read a thing on the TES just now about teacher retention, and it made think quite a lot. I’ve been in teaching in various guises and roles for 15 years, some of which have been in mainstream, some in management, private schools and I’ve seen a lot. I’ve been very, very lucky with my most recent school and it is an amazing place to work.
The caveat with this one is that I have just handed in my notice- not because I hate my job. Au contraire: I LOVE my job but I just needed to redistribute my workload and split myself in a few fewer directions. So I decided that school needed to stop for now. That’s not to say I’ll never go back in the classroom, but for now, that door has closed gently behind me. I’ve got other things in the pipeline that are just different and moving me in that direction for now.
The article and a lot of work seems to talk about money as a thing that keeps people in teaching and CPD. It just doesn’t settle well that. I’ve not researched it any further than by chatting in the back of our school stationary cupboards, standing around the staffroom coffeepot and freezing on our many break and lunch duties over the years. But money or CPD have never been particularly high up the lists of ‘stuff’ that teachers or staff need to stop them quitting.
For me, when I’ve been in those wobbly moments, and for others I’ve spoken to it’s always been time and resources. The workloads are totally unsustainable. The lack of physical bodies in school to support children who are in crisis is deplorable; not schools’ faults but rather untenable systems. So teachers and everyone else in school is constantly fire-fighting, running from crisis to crisis, supporting kids who are quite often in a messy way, and somehow trying to teach classes consistently and calmly, whilst staying on top of their workload, data monitoring and home-school communications.
It is just not doable with classes of 30, where sometimes 4 or 5 students have complex profiles, and teaching assistants are scarce, and extra funding is even scarcer.
A few weeks back, I had a chat with a colleague about pay and conditions in teaching. We neither were desperate for more money ourselves, but we were desperate for more teachers, so smaller classes and more TAs so that complex needs can be supported in class.
It’s a pipe-dream but it feels like it shouldn’t be that complex.
And yet it is.
I will miss the classroom with my soul, but I will not miss the stress and anguish when my kids are in crisis- it hurts my heart that I can’t support them well enough.
Hopefully I can do more and different levels in different ways over the coming months and years, so that stuff is better if/when I do go back into the classroom.