Last week’s twitter #SLTChat on wellbeing seems to have resonated with many – especially this tweet by John Tomsett.
Stephen Tierney has written about it in his post Teaching and Leadership Costs. I think John’s point is an excellent one. We spend far too much time working for it not to be a part of our life and surely it should be a part we enjoy rather than try to separate out? These thoughts have been bubbling around my head all week, but yet I still found myself nodding along to these tweets from Mike Stuchbery.
It is certainly possible to treat it as such. I did so myself for many years. If you are competent at your job you can go in, do what you need to do as efficiently as possible and go home. You don’t have to volunteer to do anything extra, you can work to rule and practice saying no. It can be done. And yet…
To what end? Teaching is a fascinating and rewarding job. For many teachers it isn’t just a job. You can see that from the number of teachers whiling away their time on Twitter; passionately debating which methods of teaching have most value. You can see it at TeachMeets which always take place out of school hours, often at weekends, and always well attended. You can see it when a new exciting project is introduced in schools and there is a clamour to be involved. You can see it from the number of books being published on teaching and their enthusiastic reception.
In the corner of my classroom sits my CPD library. Some of them are borrowed from the school but most I have bought myself. Several are signed by the author and are now treasured possessions. I look forward to SLTchat on a Sunday evening and will spend time on a Saturday morning devouring and sharing blogs. I’ll write about education and talk about it at every opportunity. And yet…
I also find time to go running and walking. I love cooking and reading other books. I have the time to go to the cinema and up for a meal (even on a school night). I have a life outside of teaching as well. This may be where the confusion comes in. The Danes work the lowest number of hours in Europe and yet report seeing their work as important and fulfilling.
I don’t think that teaching is just a job. It is the word “just” I object to. If we see our work as somehow lesser than the rest of our life we are missing out. A job is something we do to get paid and I have no interest in prostituting myself out for 30 years. I demand something more. Our work should be fulfilling and engaging. It should be a passion not because that benefits anyone else but because it benefits us. If we are not enjoying teaching I would suggest that it is because, as Michael Tidd points out, accountability and measuring progress has taken over from teaching and learning. We are forced to focus on extrinsic motivation – the fear of failure – rather than the intrinsic pleasure of a job well done.