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Why I've decided to leave teaching...(it's long, sorry)

Discussion in 'Professional development' started by BermondseyBoy, Nov 28, 2009.

  1. I’ve read the various message boards on TES avidly, ever
    since discovering them at about November time last year, especially this one.

    At the time I was an NQT, teaching in a Special Measures
    school and wondering what the hell I had done with my life. Moreover, I say ‘teaching’,
    more like preventing outbursts of violence and criminal damage. I felt doubly
    depressed as I was lied to from the very beginning. I turned up at a very
    modern looking school, with all the mod cons, computer ‘labs’, artificial
    sports pitch, two full size gyms and was interviewed for a job as a Citizenship

    This was possibly my first mistake, as I had a History
    degree and had done a History PGCE 7-14, which thinking about it, THAT was my
    actually my FIRST mistake; the 7-14 PGCE that is. Anyway, I’ve digressed. There
    were no History jobs going within 50 miles of my house; so I reasoned I could
    take the Citizenship, because what the hell, I liked politics, social issues
    etc and a job is a job (another mistake..I’m losing count now!).

    Anyways, so I do well in the interview & at teaching a
    class and get offered the job. Although knowing what I know now, I was probably
    only one of a very few people who went for it. I turn up for my induction, two
    weeks at the end of the summer –term; I start to notice the school is a bit
    chaotic to say the least. But hey, that’s my fault, I researched it and knew it
    had problems anyway and I still took it. But the real bombshell was when I was
    handed my time table; I wasn’t teaching just Citizenship, but Mathematics,
    English, Geography, Learning to Learn and R.E. too. These were all for SEN
    classes, for which there was no scheme of work or even a proper Department to liaise
    with. I brought this up, but was fobbed off with ‘you’ll be fine and we thought
    because of your experience in Primary School (one placement for my PGCE) you’d
    enjoy it’. I was a bit miffed, but I thought I’ll give it my best shot,
    especially when the SENCO promised to simply give me the schemes of work, which
    she was to write over the summer. I went off on my summer holidays, not without
    a sense of some dread for my return to school.

    I did try my best, but it was extremely difficult. I went to
    see the Deputy Head and told her straight that 1) I was struggling to cope with
    the workload, 2) I believed these pupils deserved an experienced teacher, due
    to their special educational needs, and 3) I had made it very clear in my
    interview that I had chosen to teach at Secondary School because I wanted to
    concentrate on giving my all to one subject. She offered me a chance to switch
    to ‘just’ three subjects, main stream Key Stage Three Citizenship, P.E., as
    well as SEN Maths. That was her ‘final’ offer. I took it. It was better than what I had been doing.

    Yet the pupils were still out of control, all over the
    school. In fact I was coping a lot better than every other NQT. It wasn’t
    uncommon for the staff room to be filled with at least two teachers in tears
    every single day. I saw a pupil attack another with a metal pole & only get
    2 days suspension, another throw a chair out of the first floor window and on
    to a teacher’s car, they weren’t excluded, teachers having to be taken off
    stair duty because they were being spat on and having stuff chucked on them
    from above, the PCSO pelted with rocks, oh, and for a little humour, a pupil
    puked up all over the Deputy Head’s desk, after getting drunk on a half bottle
    of Vodka..this was after going on a rampage through the school.

    Thankfully (sic) my mate, whom I was house sharing with, was
    repossessed, thus forcing me to hand my notice in and move county, to where my
    girlfriend was living. This I had always planned to do at the end of my NQT, as
    she had a secure Primary School job, and they are non-existent in my area, so
    it made sense to move to her. Hence why I was not put off from taking the
    Citizenship job at a Special Measures school (this is a lesson to all), as it
    was short term. So, I moved at Easter and was lucky enough to get a long term
    supply at a nice enough Comprehensive, teaching History (yay) and a bit of
    Geography (not so bad). I finished my NQT here and the staff were great and the
    kids were better behaved.

