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could i have a realistic view of what primary teachings like please?

(39 Posts)
RoystonVaseySmegHead Sat 24-Oct-15 18:45:19

Hiya, not entirely sure where to post this but here goes grin I'm at college studying to be a primary school teacher (preferably KS1) and I was just wondering what its actually like? I'm on work placement in Y1 I think its great but it'd be nice to read proper teachers opinions on the job, like what are the difficult things about it and what's the 'afterschool' work like eg marking. I'm more interested to hear about the bad things to be honest so i can try prepare for them though smile Thanks

avocadosarentmiddleclassed Sat 24-Oct-15 20:03:13

If you have VERY good boundaries and an ability to not care what others think then you will be fine.
The boundaries come in handy for not letting the job take up every waking minute of your life and the ability to not care what other's think of you will help enormously when the government/ media/ SLT/ parents/ children try to convince you that you're not good enough.
I work in a school where the culture is very much about being good enough- even the head teacher encourages a good work life balance and we are an outstanding school.
Just don't let it consume you because if you get the above sussed it is the BEST job in the world.
P.S no matter what kind of day/week it is, the children light up every day.

RoystonVaseySmegHead Sat 24-Oct-15 20:33:56

thank you smile i could have cried last week because i saw one of the kids in 'my' class on the way home and she got really upset because she wouldn't see me for 3 weeks because of holidays and stuff grin

Livelifefortoday Sat 24-Oct-15 20:40:53

Hi Royston, do you mind if I ask how intensive your course is? I am considering a career change to become a ks1 teacher and have been looking into a part time pgce as I have 2 children under 5.


RoystonVaseySmegHead Sat 24-Oct-15 21:01:33

I'm not sure what you mean by intensive but I've got 2yrs of doing 1 week in college then one in placement (but we move setting every 3/4 months) then 2/3 years at university if that's what you meant? We have 2 exams at the end if the year and quite a lot of coursework smile

DullUserName Mon 26-Oct-15 11:40:02

There is a relentless focus on progress and being able to justify your actions to support every single child to achieve. Little Jamie can't read well, so what are YOU doing about it?
The new curriculum has increased tracking and reporting for many, depending on the system used by your school.
Marking and replanning in response is a huge task.
Parents are more demanding than ever that you cater for their darling's every need.
LiveLife... it is not a parent-friendly career. Your own chn come second to your class.

but the chn make you laugh... they make leaps that make it all worthwhile... that's why we do

BetweenTwoLungs Tue 27-Oct-15 15:01:14

Some days are fabulous. You plan great lessons that work, you do a science investigation in which the children are absolutely hooked, you spend the afternoon practicing for the Christmas play, the child who has been struggling for weeks with sometjing in maths glows with self pride when they've finally got it, the children make you laugh, and you think 'I can't believe I'm being paid to do this'.

Other days are quite frankly hell. You're observed for the millionth time, looking for errors, your books get pulled in for your marking to be scrutinised, the children are tired and fed up, a child is incredibly angry and shouts at you/speaks in an awful way, you are reminded once again of the countless deadlines and targets you HAVE to hit, despite the fact that some children just aren't going to get there, there's a fight at lunch time over the football, you get no marking done at lunch as a parent wants to speak to you, so you have 60 books to mark that night (after staff meeting of course) and you just think 'I am paid no where near enough for this'

And that is honestly the reality. Massive highs and low lows. And no, it's absolutely not child friendly because in that second example I give, those books need to be marked that night for the next day, so that's takijg time away from our own children.

Redlocks28 Fri 30-Oct-15 21:55:25

When I started, over fifteen years ago, I would have said it was a hectic job-loads going on, but I was never bored and wouldn't have wanted to work anywhere else.

Now-there is only one person left in my school who was there from my NQT year. The rest have been turfed out on capability, hounded out of the jobs they were good at or retired on ill health. Those left are, without exception cheap young things who seem to only last up to 3 years (many leave within the first year) and then vanish, burnt out and disillusioned.

