Is there too much negativity in teaching?
The answer is a resounding yes. Some teachers never stop moaning and its time they stopped wallowing in the negative zone. Didn’t you read the small print when you signed up? The holidays are there to compensate.
Ts and Cs Apply
If you don’t like doing the best job in the world then go and do something else. Why not try working in a supermarket or how about a factory making widgets?
“You’ll be able to clock off at 5 p.m. and forget about work. No prep, no marking, no parents’ evening and no panic attacks about class 4M. And, if you weigh up the pros and cons of the widget factory, we think on balance you’d hate it. It might be great for a day or a week – no pressure, freedom in the evenings; ability to take your holidays out of school term time – but for ten years? Or twenty, or thirty?!”
Wise words from Gary Toward, Chris Henley and Andy Cope, authors of The Art Of Being A Brilliant Teacher. For anyone who has worked outside of teaching, then you’ll know that there are hundreds of jobs that stink where there is plenty to moan about.
Ask someone who has worked in an office just how soul-destroying and mind-numbing it really is. No, teaching is the business and to whine about this and grumble about that demands, some real perspective regarding what other people have to put up with.
If you are an ‘actively disengaged’ mood-hoover, then you are one of the switched off and zoned out living dead with classroom entropy. As Toward, Henley and Cope say;
“In the teaching profession, they are the ones who shouldn’t be there. They exert a negative influence on staff and pupils, and they talk ill of the school and the teaching profession in the pub at night. Yikes! Thankfully, good schools root them out.”
I worked with someone once who was an addict. He’d share with everyone how many days there were until the end of the next half-term and say, “Only 17 more get ups to go”.
His tally-chart approach to teaching was to just survive and get through and this has to be one of the unhealthiest ways of thinking for any teacher. It is an existence, not living life.
Toward, Henley and Cope call this ‘destination addiction’, and it’s something ubiquitous in education, but very commonplace in other jobs where zombiefied armies live for the weekend and holidays.
“We call it stinking thinking … Too many teachers are innocently sleep-walking through life, hypnotised by the carrot of the future and infected with dullness.”
The authors go on to say that we can get stuck in this mentality and “blame the usual suspects: restructuring, budget cuts, syllabus changes, Ofsted, lazy colleagues, pension changes, management, marking, the government, planning, society, parents, ‘initiatives’, the kids.”
Why Oh Why?
A brilliant teacher is actively engaged and won’t say that they teach to ‘pay the bills’. If you are a teacher that says that then you have lost focus and lost sight of what teaching is. Toward, Henley and Cope tell it how it is;
The truth is, we’ve met too many teachers who haven’t got a strong enough sense of ‘why’. Some have merely forgotten, or have had it Ofstedded out of them, baseball-bat style. A few never had a decent ‘why’ in the first place, drifting into teaching because of the long holidays. Our advice is to get yourself a clear and compelling reason to get out of bed, and the ‘how’ and ‘what’ will look after themselves.”
Perhaps you need a reminder of the 156 Reasons to Teach to rediscover ‘the why’. These are just some of the reasons why we teach and in The Art of Being A Brilliant Teacher. The authors provide a number of tips for avoiding the zombie apocalypse by adopting better mental habits and practising upbeat and positive language until “it becomes your default setting.”
Battle weary and lack lustre attitudes are infectious so avoid these jaded teachers. Find yourself a 2%er and become a 2%er.
It’s good to moan but not excessively. It’s tiring, boring and unproductive. Losing your mojo is bound to happen, but sometimes you might just have to accept that a particular profession isn’t for you. Many teachers soon become ex-teachers because they realise they aren’t the right fit and go on to find their passion elsewhere.
To realise that teaching isn’t your true calling and then jump ship takes nerve, but it’s honest. You can’t be ‘in your element‘ when you are in a job that you have no love for and you’re clock-watching and waiting for the weekend. As Sir Ken Robinson says, “When we are in our Element, we feel we are doing what we are meant to be doing and being who we’re meant to be.”
Unfortunately, many teachers continue in a job that they are just not compatible with, but plod along with a destination addiction. If you have lost your mojo for teaching then it might just come back, but it could be the case that it was never there in the first place?