Think teaching is killing me slowly - and I haven't even completed my NQT year...

(7 Posts)
SlashandBurn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:33:47

Feeling done in by teaching. That's it really. I'm an NQT and although I feel I'm becoming a more effective teacher gradually, things to do with school organisation and management just depress me and I don't know if I'll ever get to used to it. I'm a latecomer to teaching from the private sector and I find the lack of voice in decision-making, even minor decisions, completely disempowering. Add to that an absence of positive feedback about what I'm doing, anything positive really, and I feel invisible. It's an odd feeling really, I wonder if it's mild depression but I think I'm hormonal too, which doesn't help.

I'm not an Ofsted 'good' teacher and tend to get very self-conscious and make nervous mistakes in lesson observations, but in spite of this, my class are doing well. It's a challenging school in many ways and I came in mid-year but most are making good or better than good progress. Sometimes I feel like I expect too much of them, even to me it feels like bootcamp some times but for the most part, they rise to the challenge. I really love my class.

Because I'm not Ofsted 'good', I feel my teacher assessment of performance is scrutinised more than it would be normally. How can my class be doing so well when I'm an NQT and not getting 'good' or better in my observations? Have I been too lenient or inflated grades? So I do formal levelled assessments and my class perform similarly. Then I'm told my teacher assessment skills aren't robust enough and I shouldn't rely on formal tests, etc. Or I don't move the children up to the level I think they're at, to play it conservatively, and then there's an inquest about lack of progress, and someone senior goes through all my assessments and puts the children up to the level I wanted to originally. It's an odd and dispiriting process at the end of every half term.

The school is RI and has been for a few inspections so the next one, due any moment, is key. Taking all the emotion out of things, I know this is why there is so much scrutiny, pressure and concern about things being just right. But as a human being, I don't know how it's possible to work long term in a career where for the most of the time, your managers aren't interested in you and what you're doing, and when they are, they're asking you to justify yourself and your results.

Apologies for the essay, I just needed to get my frustrations out to people who might know what I'm going on about. Is it just my school or are there schools where teachers get positive, developmental feedback? Where you have some kind of a voice? Is it that schools themselves don't have any real decision-making power and just have to do what Ofsted tell them to?

I would be so grateful for some feedback and advice.

ashesandfire Wed 11-Jun-14 14:29:40

I assume you are a primary teacher as you refer to 'your class'.
I teach in a sixth form college - I spent the first two years of my career in a secondary comprehensive and have been in my current workplace for 4 years. As we are an outstanding college we haven't been Ofsteded in forever (the powers that be are anticipating an inspection in the near future) In fact in my 6 years as a teacher I have never been through a full Ofsted!! (lucky me)

I think partly, your experience is related to your school. I would say that I do have a voice where I am, although that doesn't mean it will be listened to!
I don't know how it's possible to work long term in a career where for the most of the time, your managers aren't interested in you and what you're doing, and when they are, they're asking you to justify yourself and your results
This is so sad - certainly where I work I do get positive, developmental feedback as you say and I don't think that your negative experiences of extreme scrutiny and constant criticism are the norm.

You have said you really love your class, and I think that's what you need to keep in mind. There are issues of course that will apply to all schools. The lack of power, the constant paperwork, the political minefields etc are so depressing for all teachers but if you can remember why you're doing it, it will help. I suspect coming from the private sector these issues will be even more frustrating - I've only ever worked in education as an adult so have nothing to compare it to.

FWIW I found NQT by far the hardest year of my career so far, certainly harder than PGCE. Adjusting to a full teaching timetable, plus the paperwork, the responsibility, the constant observations - it nearly broke me TBH. But if you can ride it out it does get easier, and if you choose to progress up the career ladder you may find that you are in the position to implement change smile

SlashandBurn Wed 11-Jun-14 15:34:02

Thank you so much for your post! I had gone out for some fresh air and to stop moping.

Yes, I am a primary teacher. My school is an inner-city challenging one but I have been blessed with a great class. You are right that this is the thing to keep in mind, and I have done many times this year when I've wanted to throw the towel in and leave. It didn't seem fair for me to disrupt their education again with a second change of teacher in one school year.

I too think my private sector background makes things more difficult for me. I was previously a manager in my old role and the way teachers in my school are managed and given feedback is so very different from how I was trained to manage and do appraisals. Things are very different.

Just a few more weeks to go, I will get my head down and ride it out. My contract finishes at the end of this year, so there's an end in sight to this current situation. I'm really encouraged by hearing someone say that not all schools are like this; I'd pretty much thought I might return to the private sector and not look for another teaching post. I might feel differently by the end of the summer holiday.

Thank you for taking the time to reply. smile

NCFTTB Wed 11-Jun-14 19:13:44

I too thought from your first post that you're probably in the wrong school. Your next school may be different. I have a voice and a say at my school. Please also bear in mind that by this stage in the year, everyone is on their knees with exhaustion. Added to that reports and it's not a great mix! Please look after yourself and be kind to yourself.

Guilianna Wed 11-Jun-14 19:29:02

I am also a recently trained career changer in RI school, and I can identify with a lot of what you are saying. I was lucky enough to train (GTP) in a great school which enabled me to get my skills up to Good, but I have seen colleagues really suffer and I'm aware it's only luck that has kept the worst away from me. Like you, I find the lack of professional autonomy really irksome. My advice would be grit your teeth and finish your NQT year, then look for another school.

barmybunting Wed 11-Jun-14 19:46:45

It sounds like you are in a school that isn't the right match for you. Whether you want to stay in teaching is another question. Day to day, when left to actually teach, do you enjoy teaching? Do you want to continue?

I spent my NQT year and the following two years in a school I loved with a passion. Feedback was productive, supportive and helped me become a better teacher. I don't enjoy observations, but I never dreaded them their because I knew they were fair and I had a voice from day 1 in that school. I then moved schools in Jan this year as my husband and I moved area. I am teaching in an "outstanding" school, very different to my previous school in a run down area. I heard so many good things about the headteacher at this school. However, I absolutely hate it and I can't wait to leave in July. I feel like everything is constantly scrutinised, observed and negatively commented on. I am still getting "good" ratings for observations but I honestly don't know how because my teaching had suffered badly in the new school environment. I feel very unsupported and like I have no say in things at all. Had this been my first teaching job, I think I would have walked away (I also retrained and moved from the private sector.) but because I know how amazing teaching at the right school can be, I have learnt a valuable lesson about finding the right school for me and I am looking forward to finding that again and getting my passion for teaching back.

I think it is worth trying a different school. Perhaps try some supply to get a feel for other places? Think long and hard about your next school, because honestly, teaching can be the best job in the world in the right school but it can destroy you if it is the wrong place for you.

Good luck for the rest of term, you can do it! Take the summer to rest and think things through if you can.

SlashandBurn Wed 11-Jun-14 20:46:42

Thank you everyone for your posts. I had gone off to pull myself together and get on with some planning.

It is really reassuring to hear that other people have had similar experiences but have moved to other schools and things have turned around hugely. I don't have any teacher friends to talk to about this so it's easy to lose perspective. My NQT mentor (SLT) is very critical, not only of me but other staff too, so I've learned the hard way not to share any difficulties I'm having with her.

I've had a 'chin up mum' talk from my 7 year old DS tonight, bless him, so that and all the thoughtful and considerate advice everyone has given me has really picked me up. I do love actually teaching and seeing the progress the children make so that's what I'm going to focus on for the last few weeks. Thanks all, again.

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