The job always involved an amount of planning-but this seemed to change and now cannot be reused at all as the curriculum changes so ofte (for no good reason) and marking, but a lot of my time was spent sourcing fab resources and planning good lessons. Now, I think the planning has gone through the roof-every lesson needs every group of children catered for, for every part of it. How are you catering for each SEN child? Each PP child? Everything is evidenced and then has to be evaluated at the end. This takes such a long time-there's minimal time left to think of how to make it exciting.

The marking is no longer a tick, a comment and a smiley sticker. For every lesson, we have to provide a written learning objective (can be hand written by the children in their books, but you will be marked down on this in observations if it takes the children too long) usually typed out, then printed out and stuck in each books, along with the success criteria. We have to mark particular areas in pink when we see success criteria met and in green when it's not. Then targetted comments have to be written, questions for them to answer and next steps. You then have to find time for the children to respond to your marking and then possibly you respond again to that (triple marking). It's a bit like being pen pals with 30 children. This could be 30 books x 3 lessons each day, possibly more in KS2 (I teach in KS1). Even if it takes only 2-3 minutes per book, it's hours after school. My children can barely read what I write because they are 5. The best bit is when you do practical activities, which as you can imagine happen a lot with KS1 children. It is made very clear that unless SMT can see in their books what the children have done-how could SMT be sure that it actually had taken place!? So, this entails taking a photo of each child who is doing a practical activity, finding a printer that works with ink in it, printing the photos out, cutting them up, sticking them in children's books along with a learning objective and then marking it afterwards. Words fail me sometimes at the staggering lack of trust and waste of time, paper and ink.

Work then has to be levelled and you award levels for each child for each subject every half term. The SMT then pour over your data and force you to change it if they don't agree. I have had children's levels moved up by the deputy head (totally against my professional judgement) because SMT didn't think they'd made enough progress. This totally stuffed the next teacher who 'didn't make enough progress with them' and wasn't given a pay increment as they hadn't made enough progress with the children.

Then there are observations! These happen for various reasons-subject observations, peer observations, PMR, mock Ofsteds, NQT etc They are essentially stalking by SMT who appear to work under the premise that if teachers are not watched, they just stop moving. They come with the added joy of learning walks (stealth observations) and drop ins (suprise stealth observations). All can be used against you and if you are found wanting-they will be back within a week to observe you again, at a time of their choosing. Often 2.30 on a Friday afternoon or some such time when your class will be at their most abysmally behaved. Book scrutinites are used similarly. Sadly, whilst I have heard some teachers benefit from observations, I can honestly say they have never improved my teaching-they are a box ticking, hoop jumping exercise as far as I can make out.

The other thing that I find hard is the constant introduction of new initiatives (usually with baffling acronyms) which have to be implemented immediately (with no training) and then are slowly dropped when people realise they are crap and pointless. Nothing is every dropped, however, to make room for such new ideas in the curriculum. Such things I can think of include thinking hats, circle time, T4W, Big Maths, 5 part lessons, 3 part lessons, 7 part lessons, APP, AFL, MFL, think/pair/share, brain gym, P4C, R Time, Mantle of the Expert, APP, VCOP, VAK etc etc etc

News articles like this, just make me weep.




Then there are adverts from the DFE suggesting it's easy to earn £65k.


It just is not the job I trained to do sad

calzone Sat 31-Oct-15 10:16:52

It's a bit like this......

rollonthesummer Sat 31-Oct-15 11:19:29

I sometimes feel like the job is so bloody all-encompassing that I only really exist at weekends and holidays! Dh and his mates appears to be able to go out on a 'school night' (they are professionals but not teachers) but I just can't as then I'm really behind in my marking!!

I wish I'd been an accountant or done dentistry and I would actively discourage young family members from entering teaching now.

Buttercup27 Sat 31-Oct-15 11:30:59

Redlocks has it pretty much spot on but hasn't added all of the extras you have to do on top of that everyday work load e.g. report writing/parents evening/after school club/staff meetings/all the stuff the pta need you to do/summer fairs/christmas fairs etc/out of school performances school discos etc.
All need doing on top of everything else without extra time.

