Fri 10-Jun-11 16:01:37

Now is probably not the best time to ask primary teachers if they enjoy their job as it is report season and life is sheer murder! I have estimated I have 45,000 words to write before the end of the month ON TOP OF all the planning, assessment, paper work and marking that needs to be done ( and I set off at 5 oclock on Monday for a 4 day residential so won't see my own family until Thursday evening.) Oh and I'm working tomorrow as the school are involved in a local parade and the following Saturday when it is the village fair and we are performing there too! Anyone who says that teaching is family friendly needs their head examining! I leaver home at 7.15 ( for the 15 minute drive to work) and return about 5-except for friday's when I refuse to stay after 3.30!. I have 4 hours marking to do this weekend, some planning for next week-although thankfully not as much as usual as my cover teacher will do much of it, and observation notes to write up from an observation I carried out this morning, Oh and an action plan for a new teacher I am supporting. 2 meetings this week, went on until 5.30, plus a PTA meeting until 4,30 and an after school club on the other day finished at 4,15. Then tidy the classroom, try to mark the days books-have you any idea how much work 30 year 6's can produce in an hour! and sort everything out fdor the next day. Yes the holidays are great, although most teachers I know spend some of them working- but you can only take your holiday at the most expensive time of the year so generally can't afford it!

But I LOVE teaching and would never EVER want to do anything else!

barbie007 Fri 10-Jun-11 17:12:14

I taught in a primary school for 9 years and absolutely loved it. Hard work as you are talking all day and don't get a minute to yourself. Even going to the bathroom has to be timed to coincide with break or lunch! Lots of paper work too, which is a drag but has to be done. Schools are happy places so there was always a sense of optimism

But I have 3 kids of primary school age now and I can't see myself going back to it for a while. The days are long and exhausting and I simply want to put my dc first. I feel very lucky that we can afford to do that. But I will return as I can't see myself doing any other job

cat64 Fri 10-Jun-11 17:15:49

Message withdrawn

corsilk Fri 10-Jun-11 17:18:43

long working hours but the school day flies by
lots of marking
lovely long holidays
repetitive if staying in the same year group

Mum2be79 Fri 10-Jun-11 18:17:55

Hard work! Don't believe ANYONE who says we work the same hours as kids. I'd love to know who does the planning, resource making, marking, assessments, displays, meetings etc, etc past 3:30pm!
It's a decision NOT to be taken lightly. We may get 13 weeks 'holiday' a year but some of that time is spent catching up on assessments and planning and of course catching up with quality family time that you loose during term time because of all the hours spent after school and on weekends doing all the stuff that goes into making sure you have an effective lesson planned and resourced so kids make progress!! Phew!

emptyshell Fri 10-Jun-11 19:09:49

I never minded the workload - it was the behaviour of a few very damaged children and utter lack of support that did for me in the end - I ended up having a breakdown.

There are still schools out there where the kids are wonderful and even those being naughty are being naughty in a nice kind of way - but there are also some very very damaged kids out there, and often there's not the support in place so it's you, in the classroom having to fight it all day every day and trying desperately to help the child needing that help, protect the others in the class from their outbursts and violence and a steady stream of parents from both sides coming in to complain. If you've got a supportive head - that's bearable, if you haven't - it's hell on earth.

I do supply now - I get all the fun bits I love - being in front of the class, the lightbulb moments - without the damage it was doing to my health. I get to sleep at night - without having to lie there working out if Johnny kicks off in X part of the school where am I going to take the rest of the class to and who's the nearest person to send a runner to to ask for help... which is what was happening (and I was desperately trying to get external agencies in to help this child - but he "wasn't bad enough" to warrant anything at all).

Not meaning to be negative - it can be an utterly fantastic job - but go into it with your eyes open, read the most utterly OTT unreasonable posts on here and imagine having to deal with such requests, and make sure you're fully aware of the job situation in your local area before you commit to anything (because you can't even make a decent living on supply if you're not very lucky or well established these days - and you've got the time limit to pass induction if you go down the supply route.

On the other hand - I tried to quit teaching, took an office job and I was climbing the walls within a month. Teaching pulled me right back in - it's just "me" - but I don't think there's another job out there that can make you cry as much, and laugh as much (often on the same day)!

And yeah - you do end up with a body that will demand you pee at 10.25, 12.15 and 3.25 every single day!

muriel76 Fri 10-Jun-11 20:24:12

Thank you for all the replies! Really appreciate it and so many different points and issues.

Not wanting to single anyone out but Corsilk repetitive if staying in the same year group I would never, ever have thought of that - I guess cos I've never done it!

But thank you all, really interesting.

Just wanted to add I salute teachers and can see how hard they work. I actually support secondary school bods but I can see how many hours they put in, it is a full time job and then some. I am sure primary is the same (or worse!)

emeraldislander Fri 10-Jun-11 21:27:30

It was the expectation that teachers should somehow right the wrongs of all societal ills AND teach AND plan AND assess AND stay behind for meeting after meeting that tipped me over the edge. Left, and don't regret it. Miss the great kind though.

corsilk Fri 10-Jun-11 21:29:03

emptyshell speaks sense. It's great if you get a good head/deputy who will back you up with regard to behaviour etc but if not it can be very hard.
I get bored very easily muriel - I've moved about a lot in teaching due to that, so couldn't do the same year again and again. Lots of people do though and don't have a problem with it- I think I've got a short attention span!

