I have three days left before I ‘hang up my chalk’ for the final time. Having been a teacher for 15 years, I finally decided that enough was enough. I remember clearly my first ever day with my very own class at Allington Primary School. I will never forget those 30 children looking at me, waiting expectantly. The sense of responsibility was overwhelming. However, I loved it too. I loved that those children went home every day knowing a little more than they did when they came in. I loved that I could say some kind words if they were upset and I was the one to help make them smile again. The pure joy from those elements of the job has never left me. I found my real love - teaching Maths, despite having an almost-phobia of it at school myself. It has been so satisfying seeing children develop a love for it too. I feel incredibly proud that my teaching of that subject in particular has helped so many. There are many and varied reasons for leaving the profession. The pressure to meet/exceed expectations for data are ludicrous. How can you expect a child to achieve ridiculous targets when their parents are separating; they’ve seen their dad hit their mum repeatedly; their mum can’t get out of bed because she’s hungover; or they’re caring for their younger siblings? Aside from these external issues, I don’t believe the majority of children can actually learn in the classroom environment; sitting in chairs for hours every day, listening to someone try to convince them that it really does matter if they know the difference between a main clause and a subordinate clause. Think about how tiring training courses are, having to focus and listen for hours on end. And we’re adults! The lack of money in schools is a massive concern. I wonder how much of my own money I’ve actually spent over the years on pencils, pens and books for the reading areas! I also dread to think how many weeks of my life I have wasted marking books until midnight to satisfy SLT, OFSTED and parents…research shows minimal benefit to pupils actually. Unfortunately, many parents also have unrealistic expectations of the children’s teacher. They do not appreciate that children cannot receive personalised, 1:1 tuition. They forget about the other 29 individuals in the class. Waking up at 3am worrying about other people’s children has been a regular occurrence. Sundays spent planning, marking, filling in ******** paperwork, writing reports have also impacted on my family life. I always wanted to be a teacher. It was my childhood dream. I am proud to have achieved that. I really am. I feel like this year has almost been a bereavement for me; coming to terms with an imminent loss has been difficult. That feeling of a loss of identity has been incredible. When people ask me who I am, I’ve always said, ‘A teacher’. That part of me will finally be gone. I will need to rebuild my identity in some way. What will I miss? I will miss the kids. Most definitely. I have never wanted to leave because of anything they’ve done. I will miss their random answers; their need to tell you every detail of their lives; their spontaneous hugs and smiles; the way they can tell who jumpers belong to by smelling them! I will miss them so much. So to all parents, be kind to your child’s teacher. They’ve given so much for your child, often at the expense of their own family. Don’t believe the ridiculous nonsense about us finishing at 3.30 and having ‘all those holidays’. It really is, quite frankly, ********. To the teachers who are left, you really are worth so much more than you get paid. As a parent, I appreciate everything you do. To the children I have taught, I hope something I have said, done or shown you has made a difference to you.