    But, I really decided to take stock. The new school offered
    me a job, but I turned it down. Madness aye. But I am so glad I did. I hated my
    PGCE; the schools I worked in were populated by disorganised, de-motivated and
    depressed teachers. It is only now that I know why there were like that. My NQT
    year had seen the same, stressed out teachers struggling to cope with the kids’
    behaviour and the immense workload. Even at the relatively nice Comp there were
    issues. The kids were ok behaved, but they were also arrogant, obnoxious and
    quite lazy and felt the World owed them a living; quite a culture shock to
    someone like me, who had grown up on a rough housing estate and who had to
    fight for everything I achieved. In fact it made me miss the kids at my previous
    school; at least they weren’t obnoxious, just ill-disciplined.

    I know I’ve rambled on and on, but I am coming to a point.
    So thank you if you’ve got this far. After just two years in teaching I
    concluded that some schools are full of de-motivated, depressed teachers, who’ve
    been crushed by government bureaucracy and kids that have been so poorly
    brought up that they think spitting on adults is acceptable; so you can imagine
    little Jordan’s, Callum’s, Sharon’s and Stacey’s attitude to actual learning; or schools with staff that are still having to
    jump through so many hoops they hardly have a life, and whose reward for achieving
    good results is not a pay rise or bonus (like in the business world) but the
    application of more pressure to squeeze even more from the kids and tick even
    more pointless boxes. Furthermore, the schools where the kids don’t spit on
    teachers or throw chairs through windows are instead populated by a high
    percentage of obnoxious brats, who have never heard the word no, nor understand
    the concept of hard work, or of being gracious. They simply see it as their god
    given right to waltz through school, treat teachers with contempt, on their way
    to following their mummies and daddies into the rat race and inflicting this
    country with the next generation of spoilt brats called Joshua, Zak, Liberty
    and Phoebe.

    I am now currently working as a Cover Supervisor (Scab, I
    know)...whilst I retrain as a plumber. I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m still
    relatively young at 29, and my family run their own construction firm, where I
    can get my NVQs signed off. And that was my ultimate mistake. I thought the
    grass was always greener. That because I was quite bright that I should be
    doing something ‘worthwhile’. Ha. That seems a sick joke now.

    If you think you want to teach because you’re bright and it
    will ‘make a difference’, well consider it really hard. I hope you are lucky
    enough to be one of those tough & dedicated individuals who fully gets that
    teaching is a vocation, not a job or even a career. You have to live and
    breathe it. And be able to blank out of the petty politics, somehow cope with
    the mountains of paperwork and box ticking, and have the patience of a saint to
    deal with kids with real problems and realise you’ll only make an impact; not
    any real difference. And be happy that you’ve given up most of your days,
    weeks, weekends and years to achieve that impact.

    If you’re not; well, remember that so what if you’re
    bright...the real difference you could be making is with your own family and
    friends..or by giving up a few hours to a charity. Don’t think teaching is the
    way to have a ‘worthwhile’ job...you’d
    be better off building or fixing things, now that is a worthwhile use of your
    time at least. And you won’t have to give up your whole life to do it, or jump
    through boxes.

    I recently bought a new suit, and the fitter was an
    ex-teacher. She said she wouldn’t go back for a £1,000 a week or 15 weeks
    holiday. She explained that yeah, the job itself weren’t that fulfilling, but
    the staff were nice & always laughing, the manager was fairly relaxed, and
    she got her evenings and weekends back to spend with friends & family and
    having fun. Now; what does it tell you about a job that offers stability, a
    relatively good wage, a secure pension and this magical 13 weeks holiday (that
    non-teachers are obsessed with) that a high percentage of people leave and this
    lady would rather work in Suits For You!!?!

