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Can you be outstanding and still have a life?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by coolteacher98, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. coolteacher98

    coolteacher98 New commenter

    I am a primary school teacher. I am also a book-lover, an illustrator, a painter, a gardener, a questioner, a musician, a sportswoman, to name a few. Now, this is not intended to be boastful in any sense of the word. You may say I am not the best at any of these aspects of my life but I still take an interest in all of them.

    I chose to teach because I wasn’t sure which avenue of my interests I would like to focus on. Based on my personality, many people told me to try teaching because it encompasses many subjects.

    The sad reality: I believe that I am a good teacher. I believe that it is near enough impossible to be an ‘outstanding’ teacher without losing myself in a deep, dark vortex. There are days when I believe I have taught outstandingly. However, overall, I would say that I am trying to ease up on how seriously I take the job.

    I write this because last night I suddenly had the horrible realisation. I am 23, I have been a teacher for 2 years now, I have been in Year 1, Year 4 and will undertake English leadership next year. I love this responsibility and I enjoy changes as the classroom feels stagnant after too long. The problem is, I am losing my creativity, hobby by hobby. Day after day, I am losing myself. I am losing what makes me, me and succumbing to the outrageous norm of a teacher’s workload.

    If passionate people are losing their interests, how will this impact on the classroom? Will these people then be able to share real-life experiences with the children about the subjects they’re teaching?

    Starting this half term, I intend to regain my life back. I find it completely outrageous that such a young person, without a family, can lose their hobbies altogether. There will always be an excuse why the pressure is on. For example, Winter - new class, new routines, hit the ground running. Spring - data drops, pupil progress, observations and Summer - reports, end of year data, transition. Well, what I’m trying to say is, this is not good enough. These reasons should not increase workload above the workday hours as it is completely unacceptable to use excuse after excuse.

    Please let me know if this is something that you feel strongly about. What will you do to break away from the unrealistic expectations of a teacher’s lifestyle?
  2. AnotherDayTowardsRetirement

    AnotherDayTowardsRetirement Occasional commenter

    Honest, frank and self perceptive. Do not lose yourself in the job. Life is too short. Start planning your exit strategy now to get out of teaching at a time convenient to you. Stay true to yourself. Best wishes.
  3. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    Stop trying to be 'outstanding' or you will burn out. Do what you need to do but don't try and live up to impossible standards. Have a life and don't get so obsessed with all the nonsense that you stop listening to the actual children.

    It's easy for me to say this as I'm retired but it's true.
    sbkrobson likes this.
  4. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    How very, very sad that the job is knocking the stuffing out of you after only 2 years. Education needs bright, enthusiastic and dedicated young people like you to inspire our children, but the system is against you.

    I feel so sorry for you, because your best will never be enough.

    Have a back up plan and an exit route. And take up those hobbies, again!

    A lot of us on Personal are retired, so post this on New Teachers or similar, as well, where you'll find similar young teachers to talk to.
  5. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    As InkyP wrote, just do what you need and remember that 'outstanding' is decided by some anal jobsworth who will make their money and then disappear into the mist, to be replaced be another humourless, automaton with a whole different set of criteria so the previous standards are debunked. If you have the energy to have a life, enjoy!! :)
    InkyP and Mangleworzle like this.
  6. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    No, not for long.

    Other staff, those of a jealous type, love to start rumours about 'outstanding' teachers. Sometimes it is not much to worry about as it will be seen as sour grapes, but at other times people can say some really nasty things about you and it can have a negative affect on your life, your future, and your family.

    'Being outstanding' is fickle. If you mess up, those who put you on that pedestal may lose respect for you in a moment, particularly when Ofsted are about to call. You may not get the roles you want any more, and others can replace you. Don't make the mistake of believing your 'outstandingness' is the result of some unique quality only you possess: You are always replaceable.
  7. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    What outstanding is changes so often that it's meaningless anyway. We were shown a video of an 'outstanding' lesson from a couple of years ago in a staff meeting and it went again everything that we are currently expected to do. My advice is teach to the best of your ability, don't pay too much attention to what you're being told is the new thing, just teach the way you know works for you and sooner or later it'll come back into fashion, if it isn't already anyway.
  8. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    My hobbies went on hold for the 35 years I taught. I took early retirement so I could pursue those hobbies & Interests while still fit enough to do so.

    I wish I'd done so sooner.
    needabreak likes this.
  9. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Wow, I did not see that coming when I started reading your post.
    At your age I don't think the rot had set in with me yet.
    But at twice your age I fell apart at the seams.
    And now, some way beyond that still, I have it all-just a bit of teaching and a lot of hobbies.

    In hindsight, I wish I'd learnt sooner that the only thing that matters is that the children look forward to your lessons, and leave them feeling good about what they have done.

