June 6, 2011

This is bloody hard

Yes, I know I keep complaining about how difficult it is to teach students.  But really, it’s bloody tough. 



*This picture is kind of a joke.


Why?  Because I’ve only had 8 weeks training, work at one of the toughest schools in the state, with kids who have low-literacy, don’t care about their education, and I receive little mentoring support.  The school administration doesn’t work particularly well and I hardly know anyone in this town.  I am sick right now and here’s an infinite amount of work to do.  Plus uni assignments that I want to do well at but don’t have time to. 


I feel like a terrible teacher because I can’t control my class properly, am not sure what I teach the kids half the time, and am failing my students who do want to learn and who love learning.  Of course, I have to give myself inner pep-talks because there’s no one else to tell me either, so I say, “Don’t worry.  You’re working like crazy.  You show up every day, and that is a huge deal.  You are trying, testing new things, constantly learning and reflecting.  You want to be a good teacher.  A great teacher.  Stop being so critical.”


There’s two schools of advice from people. 

  1. Quit now, there’s an easier way:  It really doesn’t have to be like this.  I could go back to university, do my teaching rounds the proper way.  Go to a better school which runs better.  When you’re working at a job employing all your coping mechanisms, having breakdowns and being impossibly stressed out, that’s not a way to live.  
  2. First year of teaching is just the way it is, so suck it up princess.  If you can teach here, you can teach anywhere and it’ll only get easier.  Most beginning teachers do it tough so just carry on.

Right now, I am employing the “don’t question, just do” technique.  I just keep plugging away, banging my head against that brick wall and slowly the veneer is chipping away.  It’s exhausting.  Sometimes, I wish I was back at my law firm working on intellectually challenging billion-dollar deals in power suits. 


But really, it wasn’t that glamorous and I know that if given the choice, I wouldn’t want to go back.  It’s the idea of a job where I can go and have a coffee whenever I want, in a city with my friends that’s appealing.  I feel sad today. 


I gave my year 10’s a survey about their strengths.  It was so great to read about some of their strengths, and hopefully it helped build their confidence up too.  I’m going to talk more about it in the next class.  I want to see them succeed.  I have so much hope that they’ll do well and I’m excited to teach them next year too.


A mess of contradictions!  That’s my teaching career so far.


  1. Discovered this blog after reading the article in The Australian and have been reading through all your archives. Loving it. I am a teacher (first year out of Uni) and it's so great to hear an honest account of your experiences. It's impressive to see how much effort and sacrifice you put in to teach these kids. They will understand it someday. Thanks for being so honest, I am loving reading your posts.

  2. Hi there, I just read this. Thanks so much for your comment.

    I'm so glad that you've enjoyed reading my posts - teaching isn't all roses, but we teach because we care and feel strongly about education. And honesty is important to me to live an authentic and meaningful life. Hope your teaching is going well!


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