[This originally was a post on the StudentRoom forums]
Personally I have gone from wanting to teach PE in a Secondary School; to quitting QTS in my third year of my 4 year QTS teaching degree; to not wanting to not wanting to teach in a British Secondary ever again.
I will try and narrow it down to the top 10 reasons why I was turned off the profession. However I am sure I can list many more.
1 ~ Pupils who don’t want to learn and just misbehave – Yes there are a few who do want to learn and try, but from my experience a teacher is more of a policeman than a teacher.
2 ~ Too much box ticking – I understand the purpose of some of it but sometimes it just doesn’t work and in my opinion it is hindering than helping learning. For example in all lessons the teacher must display the learning objectives. That is fine for most subjects but it seemed fruitless when we as PE teachers have to take a whiteboard out on a field (especially when it rains). It involves effort and a risk analysis by itself. Besides most students either know them and don’t need to see them on the field or don’t care and won’t look at them anyway.
3 ~ Too much paperwork – As a trainee I calculated that for every hour I taught I did more one hour of paperwork. Once you had taken in planning, making & laminating resources, lesson evaluations, etc. My belief in paperwork is the same as getting to a place: If it takes you longer to travel there than the time you have there, then it isn’t worth the journey.
4 ~ Too much red tape – Not only are we limited to what we can do but also we have to remember to do so much more in fear of being sued. I thought my mentor was joking by getting me to tell my Year 7 pupils not to run into the wall… she wasn’t but with the sueing culture becoming more and more present in our schools it is also becoming more and more applicable.
5 ~ Pupils know the rules better than we do – They are badly behaved and know they can do what they like and even be violent as they know there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. My Mum worked as a TA in Yr6 and the number of times a child would not like a teacher and deliberately bump into them just to say; “You hit me! I am going to get you fired” was ridiculous. Not saying it always worked but the mentality was there.
6 ~ The ridiculous expectation on teachers – I know it has been said before but it is true. It seems now if a pupil fails an exam it is obviously the teacher’s fault even if the pupil has put in 0% effort and caused the teacher pain for a year. Also teachers are blamed by parents for their child’s behaviour, despite the fact the child came to the school like that in the first place and is even worse at home. On top of the fact that teachers apparently have 8 pairs of eyes as it is actually nearly impossible to watch 30+ kids all at the same time while answering a question at the other side of the classroom.
7 ~ The whole ‘you are the teacher, you deal with it’ approach – I know it is a tad repetitive of the point before but what I am referring to the lack of support some schools have. It is nearly like teachers are not allowed to ask for help. It seems the attittude regarding issues with behaviour management is; “Well you are the teacher you should be able to deal with it”.
8 ~ You have no time to think! – I don’t mean the teaching or even the paperwork (although that would be bad enough). On top of this you have meetings, INSETs, lunch duties, break time duties, clubs to run, detentions to give, marking, etc. For a PE teacher it is even more as some times matches and competitions are at the weekend. Some times there just isn’t enough time in the day. For a trainee it is even worse. I remember in my second year when my mentor gave me a lift home and as she dropped me off gave me a ridiculous list of things to do that evening and then finished with; “but make sure you rest and get some sleep”. I remember thinking; “well I am either going to get this all done or I will be able to sleep, but I don’t have time for both”.
9 ~ It is hard to keep up with the National Curriculum – I started my QTS degree in 2008, but the time I graduated in 2012 the National Curriculum had already changed. It seems so difficult to keep up with the changes and the changes in opinion about how to teach in general. Just look how many times the way that how addition has been taught in Primary School in just the last 20 years alone.
10 ~ The general work related things such as pay and holidays – I know teachers get long holidays but most teachers still work through a lot of that just to get ahead/ keep up. Plus it is useless if you want to go away or want to do something specific as you are given holiday you can’t chose your time off and you are restricted to the extortionate school holiday prices. This is on top of the low pay which most people have mentioned.
I am sorry this has been so long but I think most people who have ever stepped into a classroom can related to at least part of this.
I believe the issue is; we all go into teaching with this romantic and glossy-eyed image of teaching, where we can help and our students, who are egar to learn, while having the freedom to teach how we wish. While in reality the world of teaching is quite different.
Personally I feel since these experiences I have found the perfect teaching job for me. I now teach English abroad. I feel like a normal teacher with lesson plans, observations, and my lessons look just like any lesson in the UK. However, and I’m trying to rub it in, but… I have a maximum class size of 12. I have no other responsibilities and my students actually want to be there and want to learn.