    Rant Over.
  2. I've just discovered this forum and everything rings true for me as well, especially the post by bermondseyboy. Reading it made me feel simultaneously reassured and depressed; reassured as it is clear that it is not just me who has been experiencing all these terrible things; depressed as it is a shocking indictment on the education system in this country. I too went into teaching 'to make a difference' and made what was to prove the biggest mistake of my life.
    Like most teachers new to the profession, I was initially filled with enthusiasm and excitement as I started my training. It took less than a month to be disabused of this notion. The kids were insolent, rude and disinterested. I was told that it was my fault that the kids were reacting in this way because me lessons were not 'engaging' enough or I wasn't displaying the appropriate behaviour management technqiues. The paperwork I had to complete was also horrendous; so voluminous and pointless that I was often up to eleven o clock at night finishing things off. The staff as a whole (although there were some exceptions) were rude and unsupportive. When I moved to the second school in my placement these problems continued. I put it down to the fact that I was still training and that things would improve if I ploughed on.
    Although I very seriously conisdered moving to something new after training, I didn't want to be thought of as a 'quitter' and secured a job for my NQT year. I should have followed my initial instincts. Every day I came home angry, depressed and feeling hopeless. The kids were so out of control, the school did not have any real system to even recognise, let alone deal with, the behaviour. I had a lump of ice thrown at me once, missing my eye by centimetres. I had equipment trashed, classrooms graffited, tables and chairs overturned as everyday occurences. Every day before I could start planning after school I had to spend 20 to 30 minutes tidying up my classroom, such was the state it resembled by the end of the day. Some colleagues were friendly and supportive, but the management were oblivious to any problems and, if raised, would bounce them back as your responsibility. Once I was told, out of the blue, by a girl that I was a 'f****** pervert, who likes to rape kids'. When I refused to teach the child again until I had at the very least received an apology, I was told I wasn't being very professional about the matter. I spend interminable hours after school in 'training' by 'experts' who claimed that where we were going wrong was that we were 'using negative language', were not adept enough in 'conflict resolution' and did not 'model good behaviour'.
    I could not manage here and so did, ultimately, leave before achieving full NQT. I looked around for other employment for months but, out of desparation, was forced to do supply teaching to make ends meet. Although my bank balance improved, the depression came back. I was able to leave school at 3 o clock, but met with appalling behaviour in virtually every school I went to (around 15) over the next few months. I had my arm shut in a door on one ocassion, with about 15 kids pushing the door into me to prevent me from freeing it. One child, in all seriousness, when I told him to put his mobile phone away, offered to fight me outside. When I brought up an incident where kids in one lesson had thrown all the classroom books out of a third-floor window, I was told that the 'school would not be needing me from now on', even though it was originally agreed that I was there for a further three weeks. I went to write a letter about this treatment, but stopped as I realised that it would be a futile exercise and, actually, I was rather pleased to be free from this particular pit of hell.
    I am now unemployed but out of teaching for good. I will never, ever go back. I used to be really harsh on myself, thinking I was a 'failure' etc and although I had areas to improve, I realise now that schools are so bad that the best one can often achieve is to get through a lesson without a full-scale riot breaking out. I also realise that there is a mass, institutionalised denial of the problems in schools. It makes me weep every time I hear reports and news of how schools have improved, education is better than it has ever been etc. It is a monumental lie. All I will do is echo the sentiments of bermondseyboy: consider very carefully the decision to enter the teaching profession, consider that although you have the noblest of motives this will come to mean nothing, consider how many talented people enter and then leave the profession and consider the thoughts of the various contributors here, at least give it equal weight to the propaganda put out by schools and the government. Please. If I can contribute to just one other individual from making the same mistake that I made then at least that is something.
  3. I would love to stick these so called "experts" into a sink estate inner city school and see if there "expertise" stops them getting eaten alive.
    This thread pretty much sums up my feelings about the appalling state of education in this country. They need to get back to good old style discipline, teacher autonomy and tougher exams where an A grade actually means an A, and kids would shut up when you want to explain something to the class, and if they swear they get suspended or punished severely.I had the cane and corporal punishment at my school and it worked, no matter how politically incorrect or human rights abusing it was, we shut up when we were told and we obeyed.
    A lot of the kids I'm seeing come out of school don't have a chance in life, they come out expecting the world at their feet and they can't even read or write or sit still for longer than two minutes without going hyper or insulting someone else. It's appalling. Being around kids like that, then taking the blame for it for having "boring lessons" or whatever the SMT will throw at you and then I wonder, whats the point of it all? I was once told by my PGCE tutor that I should never ever blame the parents or society for naughty kids with problems, and it was all down to me and my teaching and behaviour management. What a bunch of politically correct BS. It's an impossible environment to teach where SMT and the government just want to fob it off and say results are improving and teaching is getting better than ever bland all the usual ****.
    I'm now three months out of teaching and enjoying life very much. I'm 99% certain I will never be a teacher again.
  4. As a funny aside...
    I'm from Bermondsey originally, and from a family of Millwall fans (for over 100 years)...and as such got dragged along to The Den at age 7. Ever since I've been hooked.
    Anyway..a few weeks ago Leeds United were in town; another club with a less than pleasant reputation for violence...and this is the gist of the conversation I heard in a local pub amongst some of our (Millwall) hooligans..aged between 35 to 50...talking about the actions of the young 12 to 18 year olds now going to games...
    "The trouble is, these youngsters aint got no respect for nothing...they don't care who they hurt or what they do.."...."yeah, they even spit at people..scum"...."I had to sort some out cos they were trying to throw bricks at a bus..just full of normal people...wrong uns.." "They need a proper lesson in respect"...
    Now, I know we're all on dodgy ground when we look to men old enough to know better than to fight over football...but it was interesting nethertheless...even *** that fight at football can see these youngsters are literally out of control...that they have no respect for anything. To these older hooligans it seemed crazy that these youngsters didn't just want to fight other like-minded individuals, as had always been the case..but wanted to just lash out at anyone...often in the most cowardly of ways..ie bricking public transport buses..spitting at isolated opposition fans in the protect of big gangs...and also that they needed to be taught respect!!
    Anyways..this lack of respect isn't just confined to inner-city kids...but middle-class kids too...just in different ways...yet; we as a society are just letting it spirral out of control. Something needs to change.
    I was in the RAF between 18 and 23. And most young people there were their because they WANTED discipline & were sick of the lack of it at home, in school and in the streets...if only the government & SLT felt the same..

