So, an article popped up on my FB feed tonight about a woman who quit teaching after 30 years….for a variety of reasons, but number one….was burnout. And there was one line in this article that really grabbed me. Shocked me. Made me feel desperate…..that I had to do something.
‘A report out this week found that up to half of all Australian teachers are leaving the profession in the first five years’
Woah. Five years….We’re not even lasting five years!
Now, I can’t change the system. I’m not a politician, a policy implementer or a curriculum maker. But I am a writer (of sorts) and I can do this…..I can write a letter to the first year out graduate teachers. Those of you who are have just started, who still have that fire, that passion and that eagerness to just get into your own classroom and make a difference.
So here it is.
It’s half way through the first year and I know that it’s been tough. The teaching job that you thought that you signed up for, has actually become your lifestyle. It’s always there in the back of your mind, isn’t it?! When you are blow drying your hair in the morning. When you are cooking dinner. When you are putting the kids to bed. No matter what you are doing, your classroom full of kids and what you are going to do for them tomorrow….it’s all lingering in the back of your thoughts.
And once those kids are in bed, the time that you thought you would have with your husband…..is now planning, programming, reporting time. It’s when you do the work that you can’t fit into your normal 9-5 day because you have a room full of kidlets who need your attention ALL DAY. Who need you to be switched on and focused from the moment you walk through the school gates, until you leave after yet another staff meeting.
You’ve been told to differentiate your teaching for the kids in your class….who have a reading age range from about 4 years old to the kid who is 8, and could cope quite nicely in Year 7 English. You want to do your best for all 30 of them, but the range is so big and you feel like you are not quite hitting the mark.
Well, I’m here to ask you to hang in there. Please….because your colleagues, our schools and our amazing students need you.
Teaching isn’t easy. In fact, it’s ridiculously hard….and takes over your life.
But it’s worth it.
When that child, with the reading age of 4, uses a taught reading strategy for the first time…..it’s worth it.
When that child that you taught in your first year of teaching, who you weren’t actually sure would even finish High School, comes up to you in the supermarket to tell you that they are about the move to Newcastle to go to Uni….it’s worth it.
When that one parent writes you a note in their child’s reading diary to thank you for the work that you are putting in with their child….it’s worth it.
When you are about to collapse in a heap because you are trying so hard to balance life, family and school…..and then get one of those gorgeous handwritten, 6 year old spelt notes telling you that you are loved…..it’s worth it.
When some smartarse makes a comment about teachers working 9-3 and your husband gives you that knowing look because he knows that you were up until 11pm last night, programming an amazing English unit to build your students’ love of reading and literature…..and then that unit actually works and your students’ do actually end up loving reading and literature…..it’s worth it.
No one said that this was going to be easy. It’s going to be hard. But you know what….lots of jobs are.
But it’s going to be worth it. There will be days when you don’t feel like it is. But there will be more that make you realise that it is.
So please, hang in there. You can either get caught up in what makes it hard, what makes it unfair or what makes it so damn difficult…..or you can collaborate with your colleagues, use your mentor, vent to your friends and then focus on the things that make it worth it.
But most of all, you can look at those little faces that are so excited to see you each morning. Smile into their adoring eyes and realise that they are why you are doing this.