What It’s Really Like Teaching
And Why SEN Schools Are Amazing
A lot of us are teachers at heart. Whether it be teaching our friends how to use the latest apps, teaching our family how cook, or teaching the future generation how to survive in an increasingly difficult society.
We all have a part of us that loves to teach. It's a way of showing others that we know things and telling stories about the cool things we've learned along our journey.
I started out my teaching career in a mainstream science classroom. All is not always as you would expect when you first apply to train as a teacher. You expect big hurrahs as students enter your classroom, but what you'll find is you can't always win them all. You can try. And with some you may succeed. But do not beat yourself up.
I spent a lot of my training year in tears and wondering why anybody would subject themself to this lifestyle. A lifestyle where your friends think you finish early and get the holidays off to relax and where your family think you sit colouring all day with perfect little angels. Neither is true.
Teachers work pretty damn hard. We work so hard because we care... and even if they are at the point of breaking and not caring, they are still working hard.
Teachers at the point of breaking are some of those who have fought the longest and cared the hardest, to be constantly beaten up with changes in the curriculum, constant new guidelines, marking into the late hours of the night and some early hours of the morning, and spending most nights preparing lessons for the rest of the week.
Amongst all of this negativity, you start to find your "little wins" each day and start to notice that child who perhaps didn't like you at the start, is now taking an interest in your subject and shares excitement with you when they understand the topic or find a book relevant to your current topic.
Fast forward to the year after my NQT year. I've qualified fully and now a RQT (recently qualified teacher) and whilst still feeling the naivety of being relatively new, you also have the feeling of being in the education sector for a long time. Mainly due to the fact you live and breathe teaching and even when out seem to find the closest teacher around and talk about teaching (seriously out of a whole bar, recently, I was hit on by another teacher and we spent time discussing our subjects). You find yourself engrossed and obsessed discussing differentiation and book scrutinies, whilst at the same time falling asleep to nightmares of standing in front of a class that you've failed to have prepared a lesson for!
It has got to be one of the most intriguing career choices one can make. Especially when I chose to go supply and took on a job at a special educational needs school. It started as a short term thing and has spanned over most of the academic year now and has left me with a sad feeling inside that at some point this role will come to an end.
Working in SEN has to be one of the most rewarding jobs, as you can see progress in a different light to mainstream. The progress here is not all about levels of progress, tests and Progress 8 scores. It is about seeing the boy with Downs syndrome open up to you, it's about seeing the student with ADHD tell you how great their week has been and they have been working on concentration, it is about the student who seeks you out in crisis as they trust you can calm the situation, the non-verbal student beginning to use words and it is about the student who would storm out of the class and not control their arms and legs on the way out... now focussing in class and telling you that you are their favourite teacher.
Yes, teaching is incredibly hard. If you are in this field or looking to join this field, there WILL most likely be days you will doubt yourself, days that you want to give up and become something so far out of teaching and days you will feel low and cry.
But please know, that these days don't last forever and there will be amazing days to counter the bad.
To stand at the front of the classroom and see that you can make not only academic progress, but can help to create a well rounded member of society
... makes the whole thing worthwhile.