  5. *there
    (sorry..in rush to cover!)
  6. 'whose reward for achieving good results is not a pay rise or bonus (like in the business world) but the application of more pressure to squeeze even more from the kids and tick even more pointless boxes'

    Could not agree more. Example: I was set a target of 80% A/B for an A-level class I teach (new syllabus, no scheme of work). I actually got 100% (45% A & 55% B) Did I get thanks or a bonus? No. I was instead given a new target: 100% again, but 55%A and 45% B next time! P*ss off!!!
  7. h01y

    h01y New commenter

    That reminds me, I heard from a former colleague that the first staff meeting of the year just after I had left the Headteacher had a go at all the staff because they hadn't reached their targets in the GCSE results because they were lower than the previous year. We all knew they wouldn't be as good but that didn't matter.
    What a positive way to start the year - so glad to be out of it!
  8. The stupid thing is...most teachers I know don't do it for the money (derr)...but would just appreciate a 'well done, you did a great job & we really value you as a teacher'...and thereafter, be afforded the respect they deserve, and so if results aren't quite as good with another cohort of less able kids, they still get acknowledge as good teachers doing their best in difficult/changed circumstances.
    But we all know the reality...

  9. h01y

    h01y New commenter

    and aren't teachers told that they should only give the kids positive messages...... It's no wonder really there are so many bullies in the profession it's almost as though the system is designed to keep their confidence and morale at rock bottom!
  10. Evening all,
    I agree with all of you. My recent post on English forum about workload/ APP is the tip of a very large (think Titanic) iceberg. I too am considering leaving teaching for all the reasons described so well by all of you...still unable to commit to life out there though...
    So my question to all of you brave souls who took the leap into non-teacherdom is: am I feeling this depressive way because it's that time of year and all myself and the kids need is a break?