    I cannot patronise you because of your age-I really like your post. Your questions are sage, an old head on young shoulders. Keep asking them, you'll get your answers.
    Alice K likes this.
  10. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I always taught to live, I didn't live to teach. I never aspired to 'Outstanding' and I couldn't possibly commit my all to teaching - how dull and limited would that have made me? Teaching on its own was never good enough for me, so I did other things, like running a small part-time business for ten years. I found it interesting and absorbing, it earned me extra money, and it meant I didn't have to chase promotion for the sake of promotion. Family helps put things into perspective too - they need your time, and your own children should take precedence over other people's.

    I was never a 26 hour a day teacher and never wanted to be. I put enough time in to do a competent professional job of teaching my subject then I stopped. I didn't mindlessly volunteer for all the extra-curricular stuff or behave like school was the sum total of my existence. Oddly enough there were a couple of times in my career when accolades came my way for what had been achieved in my classroom, but I didn't crave them or wallow in them. I was promoted eventually too, but only for things I wanted to do.

    Don't ever sacrifice your creativity, because that's the true key to being an effective teacher. When I felt it was no longer required of me in the classroom I left the job and did something different instead. Don't succumb to the treadmill that some will seek to impose on you.
  11. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Who invariably is not outstanding themselves having taken a different turn to a higher salary with less stress.

    What is the advantage of being outstanding? As a teacher there is no reward at all, in other fields being outstanding brings additional rewards in some way, work twice as hard to get another 5%? I don't think so.
  12. Fer888

    Fer888 Occasional commenter

    No it isn't possible and to try to do both will only lead to burnout if not worse. After a serious bout of stress and depression I took the decision to remember that we work to live rather than live to work.
    grumpydogwoman and InkyP like this.
  13. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I worked in a school where all that was ever discussed was that we would become outstanding. We started practicing for OFSTED two years before it happened - we had mocksteds and the place became awful to work in.

    Many of the "outstanding" teachers left.
    magic surf bus likes this.
  14. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    Many Secondary teachers can and do have a life outside of school.
    In my experience, most Primary teachers don't (any more).
  15. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Self-management is massively important now that so many schools have lost control of workload and reality. Ask yourself this: do I want to be judged to be an outstanding teacher by the system of the day, or do I want to be healthy enough to do a good year round job of teaching the kids in front me?

    It's ridiculous to say, but the two have become mutually exclusive in many schools. Strong minded teachers set their own framework for success and work within it while making giving the bare minimum to unhelpful initiatives. Those who try to do everything asked of them by SLT on the outstanding trail tend to break. It's a bit carp, good luck.

    PS ... consider independent school before leaving teaching altogether, you sound like you might be a good fit.
    Mangleworzle likes this.
  16. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    'Outstanding' is a pejorative term used by ofstedolytes to describe a compliant teacher or group of teachers easily defined by others' criteria.

    If you mean you want to be, in your own opinion, the best teacher you can be and still have a life then yes, it is possible. You will have to accept that throwing your personal time on the bonfires of others' ambitions has to stop. Work towards to the goals of your pupils and yourself. Adopt self centred habits such as not checking work email between 5pm and 7.30am. And strange as it may sound, improve your touch typing speed. Improving the speed at which we do things we all have to do releases time to spend elsewhere.

    Most important, see 'outstanding' as a temporary criteria set by others. In 2019 they will publish a new framework. The criteria of outstanding is going to change. All those who work towards it will change everything they do to meet the new criteria. Out goes progress checks, in comes topic tests. Out goes tracking in comes curriculum design based around 'knowledge rich' topics. And in another five years? Or less if there is an election? It changes again.
  17. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I make my own decisions about what works best for the pupils in my classroom. Given that what is deemed outstanding turns on its head every few years it seems like the best policy.

    I am in secondary and have observed that pupils will make the most effort when they have a good relationship with their teacher. In order to be positive and responsive to my pupils it is better that I get enough sleep, or some exercise, rather than stay up until 2am marking in different colours.
  18. lexus300

    lexus300 Star commenter

    OfSTED criteria are politically motivated, cost driven rubbish (polite description).
    I can offer nothing better than the advice others on here have already given. Life is short, try and enjoy it.
  19. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    During my teaching career I don't think that I have seen any teachers that I would describe as outstanding, good yes, but not outstanding. I have seen a few outstanding lessons, but have seen the same teachers deliver poor ones. I have known teachers described as outstanding - none were, some not even good.
    Just aim to be a good teacher.
    InkyP and grumpydogwoman like this.
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yeah, there are some great lessons once in a while.

    There are some great performances of Hamlet once in a while.
    And then there's the rest of the time.

    I went to a Lady Antebellum concert recently. I had a wonderful time at one of their gigs a few years ago In Brum. It was one of the best nights of my life. This time though they played the NIA and it was poor. Too big a space and the sound quality was sh-ite. Are they an outstanding band? What a silly question! They gave me one of the best musical experiences of my life once.

    Was my beloved Latin teacher, Miss Pope, outstanding? To me she was. Gave me a lifelong love of Latin. But would the other 29 girls in my form say the same? Probably not!

    I question the very concept!
    border_walker, InkyP and Mangleworzle like this.

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