CRS Sat 11-Jun-11 00:27:41

I love it. My (male) partner is coming to hate it. It's one of those things like Marmite!

Lara2 Sat 11-Jun-11 09:15:36

Been doing it for 24 years - I suppose that speaks for itself in lots of ways. I was nursery/early years trained and the majority of my time has been spent there, but also Y1 and Y2. Definately not something to be entered lightly - absolutely no telling children to go away and get on with it while you sit at a desk! ;) I get to work at 8am most days and rarely leave before 6pm. I do quite alot at home too - part of every holiday is spent either in school or doing stuff at home. As I work in a primary school I also get involved with KS2 things - we recently spent half term doing Rock Challenge - the run up was hectic too so it was goodbye holiday.

You will always be blamed for the ills of society and some days you feel that teaching just didn't happen that day because you spent it being a mum, nose wiper, wet knicker changer, mediator, counsellor etc. But some days that doesn't matter because someone has to be a voice and a champion for alot of children and often the buck stops with you because you know them best apart from their family.

Yes, there can be badly behaved and even quite disturbed and challenging children (and parents!!) but it goes with the territory. You have to have a thick skin sometimes, but often you are the only one who speaks for them - children and parents.

I can't ever imagine doing anything else - the biggest worry for teachers at the moment is what will happen to our pensions - and it does creep up on you! I think that the change from final salary to average salary will mean that alot of teachers who would have stayed in the classroom for their entire career will go for promotion out of the classroom very quickly so that their final pension is better. It'll have the problem that alot of advisors and senior management may not have the teaching experience that they have at present and they'll be alot of less experienced teachers in classrooms with the children. But.... that's another matter!

If you're gut says do it, then go for it and good luck!! There's NOTHING so entertaining, bizarre and rewarding as an infant classroom!! smile

corsilk Sat 11-Jun-11 09:51:43

Lara - explain the pension thing to me...confused

mrz Sat 11-Jun-11 12:31:40

I disagree about being repetitive in the same year group. Yes you have to teach the same skills and knowledge but you can be creative and teach it in different ways. I've never taught the same themes two years running because I would find it "boring" but many teachers do like to use the same planning year after year.
A comment passed in school last week "I know it's June because Y1 is doing Monet" hmm

emptyshell Sat 11-Jun-11 14:07:57

Takes a lot to have an understanding spouse who doesn't piss himself laughing when you go shopping and won't let him buy round pasta because it doesn't stick to paper as well for collages.

I go on supply and I can tell when it's February because it's Katie Morag season round here.

mrz Sat 11-Jun-11 14:11:49

My predecessor always did Katie Morag after Christmas too ...

emptyshell Sat 11-Jun-11 14:46:54

I got landed with a "how would we get to the Isle of Struay" (may not have spelt it right - I know!) supply lesson - the week after we'd got stranded in the Western Isles over the festive period because of cancelled flights out of Inverness airport.

I was able to tell them EXACTLY how long it was likely to take since we'd had to do the epic journey home via train/car/bus!

I'm still bearing a grudge against Ryanair 2 years later for that one btw!

corsilk Sat 11-Jun-11 15:14:45

There's only so far that creativity can go for me to avoid getting bored. If the science co-ordinator insists that your year group must do set topics every year for instance...yawn. But then it's horses for courses I suppose.
Most of the teachers at ds's school have always worked there and usually stay in the same year group. It makes me smile when ds2 brings home exactly the same homework topics that ds2 did a few years ago!

spanieleyes Sat 11-Jun-11 16:37:59

I would hate that! I've been teaching for 7 years and have taught every year group from Reception up to yr 6 ( apart from yr 4!). We run a very varied curriculum and haven't yet taught the same topic twice. Even when you do get to repeat something-and sometimes it's unavoidable-the children are always so different it is very illuminating!

gordongrumblebum Sat 11-Jun-11 17:47:56

Made a mistake a few years ago and, in the third week of term, used some planning for a collaborative activity that had gone brilliantly the previous year, with my new class of mad, bad and argumentative children. It was an observed lesson too. Makes me blush (and shudder) to think of it!

In our year group, we always use different topics each year, tweaking old planning to fit occasionally. I like learning about new things anyway. We're currently doing the Y2 SATs writing with nocturnal animals of the Arizona desert because we REALLY REALLY liked the look of kangaroo rats grin. In fact, I want one for a pet.

mrz Sat 11-Jun-11 18:03:40

I'd like a new SAT paper this year if we are still doing them (sick of 2007 or 2009)

muriel76 Mon 13-Jun-11 09:17:39

Thank you everyone for your replies - really interesting reading!

It certainly hasn't put me off anyway and I'm going to see a friend this week who is a yr 4 teacher for a chat about it.

Thanks again.

lilievans123 Sun 20-Sep-15 10:01:49

I'm a college student and all my life I haven't wanted to become a teacher, i don't really know much about teaching but when I have asked people the reply i get is 'there is so much work you never stop doing work, you have no free time' which instantly puts me off teaching. I was wandering if anybody could please help?

louisejxxx Sun 20-Sep-15 11:40:45

What is you want help with...you haven't really asked!

lilievans123 Sun 20-Sep-15 11:53:04

How much work you have to do, Outside of school hours? What your advice be to someone who wants to become a teacher?

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