  11. h01y

    h01y New commenter

    Hi Spatel,
    Obviously I don't know why you feel like this because we are all different. I lasted in full-time teaching for 3 years but I knew after about a year and a half that it wasn't for me. I got the idea for my business and decided to go for it because I knew I would regret it if I didn't. I also knew that if it didn't work out I had the teaching qualification to fall back on. Mind you the thought of having to go back to teaching keeps me motivated to succeed!
    I would say (as someone said to me) you need to figure out how you want your life to <u>be</u> rather than what you want to <u>do</u>. Then what you do will fit around that. Life is too short go out there and grab what you want - that's what I did and 4 years down the line I have learnt so much and what I thought I originally wanted has changed and that's great.
    I really like helping people now and have had lovely conversations on the phone this week with other Tessers and sharing ideas.
    Stay positive Spatel, and make small steps every day towards your goal.
    H xx
  12. Hi, I was a trainee teacher until this week, when I decided to leave. I have limited experience I know as I only did one full placement and the second placement was a disaster but what an eye opener!.I think the saddest thing of all is that the children I encountered in my second placement were edgy and had no respect for adults whatsever. It is a sad profession now teaching and I am glad I have made this choice. The government should stop lying to everyone and admit that discipline in school is failing and my mentors at universtity and in school said it was my fault I did not engage or interest the children, sorry I am there to teach them not indulge them.
    I read all your comments with interest and I wish everybody good luck in leaving teaching and what they pursue. I start again with enthuasism and excitement so may you.
  13. Hi H,
    You're so right I think I have to do some serious soul searching. What do I want from life is where I need to start. I know what I don't want- and maybe this is where I need to start??
    Thanks for all the replies- and good luck to the new jobseekers!
  14. Hello Bermondseyboy,
    Very sorry to hear you didn't have a great time teaching. It does require alot of work. Im a secondary teacher and have worked in places like you had, which i found quite hard emotional to cope with. I couldn't understand (i was very naive) how so many kids could have so many problems in a small school. I wouldn't take back that experience because I am now working in a very good school with what i would call limited behaviour problems and alot of teachers come to me for advice re behaviour etc.

    Anyway totally off the subject but I noticed you said you left teaching for plumbing, so did my partner- do you have any advice for my partner? Would your family company have any jobs available at the mo in the North east?(very very cheeky of me to ask and I don't mean to offend but unlike you, he does seem to be struggling to find a job and adjust.)

    I do wish you the very best for the future and hope it is much better than your previous working career.

  15. abernethy0257

    abernethy0257 New commenter

    What other jobs can teachers do though? I'm a fairly clueless 24 year old... I went for my Key Stage 2/3 degree straight after my A Levels and like a lot of you, I wanted to "make a difference".
    Since graduating in 2006, when I was only 21, I have had various jobs. Hence why I want to leave, haven't found the right job, don't think it exists in teaching [​IMG]
    At 24 years of age and on 24k, I'm struggling to find other jobs that will cover my mortgage. Or careers I might be good at. I have no fall backs at my age. The only real world job experience was xmas temp in a shop in town! [​IMG]

  16. h01y

    h01y New commenter

    Abernethy as spatel said you really need to do some soul searching, it is difficult when you are 24 but you have youth on your side! If only I knew 20 years ago what I know now!
    Trust your instincts to do what is right for you. Good luck xx
  17. My family just run a small building firm covering south-east London, Kent & Sussex, so sorry can't help there.
    My advice would be to go it alone. Is he qualified? If he is, he could concemtrate on doing domestic jobs, make sure EVERYONE you know knows he 's a plumber. There will always be jobs. And word spreads quick. Also, the obvious of advertising in local papers etc. A plumber can demand &pound;20-30 just for a call out down here; so even simple jobs like unblocking a sink can bring in good money. Once he becomes known, bigger & bigger jobs will come his way.
    If he isn't qualified; the best route is through a training centre, if you can't get a job with a firm. The best one I know of is Able Skills in Dartford. They are fully registered with City & Guilds & can sign off NVQs. It's not cheap though; a full training programme from novice to fully qualified plumber (including gas) is &pound;9,995 (including VAT). You can pay in installements and/or break training down into sections. Able Skills offer accomadation for those that live far away. Yet, there may be places nearer to you.
    Hope this is of some of hope!
  18. * Help..altho hope is apt too!
  19. Former teachers do very well in the real estate industry as they are typically patient, good listeners, hard workers and focus on assisting the people they serve.
    Visit Virtual Homes Real Estate as an example of a real estate web site that is directed towards the consumer as a resource. May give you some ideas on real estate as a career.
  20. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    Remember that different people have different motives for going into teaching. I completed a primary teaching degree in 1999, and have found things equally as tough as you. Don't forget that schools reflect what is happening in society. I've taught in primary, secondary and now a pupil referral unit. I've taught near a sink estates and in so-called middle class areas.
    You will never change the world or make that much difference in the crazy world of education. Stick with it if you can! However, I can fully understand and appreciate everything you have said!!


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