Redlocks28 Sat 31-Oct-15 20:43:33

Yes-how could I forget about those bits!?

Report writing is generally a total waste of time; it takes hours and all parents actually want to know if are they below/at/above in the core subjects and to read a personal comment.

School trips are something else that I rather used to enjoy but they have now become a logistical and paperwork-heavy stress I could do without. The last one ended with me being shouted at by one hysterical mother for making the children (well, specifically, her child) wear coats (in October) because it was apparently 'a bit hot' for her to wear a coat and I should have either carried it for her or known in advance it was going to be 'a bit hot' and left all the coats at school....

Displays--I used to enjoy doing until our LEA employed some stupid man to come round half-termly to judge whether or not our displays are good enough!! What a good job that must be!?

Photocopying, sharpening pencils and filing- which our head has decided that TAs are too important to do- still actually do need to be done, so are done instead by me at 7am or 6pm when I've finished all the other things that have to be done.

Dealing with lost jumpers/lunchboxes/PE kits and Moshi Monsters that shouldn't have been in school take up a surprising amount of time as well, but is at least more interesting than data analysis!

Oh, I'm sure I could go on!

AmberFool Sun 01-Nov-15 16:44:26

redlocks28 your post was really depressing but completely spot on and that makes it even more depressing. sad I've had to change tack and become a TA. Pay is crap but there is so much joy in the job itself and the fact that I don't have to deal with everything you have highlighted. I'm in awe of teachers who still manage to carry on in their profession.

SarfEast1cated Mon 02-Nov-15 22:02:49

Crikey Redlocks what a brilliant (yet tragic) post. I am in the process of filling out my application for a PGCE, and you're making me doubt my decision.
Thanks teachers though, for doing what you do for our children, we really appreciate it flowers

Seryph Tue 03-Nov-15 12:28:56

And here's me having just submitted my PGCE applications!

rollonthesummer Tue 03-Nov-15 13:02:56

Noooo-SarfEast1cated and Seryph---don't do it!!

Are you applying for primary or secondary?

Seryph Tue 03-Nov-15 14:02:36

Primary. I already work as a nanny, love kids, love helping them learn things. I have plenty of friends who teach secondary and honestly they seem to have a very easy life compared to what I read about teaching primary but I just don't think I could do their job.

I have wanted to teach for seven years.

rollonthesummer Tue 03-Nov-15 15:02:59

Ah, good luck with it smile

Seryph Tue 03-Nov-15 15:39:32

Thanks! I'll admit it's pretty nerve racking reading how bad it is for some teachers.

amysmummy12345 Tue 03-Nov-15 16:05:35

What redlocks said

calzone Tue 03-Nov-15 18:09:39

Whispers ((don't do it.......))

ticolac Tue 03-Nov-15 18:12:25

Absolutely what Redlocks said.

SarfEast1cated Tue 03-Nov-15 18:24:05

Rollon I want to work with Primary children (as long as I can rally my old grey matter to pass the numeracy test!)!

Fannyupcrutch Tue 03-Nov-15 18:37:14

My sister is doing her ITT in primary at the moment. We are both qualified as TAs and it seemed a natural progression to her. She says that she is astounded at the way she is being taught to teach. She must start her hand writing on the line and it must be perfect every time. It seems that they are more concerned with mass producing teachers that can tick boxes than they are interested in nurturing a dynamic teacher that can actually engage and teach. She is not allowed to take books home to mark, apparently that is not going to be allowed from next year. All marking must be done at school and be returned to students the following day. She has spent most of the half term planning lessons and to be honest I am worried about her work load. It seems the hoops she has to jump through are overwhelming and exhausting.

rollonthesummer Tue 03-Nov-15 18:50:41

She is not allowed to take books home to mark, apparently that is not going to be allowed from next year.

What! Says who!?

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