The Reality of Teaching

We have had an insane start to our year at school; it’s all happening. The last two days just the tip of the iceberg. If I were to write it all down people would think it was a feral place but it really isn’t, and that’s because there are adults in the school who work really really hard to ensure that kids still learn whilst the crazy happens. The adults hold off their own reactions and processing until the kids have gone home and then, sometimes, they fall in a heap.

I think for people that don’t teach, and who shake their heads saying they could never teach, they miss the reward in what we do.

We are shaping and changing lives every single moment while we are at work. And we do that beyond the scope of the classroom.

We remind the kids that they are worth our time because we take the time to really listen to them, and to really communicate with them. We know them and so they are safe to break down and cry and to be real. They know that some of us would do absolutely anything to make them safe, happy, and learned.

And we all sacrifice our own welfare and the welfare of each other to achieve this. I think that’s my epiphany upon waking this morning.

There were about six of us that yesterday and Thursday just had insanity almost every moment; unbelievable things were happening. I left work yesterday only being able to touch base with one of them. We go to our lives outside of the workplace and realistically, only the people within the workplace could understand our lives within the workplace.

Teachers are indeed a strange breed.

When they put the hours and more importantly, their souls into their work.

I became a teacher because I wanted to change the world. People laughed at my idealism and said that it wouldn’t last: make the most of it because after five years you won’t feel the same way. And I waited in fear for my idealism to change.

They were right. It did.

The longer I teach the more passionately idealistic I become.

And that’s why some days, some weeks, it is just too hard to want to continue. I just want the easy life …

The life that doesn’t require weekly massages. On Thursday I couldn’t walk or sit comfortably by the end of the day because cortisol had seemingly replaced my blood.

The life that doesn’t involve standing eye to eye with a kid almost adult as they debate whether they are going to hit me or not.

The life that doesn’t involve umpiring classroom disputes because kids these days are scared to openly admit that they just want to be loved and valued, and don’t believe they are.

The life that doesn’t involve missing lunch and adult time because a new student is feeling desperately alone and just needs someone to talk to, to let them know that they are seen, really seen, and that it will all be okay.

The life that doesn’t involve supporting students through traumatic times when you are not entirely convinced that they are telling you the truth. And you know that even if they listen, it won’t necessarily change their behaviours.

The life that doesn’t involve your own heart breaking every time you see a child’s pain. Enough said.

The life that doesn’t involve you taking photos of what another child has written on their neck whilst you reassure them that the other child was silly and they are valuable and do not deserve this treatment.

The life that doesn’t involve so many hours of follow up paperwork, phone calls home, and further interventions. Thankless work.

The life that doesn’t involve seeing all of the worst of our society, the results of adult inadequacy and poor choices, manifested in the damage in children.

One day I hope to have that easy life. To not be so passionate about my job that I take priority.

But I don’t think that will be today, tomorrow, or even this week. Probably not even this year.

Because I love my classes. I love being in my classroom and getting kids to look deeper into life, to see the world as it has been so that they can create their own lives in a better way. Happier way.

And I love the people who share my vision. In particular the people who I know had nutty days like I did Thursday and Friday, because we all had to work together. People that do share my philosophy and vision for the most part.

I dedicate this post to them. At least we weren’t alone in the insanity:

Malcolm, Lynda, Belinda.

Thank you.

14 thoughts on “The Reality of Teaching

  1. I wish more teachers were like you! I can count on one hand the teachers that had a huge impact on me. I’m curious about whether or not you’ve received training in terms of mental health issues and children – depression, anxiety, as well as the usual ADHD and “behavioural problems”. Do you think you and your colleagues can tell the difference between situational stress that can be remedied with a little extra care and attention and mental illnesses?

    I don’t necessarily “blame” my high school teachers or the Social Worker but I do harbour a little resentment because my behaviours “screamed” mental illness (I was deeply depressed and had extreme anxiety I would vomit before school every morning and there was a rumour going around that I was anorexic as I was very thin). I missed tons of school. Handed in half-completed work or didn’t hand in anything at all. That was 20 years ago. I hope a lot has changed.

    Sorry for the novel, but I’m curious about how you and your colleagues have been prepared for mental health issues. If you’d prefer to email me you’re welcome to do that or if you want others to be able to read your response.


    • I have received some mental health training as a teacher but minimal realistically. I did a double major in my undergrad – English and Psychology. And I had a dysfunctional childhood that has seen most of my adult years defeating demons. I feel I handle most stuff well but a lot of my colleagues not so much. Twenty years ago there was no mental health awareness in teacher training – I think it’s changing in Australia – slowly, but I agree with you that it is VITAL. Especially with a society so filled with disconnection. I believe that every behaviour issue suggests that the soul isn’t happy. I try to work from that foundation all of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

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